A Very Important History
by Taonga M., Siah T., Seryozha D., Eric V. / Jun 5, 2012
Students in Betsy Milleson's 7th grade social studies class at Cascade Middle School in Highline wrote essays about the impact of WWII in Washington State. The students chose from one of four major topics: the economy, women's roles, the development of the Hanford Nuclear Site, and Japanese internment. Here are a few examples:
Roll of Women in World War II:
How the Lives of Women Changed During WWII
By: Taonga M.
Did you know that in April 1943, the first twenty-five members of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC’s) to serve in the Pacific Northwest arrived at Fort Lawton? The WAAC’s were considered “auxiliaries” and not part of the regular army. “Ultimately, 150,000 women served as WAAC’s…during World War II” (Wilma). Women’s lives changed in World War II because they had more privileges during the war than they did before the war. For example, the women were doing some of the men’s jobs, like being pilots or making airplane parts.
Women’s lives changed after they took over men’s jobs while men were at war. Women joined the WAVES and also the WAAC’s. These groups were important because women felt more comfortable doing new things together in a group than they would have individually. Some of the jobs women took over included instructing male pilots and towing targets for anti-aircraft artillery practice. The women were housewives before the war, so those unfamiliar jobs were probably scary for them, but they were brave because although they were new at the jobs, they still went ahead and did them.
Women were probably also scared to operate powerful machine guns because they could get hurt or something might happen. But some women had to work in the army. The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was created to train women to do non-combatant duties. Some of these duties were cooking or helping out by being nurses. “In July 1943, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was formed as part of the U.S. Army, and rank and pay disparities were resolved” (Wilma). The women took over men’s jobs, but they were also trained to do jobs that men didn’t do.
With all the jobs that women did during the war (that were normally considered “manly jobs”), they proved to people that both men and women could do the same kind of jobs, especially because most of the women were good at them. “During the 1950’s, women returned home to care for their families. But their time in the work force showed that they were capable of making a living as well as any man” (Henry). Even though the women showed that they were capable, society still did not accept that, and they were still paid less than men in the same jobs. “Thanks to the million of brave women during World War II, women now work in the engineering, manufacturing, medical government and defense industries. They now work in jobs once held only by men” (Henry).
Though women may have those rights now, the fight to get there was not easy.
Economic Changes in Washington Since WWII
By: Siah T.
Many people in Washington walk around the streets, all asking for jobs, food, money, a place to stay, and yet they are denied. These people end up like this because they can’t find jobs thanks to the economy. Today’s economy has gotten far worse than what it was in WWII. Today, there are hundreds of people who are jobless and are struggling. During WWII, countless jobs were provided for many people and very few people were jobless. In the early days of WWII, before the U.S. actually entered the war, America provided the Allied Forces with aircraft carriers, planes, ammunition, lighters, gas tanks, armored vehicles, etc. None of these things that helped win the war just appeared—they had to be built by companies. Those companies needed workers to do the building, so this offered many different jobs for people of any race or gender.
Washington’s economy was very healthy during WWII. Many companies opened, jobs were given and sometimes even traded. One of the biggest companies during the war was Boeing. This particular company built and sold war planes to places like England and France. Hundreds of people were hired to work for Boeing and built these massive bomber planes. Washington provided the allies with aircraft carriers, airplane tenders and torpedo mother ships. Another big company that was around to provide boats was Kaiser Productions. Henry Kaiser’s company built the most boats for the war. Thousands of people worked for Kaiser Productions, which made the work go fast, especially with all the help the company had to build the ships.
All men and women of any race were needed to work. Jobs of many people were sometimes even traded so that people would work at their full potential. Not many minority people were jobless anymore. Many minority people found that job hunting became much easier. The government needed as many hands as possible to help work for the cause. Women weren’t forced, but they were encouraged to work. This also made a big impact on the working process. Women were treated equal and paid the same as men. Sometimes, if men or women were given a job that they were not fit to do, they could trade for a job that they felt they could be good at, which also made a large impact.
As the war grew bigger, more and more jobs became available for many people who were jobless and needed money. Kaiser Productions had many positions to be filled and many things to get done. Each worker built a different part of the ship. Boeing also had countless positions to fill, as some people built the planes and some made the blueprints. Many companies offered so many jobs that the few who were jobless soon found jobs and were able to provide for his or herself.
