Women at Work
"When I graduated from high school in June 1942, I went to work in the biggest defense plant in Rhode Island at the time, Brown and Sharpe. They made machines that created parts for ammunition. I was in the clerical end of it, but it was all in production eventually. Many women were employed at Brown and Sharpe. In those days it was pretty much run by women. We didn't have any automation so there were a lot of women in every job. They worked in the factory on machines because the men were being drafted. So they were replaced by women, and our ranks swelled to a great number. As a matter of fact, at one point during the war, Brown and Sharpe employed 16,000 people. I don't know how that would break down, but a considerable number of them were women out in the factory running the machines."
Drilling Bullet Casings
"When the war came, women went to work for the first time in factories and driving trucks. If a delivery truck came to your house, a woman would be driving it. The women were postmen. Up until that time, we didn't have women postmen. The women were garbage people. They were because all the available young men were in the service.
I started work in a war plant, Federal Products in Providence, where they made gauges and precision instruments. They taught us how to make these micrometers. We were taught how to do everything in that line. I was top notch, but I couldn't do anymore than what they had shown me. I did it so well that I could take tension in my fingers to know just how a gauge would run. That was the biggest thing for the war effort.
People came in from the government telling us that we were part of the war, that we had to do the best we could, and we would make these indicators that were going out all over to precision places. We had such a feeling of being part of the war."
Who took Care of the Children?
"War nursery schools. Providence, Rhode Island. Mothers who work in war plants call for their children at a war nursery in the Chalkstone Avenue School in Providence. This Chalkstone Avenue war nursery was one of thirty-five in Rhode Island for pre-school children whose mothers were employed in war work."
Library of Congress
Air Raid Drills
"My primary remembrances of war are from the few years of my childhood - 1943 through 1945 when World War II was around me. I lived in Rhode Island, which was filled with naval bases and sailors. Relatives and friends in the military came to visit. I have a picture with my best friend, Harriet, as we sat on the stoop with three of her uncles, each in a different uniform. I remember: sirens going off in air raid drills; my air-raid warden father making night-rounds in the neighborhood to make sure no light shone through windows; tops of car headlights painted black to reflect light downward; my mother rolling bandages to be sent overseas to wrap soldiers wounds; tokens that allowed us to have butter; and my uncle Eddie who did clerical work in the army because his glasses kept him out of combat. I remember feeling fear and awe seeing the white satin plaques hanging in the windows of Gold Star Mothers showing the number of sons they had lost in battle.
Where I lived, everyone knew the war was happening, everyone was involved in some way, and everyone supported it. There was no question of its validity. It was a conflict that had to happen and military personnel, and their families were honored for their bravery and sacrifices."
Marian L. Knapp
At The Universities
As World War II progressed many Providence students joined the armed services, and by commencement day, April 16, 1944, just a fraction of the original class remained. Only thirty-two degrees were awarded to the members of the senior class, two of whom were returning World War II veterans. The class of 1944 was the smallest since the college's first commencement in 1923.
Yet despite their lack of numbers and the hardships of the war, the class of 1944 continued the Providence College tradition of producing the annual Veritas yearbook. The 1944 volume, however, was remarkably different from the printed volumes of prior years. In line with the sacrifices of the war, the class of 1944 decided to produce a yearbook using minimal materials.
According to an April 1944 article in the Providence Journal Bulletin, the class voted against using any materials that were strategic to the war effort. Therefore, to avoid using new copper plates, a metal integral to the printing process, images of campus buildings and administration members were cut out of old volumes of the Veritas.
Helping to Win The War
"The bristling antennas, miles of wire and all the technicians are gone now, but the old Suddard Farm on Chopmist Hill in Scituate is still dotted with the ghostly reminders of one of World War II's best-kept and most important secrets. For it was here on Chopmist Hill in March, 1941, that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under Commissioner George E. Sterling, established and began operating a top-secret, radio-monitoring station. It was the largest in a nationwide network of 13 similar installations, and -- due to peculiarities of the terrain and certain atmospheric conditions -- it was the most effective. The station on Chopmist Hill could intercept distant radio signals with astonishing clarity, and in wartime, that was a critical advantage. While Rhode Island joined the nation in home-front sacrifice -- severe gasoline rationing, ersatz chocolate and horsemeat instead of beef, to name a few -- the band of 40 radio operator-technicians from the FCC's Radio Intelligence Division (RID) conducted a superb spy operation that directly affected the waging and final outcome of the war. Personnel in Scituate routinely monitored weather reports that were a key to troop movements and bombing missions in Europe. With uncanny frequency, the station intercepted the radio transmissions of German spys positioned in South America and North Africa."
Ian W. Cumming
Suddard Farm is now a private residence