We are in the 100th and 75th anniversaries of World Wars I and II. In addition to the military exhibit pieces, we have included artifacts from the Home-Front. My apologies to historians for the glossing over segments to focus on the stories behind the artifacts pictured. For women it's an interesting story...
At the close of World War I in November of 1918, America, like her allies, had lost two generations of young men. What did this mean for the women? Spinsterhood! As the nation worked toward healing and celebrated the end of the war, women, young and older, continued to fight for the right to vote.
Finally, on August 18, 1920, the Women's Suffrage Act was passed and the right to vote was finally theirs! (Again...more on that another time.)
Many younger women began tossing away their corsets, cutting (or bobbing) their long hair, smoking, drinking and dancing the night away. Thus, the "Flapper" was born alongside The Roaring Twenties.
America entered a decade of excesses putting the horrors of war behind them. This excessive lifestyle came to a halt for most of the nation as American entered the Dirty Thirties set off by the large stock market crash on October 29, 1929; followed by bank failures, bad economic policies and foreign affairs and the severe drought conditions resulting from poor farming practices. Nearly 10 years long, the country had struggled its way out through economic and political collaborations . Hoover's public works programs and Roosevelt's New Deal got America aimed in the direction of recovery, but it was the outbreak of World War II that kicked the recovery into high gear by providing needed military supplies to Allied countries (Roosevelt's "Lend-Lease" policy) and arming itself as well.
When the United States entered WW II, women's lives again changed. Food was rationed, silk stockings rare and were said to show a lack of patriotism; rubber, metal and brass was needed for the war effort, so those on the home front held drives to do their part. Fashions changed, too. Cotton was needed for the war effort, so women made dresses and children's clothing from feed and flour sacking. Some women even changed their dress for a cover-all to work in the factories.
Civil Defense and U.S. Army Air Force Observer stations sprung up - even right here in Orange, Virginia.
We hope you'll visit soon to see the military and civilian artifacts in this special anniversary exhibit.