Although we were at war, Washington’s economy during WWII could not have been better. Only a few hundred people were homeless then. Today, our economy cannot compare to what it used to be during the war because men and women were easily able to provide for themselves and their families.
Hanford Atomic Energy Plant
By: Seryozha D.
During World War Two, a secret development was taking place in the deserts of eastern Washington. Through years of competition, both American and German scientists had made a new source of power by splitting an atom. Albert Einstein pointed out some possibilities of atomic energy to President Roosevelt. Atomic power had many uses, but the reason the U.S. government built atomic weaponry was to create a bomb that was so destructive it could beat the Axis powers. Hanford, Washington was picked as one of three sites for the Manhattan Project to build the plutonium bomb. Hanford was chosen because it had undeveloped land, water for necessary production, access to transportation, and it was remote.
It was important for the plant to have water and lots of undeveloped land. The land was desert but the climate was very mild. Plutonium production required abundant power and water to cool and heat the reactors. The Columbia River flowed through Hanford, and the Grand Coulee Dam was making hydroelectric power near by. A large area was also needed to make plutonium because no one knew how much damage the radiation might do. However, about 1,500 people farmed and ranched around the tiny towns of White Bluffs and Hanford near the site. In January 1943, The U.S. army engineers selected the site for their project, and they acquired 560 miles of land. People were told only that the land was needed and that they had to leave or move somewhere away from this area. The people had fifteen to thirty days to pack up and leave.
Hanford was also chosen as the site because it was remote. This was important because they needed space for the plant and for military secrecy. About 50,000 workers arrived from all across the nation, and all promised to stay silent about what they saw and what the plant was producing. Military intelligence opened mail and listened in on phone conversations. About 140,000 workers passed through in two years. The workers’ town was built, and large new buildings were made. The overall plans were never revealed to anyone.
The atomic bomb was tested in New Mexico on July 16, 1945. By the summer, Germany had surrendered and the Americans were trying to defeat Japan. On August 1, the first atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, releasing power equal to 20,000 tons of TNT. Four square miles of the city were destroyed. The blast killed or injured 160,000 people, and thousands more suffered by radiation and illness. Three days later, the second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. On August 14, the Japanese government stopped fighting, and the war was over. In the autumn of 1945, Hanford and the rest of the world joined together to look ahead to what all hoped would be a new time of peace. The world was tired of war and depression.
Washington’s Economy in WWII
By: Eric V.
Our world today is peaceful. There are no wars going on in Washington Sate. Most people have food and shelter. However, in the 20th century, there was war. A lot of people were jobless and dying. I am writing about the important influences on the economy of Washington in the 20th century, why they were important, and how they helped win the war: William Boeing, Henry J Kaiser and the African-Americans. William helped by making planes, Henry J. Kaiser helped by making ships, while African-Americans worked in jobs for the war industry. They all helped Washington’s economy. My goal is to inform people about those important to the economy in Washington State in the 20th century.
One person that was important was William Boeing. William Boeing was born in Detroit, Michigan and died on September 28, 1956. He attended Yale University in 1900. As he grew up, he received flying lessons and learned all about planes. When he got older, he married a woman named Bertha Marie Paschall. He started a company named “The Boeing Company” and created planes. He built 50 planes for the government. William helped win the war by giving planes to the US soldiers. Today, the Boeing Company is still creating planes.
Another important person was Henry J. Kaiser. Born on May 9, 1882, he started making ships. Using steel from his own plants, he was named the world’s greatest ship builder. He was also an aggressive businessman. Henry helped the U.S. produce more ships then any other country. He created 13,000 B-17s, the B-29 and the B-32. He had 150,000 workers. Besides ships, he was involved in large construction projects such as dams. He helped the US soldiers by giving them ships. Kaiser organized Kaiser Permanente health care for his workers and their families. He led Kaiser-Frazer followed by Kaiser Motors—automobile companies known for the safety of their designs.
A final group of important people in the economy of WWII in Washington was the African-Americans. Minorities worked together in a white city where many were jobless or homeless. The African-American population increased in Seattle from 3,700 to 30,000. All of them came to Washington for jobs. Even African-American women got to work at men’s jobs, but some quit if the pay or the location was bad. After the war, 294 medals were given out, yet none were given out to any African-Americans.
William Boeing, Henry J. Kaiser, and the African-Americans were all important people who influence the economy of Seattle. My final hope is that this paper will inform people about the economy of Washington in the 20th century.