World War II and the 1950s


“Negro Marines, attached to the Third Ammunition Company, take time out from supplying ammunition to the front line on Saipan. Riding captured…bicycle is Pfc. Horace Boykin; and left to right, Cpl. Willis T. Anthony, Pfc. Emmitt Shackelford, and Pfc. Eugene Purdy.”
Photo: Public Domain

  • American Women in the WarBesides those in uniform, over 2,300,000 of our women have gone into war industries; 1,900,000 of them are doing regular factory work. Many of these workers feel they are not being allowed to produce as much as they could. I think their dissatisfaction would be remedied if we had labor-management committees in all war industries throughout the country, so that their ideas and grievances could obtain a hearing.Some of the married women workers are not doing their best because we haven't taken into consideration their personal problems. Their homes must still go on. Their children must be cared for. Day nurseries are now being established, but they are not always properly organized. Sometimes they are not located conveniently for the mothers—I was told of one nursery which was five blocks from a bus stop, which meant that a woman had to walk 20 blocks every day. To a tired woman carrying a child, those blocks seem very long.
  • Bondy, Robert E.Volunteers “are the phalanx for a changed public attitude.”1 These words best characterize the career and contribution to volunteerism made by Robert E. Bondy (1895-1990). Bondy spent the majority of his career with the American Red Cross, overseeing disaster relief efforts together with implementing programs and services to deal with returning U.S. veterans who served in the two world wars. Bondy ended his illustrious career as director of the National Social Welfare Assembly and, finally, as chairman of the Health and Welfare Advisory Council of the AFL-CIO.
  • Catholic Community Service Organizations in War TimeDuring America's involvement in the Second World War (1941-1945) there were over 1,500 clubs operated domestically by the six member agencies, including NCCS, as well as nearly 1,200 operated domestically by local communities and nearly 200 clubs operated overseas by USO Inc. The USO officially terminated operations on December 31, 1947 though it maintained its corporate structure and a small headquarters staff thereafter. With the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 the NCCS joined with the YMCA and the Jewish Welfare Board to form the Associated Services for the Armed Forces. The USO Inc. was reactivated in 1951with the original six member agencies and the camp shows. In 1962, the USO's National Ad Hoc Survey Committee stated the need for the USO's existence during the Cold War and made several recommendations, including that domestic operations be given autonomy and financial responsibility while USO Inc. would continue with overseas operations.
  • Child Study Association: History 1928The Child Study Association of America (CSAA) grew out of the Society for the Study of Child Nature, which was formed in 1888. In 1908, the society was renamed the Federation for Child Study and began to more actively disseminate child development information. During the 1920s, grants from the Laura Spellman Rockefeller Memorial Fund enabled the federation to expand its programs. The organization was formally incorporated and renamed Child Study Association of America in 1924. CSAA continued to provide parental education and consultation services on child development topics through the 1960s, when it began to shift its emphasis to professional training. By the 1970s, CSAA focused almost entirely on training programs for child welfare, child health, and education professionals. A series of mergers and continuing financial difficulties during the 1970s and 1980s, led to the gradual dissolution of the association.
  • Civilian Public ServiceAs the war progressed, a critical shortage of workers in psychiatric hospitals developed, because staff had left for better paying jobs with fewer hours and improved working conditions. For example, understaffed wards at Philadelphia State Hospital had one attendant member for 300 patients,the minimum ratio being 10:1. The government balked at initial requests that CPS workers have these positions, believing it better to keep the men segregated in the rural camps to prevent the spread of their philosophy.
  • Defense Housing: 1942Speech by C.F. Palmer, Coordinator of Defense Housing. "In the twelve months ending next June 30th, we expect that an enormous army of two to three million men, women, and children will have been involved in the essential migration required by war industry and military concentration. The arrival of these millions of people in defense areas is creating a complexity of problems, in which the largest is the supply of shelter."
