Women During World War II (Grades 5-12)


It is common knowledge that many women contributed to our nation's victory in World War II. But, too often, it is unrecorded knowledge.

The stories of the struggles, sacrifices, and accomplishments of the women in your students' hometown can be located, recorded, and preserved. Students can become activists and young historians in a hometown campaign designed to recognize the history made 50 years ago by the women in their community.

Women made history during World War II when they left kitchens and cashiering jobs and entered shipyards and defense plants as welders, crane operators, electricians, riveters, etc. How is that history preserved in your hometown?

  • Assign a team of students the task of researching (in libraries and historical societies, etc.) the World War II history made by the women of their hometowns.

  • Assign students to interview senior women about their experiences during World War II. Students can interview family, school personnel, volunteers from nearby senior housing complexes, trusted neighbors, etc. Younger students can audio- or video-tape their interview sessions. Those students who are new to the school might like to interview school personnel to gain a stronger sense of belonging. In addition, you can invite women into your classroom to speak of their experiences during World War II.

  • Compile a scrapbook of interview excerpts and donate copies to local libraries and historical societies.

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    Sample Interview Questions
    Below are some suggested questions that students can use in their interviews. They should choose only those questions that are suitable for the particular woman being interviewed, and feel free to add, or select entirely different questions. Remind them to trust themselves during the interview and ask follow up questions as they think of them. Other tips:

    Listen. . . Keep eye contact...Nod occasionally.. smile...Count to seven after the person stops talking

    1. Where were you on December 7, 1941?

    2. When war was declared by President Roosevelt, what were the first things to change? How did the war change your family? How did life for you as a female change? What did you do during World War II?

    3. Can you tell me about blackouts? ration stamps? war bonds? air raids?

    4. How did the war change school? sports?

    5. How did the war change what people ate?

    6. What can you tell me about the movies during the war? radio?

    7. What song do you remember the most from WWII? why?

    8. What news during the war shocked you the most? why?

    9. Did you write letters to anyone? Tell me about writing letters.

    10. In what ways did your town look different during the war?

    11. Is there any evidence of WWII still remaining around here?

    12. How did WWII change you, personally?

    13. Tell me about D-Day. Iwo Jima. Kamikazees. The Atomic bomb.

    14. Tell me about the day the war ended.

    Activity developed by Ron Adams, Broad Meadows Middle School, Quincy, MA.

    Adapted from Junior Scholastic, March 23, 1990.

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