Women manufacturing boots

Credit: Library of Congress

Girl sewing at a shirt manufacturer, Waterloo, Iowa, August 1941

Credit: Library of Congress


From the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, women had worked in American factories, but only doing tasks for which women were considered well suited. With the onset of war, manufacturing resources were devoted to producing goods to satisfy military demands.

Work in textile mills, clothing industries, and food preparation were among the oldest female dominated factory jobs. With the war, factories that produced silk stockings manufactured parachutes instead, and women’s fashionable dresses and lingerie were replaced by uniforms and underwear for the military.



“Be Patriotic—Wear Cotton Hose,” General
Federation Clubwoman
, October 1941 

Credit:  General Federation of Women’s Clubs

“WHY worry about silk hose? Be patriotic and wear a home product. We still have cotton – lots of it – grown right here within the borders of our own country.”

“Look for the plain knits if you are hunting something practical. They are very suitable for wear when helping with the defense activities in your town. As one woman commentator put it, “We would look mighty silly fire-fighting in 3-thread hose!”


Elderly woman hand stitches sleeves on an army
overcoat at a quartermaster depot, May 1942.

Credit: National Archives

Sorting and packing tomatoes, Yauco Cooperative Tomato
Growers Association, Puerto Rico, January 1942

Credit: Library of Congress