  • Family Service During War TimeMany mothers have come to us in conflict as to whether or not to go to work. The motives may be patriotic, or desire for a more adequate income, or deeper personal urges for greater independence and release from home care. Since the absence of the mother from the home often creates serious problems of childcare, the decision is particularly crucial. We believe firmly that a mother’s care of her children is in itself an “essential industry”, but, if we are to be realistic, we know that it will not for every woman take priority over other “essential industries”. Our efforts have been to engage in a sort of “screening process”, to try to determine as promptly and soundly as possible the best solution for all concerned, to help the woman who should not work accept her homemaking role as a dignified and contributing one, and to help the mother who should work maintain all possible security for herself and her children.
  • Family Social Service During War TimePart of essential manpower is essential mother power. It is true that women are needed in war production, and they must go into it in great numbers, and we cannot let down for an instant. But it is also true that the production and raising of healthy children is a priority in war as in peace. It is hard to get the various programs into effective balance. We launch drives to get women, including mothers, to work in war plants, and then we launch drives to control delinquency -- and all the while we know that the one strongest factor in the prevention of delinquency is the stable home. There is no doubt of the values of supervised recreation of wholesome sorts, vocational guidance, and other activities for young people, but we who are closest to families know that without strong family life you have a chronic deficiency which is difficult to overcome. It is better for children to have good parents than any vitamins we know of today. Insofar as we cannot have this, there are effective substitutes, but we need to conserve our mother power very, very carefully.
  • Food, Farmers, and Fundamentals: 1941Thanks to the ever-normal granary and the efficiency of modern farm production, we can approach the problem of nutrition more constructively than during the last war. There seems little likelihood that we shall have meatless days, or days without sugar. The problem today is to use our soil, our farmers, our processors, our distributors, and our knowledge to produce the maximum of abounding health and spirits—a broad foundation on which we can build all the rest of our hemispheric defense.
  • Freedom: Promise of Fact: 1943In a comparatively short period of time the slaves have become free men—free men, that is, as far as a proclamation can make them so. There now remains much work to be done to see that freedom becomes a fact and not just a promise for my people. Eleanor Roosevelt, an article in the Negro Digest, 1943.
  • Goldberg, Arthur JosephPrior to his public service in the 1960s as U.S. secretary of labor, Supreme Court justice and ambassador to the United Nations, Arthur J. Goldberg spent 23 years as a chief legal strategist and adviser to the American labor movement. Goldberg provided brilliant legal advice to the Steel Workers Organizing Committee (SWOC) in its successful battle to unionize the steel industry in the late 1930s. He was a principal architect of the U.S. collective bargaining system as it evolved in the post-World War II decades. Goldberg also helped draft the merger agreement between the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1955 and played a key role in AFL-CIO policies aimed at ending corrupt union practices among affiliates.
  • Gosney Research FundIn 1928 Mr. Ezra Seymour Gosney founded and endowed a non-profit organization, known as the Human Betterment Foundation, for the purpose of fostering and aiding constructive and educational forces for the protection and betterment of the human family. In collaboration vith Dr. Paul Popence and other scientists Mr. Gosney carried on an extensive study in the field of eugenic sterilization, including particularly its medical, legal and social aspects. In 1929 and 1930 an exhaustive study was made of 6000 cases of sterilization of eugenically unfit. Eight years later a second similar critical study of 10,000 cases was made.
  • Kempshall, Anna "Star" - (1891 -1961)In 1917, four days before Christmas, and with only twenty hours notice, Miss Kempshall was dispatched by the C.O.S to assist the American Red Cross in relief work in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the site of an enormous explosion that caused death and damage to a large area surrounding the Halifax Harbor area. (Editor’s Note: On December 6, 1917, two ships collided in Halifax Harbor in Nova Scotia, Canada. One ship was loaded top to bottom with munitions and the other held relief supplies, both intended for war-torn Europe. The resulting blast flattened two towns, Halifax and Dartmouth. The toll of the Halifax Explosion was enormous with over 1,600 men, women and children killed. An additional 9,000 people were injured and 25,000 buildings spread over 325 acres were destroyed.)
