Recruiting Posters for Women from World War II


WAVES Walking In Front of the NYC Skyline
John Falter
Oil on canvas
45-127-M

The Navy used this painting to print 40,000 posters and 45,000 window cards in July 1944.

Just as with men, the Navy regulated all aspects of a WAVES physical appearance. By 1944, each enlistee owned four uniforms: summer dress whites, as shown in this painting and poster; summer greys; working blues; and dress blues. Noted fashion designer Mainbocher donated his designs to the Navy for WAVES uniforms. WAVES wore their hair short, since Naval regulations required that hair not fall below their collars. Yet, the Navy encouraged WAVES to wear feminine haircuts, gloves and skirts.

Don't Miss Your Great Opportunity
John Falter
Poster, 1944
70-623-I

In her memoir, "Mother was a Gunner's Mate: World War II in the Waves," Josette Dermody Wingo remarked, "New York, here I am at last, worldly and sophisticated as I've always known my true self to be-just like the recruiting poster with two leggy WAVES...in summer dress whites who stride in step in front of the Manhattan skyline. Underneath it asks, 'Are you going to miss the great adventure?' Not me."

Poster with pictrure of WAVEs walking in front of the NYC Skyline

Opportunity For Leadership
John Falter
Charcoal on paper
45-127-Y

drawing of waves marching in fromation

Enlist in the Coast Guard SPARS
Charles Andres
Oil on canvas
45-128-A

Spar with american flag

Enlist In the Coast Guard SPARS
Charles Andres
Poster
65-014-AA

Poster with coast guard spar with american flag

Women Join the Marines
McClelland Barclay
Oil on masonite
48-031-R

Portrait of a woman marine

Women Join the Marines
McClelland Barclay
Drawing
48-031-RB

Portrait of a woman marine

WAVE At War, Ships At Night
John Falter
Oil on canvas
45-127-N

WAVES were not eligible for combat duty. Their assignments remained stateside or in the territories of Hawaii and Alaska. But recruiting posters often depicted the contributions of WAVES to combat victories.

Here, Falter superimposes a female enlistee over a battle scene, as though she stands for all the WAVES-parachute riggers, machinists' mates, gunners' mates, and others who will make this victory possible. This type of image not only brought in new recruits, but it boosted morale among the WAVES, reminding them that their work was directly impacting the war effort and strengthening the might of Navy forces.


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