Double vision : the dual roles of women on the homefront during World War II through the lens of government documentary films

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Mills, Pamela J.
Mjagkij, Nina, 1961-
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of History
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World War II was a time of great changes. Many aspects of American society underwent profound shifts but one predominant part of American culture did not change -- theaccepted roles of women. The government documentary films of World War II reveal attitudes, ideas, and assumptions which not only reinforced traditional roles but also reflected theresistance to gender-role alterations. Women during the war were not only shaped by such cultural messages but many subscribed to them wholeheartedly. The films emphasize twospecific images of women -- Susie Homemaker and Rosie the Riveter -- and also reflect society's image of women as homemakers first and war workers second. This double vision,reflected throughout the documentary films became the catalyst which maintained women in traditional roles and, in turn, rejected attempts to alter those roles in any significant way.This study uses the vehicle of World War II documentaryfilms, utilizing the World War II Historical Film Collection, Bracken Library, Ball State University (the largest collection outside the National Archives), the Office of War Information papers, and extensive secondary research, to investigate the images of women during the war years.