MMS 364 - Josephine Suter Kronfield WAVES Scrapbook
|MMS 364 - Josephine Suter Kronfield WAVES Scrapbook
Although women had served ably during World War I, mostly as clerical staff, legislation passed after the war had prohibited women from joining the military. With the coming of the Second World War, it was clear that women's skills were needed again. In July 1942, President Roosevelt signed the law allowing an expanding role for women in the Navy. Still, public response was uncertain. Even their name, WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), suggested that their status was temporary. However, recruiting began in earnest and a year later some 27,000 women were serving in the Navy. By war's end, more than 8,000 female officers and over 75,000 enlisted WAVES had served their country well; this workforce made up only about 2 1/2 percent of the Navy's total strength during that conflict.
Josephine Suter of Toledo was among the early volunteers, enlisting October 20, 1942. She went on active duty January 22, 1943 and was honorably discharged September 29, 1945. During her service, she kept a scrapbook of her experiences which give us a glimpse of the women's role in the defense of the nation.
The WAVES served in a far wider range of occupations than they had in the past. While traditional clerical jobs made up the largest proportion of women's duties, thousands performed previously atypical duties in the aviation community, Judge Advocate General Corps, medical professions, communications, intelligence, science and technology.