  • Lindeman, Eduard C.: A LetterIn order to make matters more explicit, I shall now state my chief reasons for being an anti-Communist: (1) on philosophical grounds I belong to the American tradition of pragmatism of which William James and John Dewey were the chief exponents. This philosophy is experimental and non-authoritarian and is definitely opposed to the dogmatic German philosophy of Hegel, and out which Marxism arose. (2) on moral grounds I am opposed to Communism because it teachers the immoral doctrine that good ends may be achieved through the use of evil means; it practices conspiracy and falsehood and thus, through the employment of such means, produces gross immorality; (3) I am a believer in cultural pluralism while Communism advocates the cultural uniformity. I believe in diversity because I believe in freedom. (See THE DEMOCRATIC WAY OF LIFE BY T.V. SMITH and EDUARD C. LINDEMAN, published last year by The New American Library.) (4) I believe in what may be called the Judeo-Christian ethics which is founded upon the conception of human brotherhood and love. Communism, on the contrary, preaches hate and conflict. There are many other reasons for opposing this malevolent movement which has perverted so many millions but the above are fundamental.
  • Need for an Expanded Maternal and Child-Health Program: 1944The result is that thousands of mothers and hundreds of thousands of children go without care that we know how to give but are not able to provide because of inadequacy of facilities, of well-trained physicians, nurses, and other professional workers, and of administrative personnel. If we are to wipe out this blot on our national life within the next decade we must take steps now, not next year or the year after. Nothing short of a large scale Nation-wide effort supported by adequate Federal and State funds will make it possible to assure access to proper care for all mothers in childbirth, for all newborn infants, and for preschool children, and for children during the school years and throughout adolescence
  • Next Steps In Interracial Relations: 1944Every American who is worthy of the title "citizen" has carried a deep sense of shame and a feeling of almost personal responsibility for what happened in 1943 in New York City, Los Angeles, Beaumont, Mobile, and Detroit. Those bloody and costly riots were warnings of how far this nation still has to go in order to develop the single-minded purpose and the well-disciplined unity that are needed to win this war. It is possible mathematically to calculate the loss of man-hours of labor, of war materials, and of property caused by those riots. It will never be possible, however, to calculate the more severe loss of confidence by American citizens in their government and the loss of trust and cooperation between white and Negro Americans who should be working and planning together, wholeheartedly, for victory.
  • Nurses and Wartime St. Vincent’s HospitalSt. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village was not just a place of employment for nurses, but it was also a place for education. In 1892, forty-three years after the hospital’s opening, the St. Vincent’s School of Nursing opened its doors to women. The school was first directed by Katherine A. Sanborn. Many graduates from this school continued their work at St. Vincent’s hospital. Other graduates went to work elsewhere in New York City, including the New York Foundling Hospital, another institution directed by the Sisters of Charity. Eventually, in the 1930s, St. Vincent’s School of Nursing began to accept men. This produced even more graduates and more St. Vincent’s educated nurses working in the field.
  • Powell, Adam ClaytonDuring the Great Depression, Powell developed a reputation as a fearless Harlem community activist. He successfully organized and led peaceful boycotts to force white businesses in Harlem to hire blacks for management and professional positions. He was also an outspoken advocate for fair and affordable housing.
  • President's Committee on Fair Employment Practice (FEPC)By the end of WWII, African Americans accounted for almost eight percent of defense-industry jobs, and the number of Black Americans working for the federal government more than tripled. While the FEPC was charged with investigating discrimination, job bias continued. Often, when African Americans were hired, they were segregated within the defense industry, paid less than their white counterparts, and restricted in their ability to join and participate in unions.
