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Historical Society Guest Speaker To Discuss 'Women's Work In WWII'



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UPDATE: Due to the weather of Monday, February, 9, the historical society has decided to postpone this program. A new date will be announced.

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We’ve all heard the phrase The Greatest Generation, used to describe for the men and women who fought in World War II, but what of the girls they left behind?  The war caused profound changes at home, and Newtown Historical Society will look at some of them in a presentation by John Cilio.

Mr Cilio will be at C.H. Booth Library on Monday, February 9, to present “Women’s Work in WWII.” The program will begin at 7:30 pm, and is free of charge. It will be in the lower meeting room of the library, 25 Main Street.

Not only did women enlist in every branch of service open to them, serving around the world, they took the place of men at home. They organized bond and scrap drives, wrapped packages for GI Christmases, knitted and sewed. But they also worked at jobs traditionally held by men. With very little formal training or time for apprenticeships, women became machinists, carpenters, meteorologists, radio broadcasters, farm workers, nurses, munitions specialists – and of course, riveters.

They started with the mission to help their country and their friends and relatives in the war, and ended up proving their competence in thousands of roles previously held by men only.

Proving their competence gave women a status they had not had in this country prior to the war years. They were aware of their new capabilities, they were making their own decisions, and they were earning their own money, truly a New Woman.

As Hudie Ledbetter famously sang, though from a rather different point of view, in his National Defense Blues, “every payday would come, her check was big as mine.” Although the postwar years saw a return to a pre-war social milieu, the seeds were sown and women would not remain long in their old roles, even if paychecks have lagged.

John Cilio will use a large collection of vintage quotes, stories and photographs to document the chain of circumstances that propelled the nation to realize that women can be an overtly sustaining force within society. He will present an intriguing and surprising story of how women working in WWII changed the framework of how women would work in the future, and the workplace and marketplace would never be the same.

Mr Cilio made his career in marketing, but his deep interest in history has led to five books on aviation history and many articles and talks about women in WWII. His belief is that often the consequences of a historical incident or era were hidden from the participants, yet looking back one can begin to sense the full impact of their moments in time.

His talk will bring to question what contemporary women’s options would be if our nation had not experienced the conditions that unlocked so many new experiences and opportunities through wartime service.

Refreshments will be served following the presentation

Reservations are not needed, but additional information is available by leaving a message at 203-426-5937 or visiting www.newtownhistory.org.

John Cilio’s deep interest in history has led to five books on aviation history and many articles and talks about women in WWII. 
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