Women Called to Morale Duty

Most women experienced huge demands on their personal time. The government blanketed the nation with public service announcements encouraging women to do all they could to support the fighting men overseas by volunteering for as many programs as possible. The list of suggested activities seemed to grow longer by the day: blood drives, war bond campaigns, rolling bandages for the Red Cross, hostessing at USO clubs, participating in military mothers' clubs, and especially writing letters to friends and loved ones on the front.

Letter writing was important at this time because it helped maintain morale on the front. Women were encouraged to scribble a note at every opportunity, with posters shaming those who didn't. (“V-mail is speed mail: You write. He'll fight. Be with him at every mail call. Can you pass a mailbox with a clear conscience?”) For most servicemen, mail call was the most important time of the day.

In her 1942 book So Your Husband's Gone to War! author Ethel Gorham devoted an entire chapter to the whys and hows of letter writing during wartime. Among her advice:

  • Write consistently.

  • Keep letters chatty and varied.

  • Be “warm and intimate, as you yourself have been with the man to whom you are writing.”

  • Discuss what's going on at home.

  • Avoid discussing the high cost of living and other sacrifices being made on the home front.

In an effort to help women cope with the dramatic changes the war caused at home, the government published numerous educational pamphlets and booklets. One such pamphlet, titled If Your Baby Must Travel in Wartime, offered mothers helpful advice on how to travel across the country by train, bus, or car. These pamphlets helped ease much of the fear and uncertainty war wives experienced while their husbands were away.

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