  • Pritchard, Marion: Social Worker and Savior of Jews in WW IIThe Dutch government surrendered to the Nazis 5 days after the Germans invaded in May, 1940. Millions of Jews, Gypsies, and others were slaughtered, while some Dutch people risked their lives to help the victims....Marion Pritchard was one of the rescuers. She concealed a Jewish family for nearly 3 years and killed a Dutch Nazi policeman to save the children.
  • Race, Religion and Prejudice (1942)Over and over again, I have stressed the rights of every citizen:Equality before the law. Equality of education. Equality to hold a job according to his ability. Equality of participation through the ballot in the government.
  • Reuther, Walter (1907 - 1970)Walter Reuther was president of the United Automobile Workers (UAW) from 1946 until his death in 1970. Under his leadership, the UAW grew to more than 1.5 million members, becoming one of the largest unions in the United States. Reuther was widely admired as the model of a reform-minded, liberal, responsible trade unionist—the leading labor intellectual of his age, a champion of industrial democracy and civil rights who used the collective bargaining process and labor's political influence to advance the cause of social justice for all Americans.
  • Roosevelt, EleanorDespite her initial intent to focus on her social activities as First Lady, political issues soon became a central part of the weekly briefings. When some women reporters assigned to ER tried to caution her to speak off the record, she responded that she knew some of her statements would "cause unfavorable comment in some quarters . . . but I am making these statements on purpose to arouse controversy and thereby get the topics talked about."
  • Social Group Work Theory and PracticeProfessor Gertrude Wilson contributed significantly to the establishment of social group work within social work in the United States. Through national research and numerous publications, Professor Wilson was able to demonstrate and describe the relationship between group work and case work. She demonstrated that they draw upon many of the same basic concepts from the behavioral sciences as well as from socio-psychological sources; and that there were key common skills. She argued that group work was a process through which group life was influenced by a worker who directed the process toward the accomplishment of a social goal conceived in a democratic philosophy
  • Social Insurance & Social Security Chronology: Part IV -- 1940sThe following pages present a detailed historical chronology of the development of social insurance, with particular emphasis on Social Security. Items are included in this compilation on the basis of their significance for Social Security generally, their importance as precedents, their value in reflecting trends or issues, or their significance in SSA's administrative history. The information includes legislative events in Social Security and related programs. Our expectation is that this Chronology can be used as a reference tool and finding aid for important dates and events in Social Security's long history.
  • Suffrage in the South Part II: The One Party SystemIn a sequel to his study of the poll tax, this young southern writer further analyzes democracy in Dixie. His findings and his conclusions, carefully checked by southern researchers, are especially significant in this year of national elections.
  • Suffrage in the South: The Poll TaxIn the South, two thirds of the voting population are barred from the polls by a head tax which is a prerequisite to voting. What this "one third democracy for one sixth of the nation" means to the Democratic party, to the nation, and to the issues of the 1940 elections are revealed in the staggering facts and figures here presented in the first of two articles by a young southern writer.
  • The G.I. Bill of RightsBefore World War II, college and home ownership were, for the most part, unreachable dreams for the average American. Thanks to the G.I.Bill, millions who would have flooded the job market instead opted for education. In the peak year of 1947, veterans accounted for 49 percent of college admissions. By the time the original G.I. Bill ended on July 25, 1956, 7.8 million of 16 million World War II veterans had participated in an education or training program. Millions also took advantage of the G.I. Bill's home loan guaranty. From 1944 to 1952, VA backed nearly 2.4 million home loans for World War II veterans.
