Rosie and Mrs. America: Perceptions of Women in the 1930s And 1940s

Overview

Who was Rosie and who was Mrs. America? They weren't specific individuals; rather, they were symbols that defined perceptions of women during the 1930s and 1940s. The jubilance of the previous decade—the Roaring Twenties—was silenced by the stock market crash of 1929. Now the Great Depression challenged women in their homes, as Mrs. America had to learn how to "make do" with less. And as men left for battle fronts, World War II propelled women to take their place in factories, becoming Rosie the Riveter. As girls...
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Overview

Who was Rosie and who was Mrs. America? They weren't specific individuals; rather, they were symbols that defined perceptions of women during the 1930s and 1940s. The jubilance of the previous decade—the Roaring Twenties—was silenced by the stock market crash of 1929. Now the Great Depression challenged women in their homes, as Mrs. America had to learn how to "make do" with less. And as men left for battle fronts, World War II propelled women to take their place in factories, becoming Rosie the Riveter. As girls and women of the 1930s and 1940s searched for their own identities, the media of the times tried to influence their paths. Magazine advertisements and mail-order catalogs showed women how to be both fashionable and frugal. Screwball comedies on the movie screen and the romantic soap operas on the radio portrayed women who took life lightly. But many women ignored these stereotypes and forged paths that women had never pursued before, in careers as pilots, foreign correspondents, musicians, and social activists. Learn more about the images and issues that framed perceptions about women in these difficult decades."
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up Numerous encylopedias cover the experiences of women in the United States, among them Doris L. Weatherford's A History of Women in the United States (Grolier, 2003) and Nancy Cott's highly academic No Small Courage (Oxford Univ., 2004). Few such reference titles are as user-friendly and as well suited to middle and high school use. Using popular culture as a lens, each book addresses stereotypes of femininity. Gourley clearly shows that women have been consistently faced with role expectations that stem from diametrically opposed views of what they should be. Organized chronologically, the sparkling and engaging texts are generously expanded by numerous, well-placed black-and-white photographs and period reproductions from magazine advertisements, handbills, government propaganda, radio, and television. The titles give ample indication of the divide-the lovely, corseted Gibson Girl contrasts with the militant suffragist in the same way that Rosie the Riveter puts the smiling postwar housewife, concerned only with husband and family, in relief. Stories of women who either exemplified conventional behaviors or changed them are presented in sidebars or incorporated seamlessly into the narratives. With their wonderful use of primary-source information and documentation, these books are great for research or browsing, and they are sure to pique readers' interest in the history of gender in this country.-Ann Welton, Helen B. Stafford Elementary, Tacoma, WA

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