  • The Lesson of Selective Service: 1941Out of a million men examined by Selective Service and about 560,000 excepted by the army, a total of 380,000 have been found unfit for general military service. It has been estimated that perhaps one third of the rejections were due either directly or indirectly to nutritional deficiencies. In terms of men, the army today has been deprived of 150,000 who should be able to do duty as soldiers. This is 15 percent of the total number physically examined by the Selective Service System
  • The Place Of Mental Health Clinics In Settlements And Neighborhood HousesThe settlement psychiatric clinic is significantly different from that in any other setting. It not only offers a more broadly based service in prevention and treatment, but it is the one place where the clinic has the opportunity to work with the total individual in his total situation – a basic treatment principle.Also, the services are less costly. There is practical economy in energy, time and money in being able to effect such a highly coordinated on-the-spot service within the physical setup of an established agency, already known, accepted and appreciated for the constructive services it gives.
  • Training Schools - And Civilian Public Service (1944)The Civilian Public Service (CPS) was set up to provide conscientious objectors in the United States an alternative service to military service during World War II. CPS was operated primarily by the historic peace churches. CPS draftees from the historic peace churches and other faiths worked in areas such as soil conservation, forestry, fire fighting, agriculture, social services and mental health.
  • Truman, Harry S. (1884- 1972)In his domestic policies, Truman sought to accomplish the difficult transition from a war to a peace economy without plunging the nation into recession, and he hoped to extend New Deal social programs to include more government protection and services and to reach more people....The Truman administration went considerably beyond the New Deal in the area of civil rights. Although, the conservative Congress thwarted Truman's desire to achieve significant civil rights legislation, he was able to use his powers as President to achieve some important changes. He issued executive orders desegregating the armed forces and forbidding racial discrimination in Federal employment. He also established a Committee on Civil Rights and encouraged the Justice Department to argue before the Supreme Court on behalf of plaintiffs fighting against segregation.
  • USO and the YWCAAs the United States prepared to enter World War II, the general public and many leading social service agencies voiced the need for expanded social services in coordination with the U.S. military. In 1940, General George Marshall also called for social services for the military. The USO was founded in 1941 in response to a request from President Roosevelt to provide morale and recreation services to U.S. uniformed military personnel. Roosevelt was elected as its honorary chairman. Discussions among the military, the National Jewish Welfare Board, the Salvation Army, the National Board of the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), the National Council of the Young Men's Christian Associations of the United States (YMCA), and the National Catholic Community Service resulted in the establishment of the United Service Organizations for National Defense Inc. (USO) in New York City on February 4, 1941. In the following month, the National Traveler's Aid Association joined the organization and, thus, these groups became the six primary member agencies of the USO.
  • What Price Slum Clearance? (1953)After an intensive attempt to comb city agencies for relevant information, we have come to the conclusion that the city is not facing the situation realistically. No one department has been charged with responsibility to assess the nature of the problem or the risks involved. City agencies in reviewing projects have paid little attention to the relocation problem and have approved projects on an uncoordinated piece-meal basis. Facts which are readily available were not collected by any one city department. Other data, available from the Bureau of Census for a minimum price, had never been requested. Ironically, so far as we know, no city adding machine had ever totaled the displacement figure referred to above.
  • Woman's Place After the War (1944)"Will women want to keep their jobs after the war is over?" When I asked Miss Mary Anderson of the Bureau of Women in Industry, she told me it all boils down to economic necessity. Married women usually keep their jobs only when they have real need for money at home. This, of course, does not mean that women who take up some kind of work as a career will not stay in that work if they like it, whether they are married or single.
  • Y.W.C.A.: Brief History of Service in Times of WarIn one particular the Y.W.C.A. war service of 1917 differs from that of 1942. Then the Y.W.C.A. operated hostess houses on camp grounds as well as in large manufacturing areas. Today it operates U.S.O. centers close by camps, near navy yards, and in the big industrial defense areas. Now as then, while doing its share for the men in uniform, it never forgets that its main purpose is to supply the needs of women and girls—wives and families of service men, workers in cantonment areas and in war industries, nurses and employees at military posts, and others directly affected by the emergency needs of the nation. The program included recreation; education in health, nutrition, first aid, and other essential subjects, counsel on personal problems, and spiritual guidance.