Action Only Preliminary Procedure

The iconic “Rosie the Riveter” poster was painted by J. Howard Miller in 1942. The Westinghouse Corporation commissioned Miller to design a series of motivational posters aimed at boosting female factory workers’ morale. The image has since become one of America’s most recognizable emblems of women’s empowerment.

Following the recent directive sent to all Local Selective Service Boards in Massachusetts to begin immediate preliminary reclassification of all married men with wives only, Colonel Ralph M. Smith, State Director of Selective Service, today urged all married women who can to seek jobs in war industries. The State Director explained that such action on the part of a wife may result in delaying her husband’s entry into service by virtue of her ability or potential ability to take over the job of a younger single man who may be released for service in the armed forces.

It is known, Colonel Smith continued, that many married women who are anxious to work have hesitated to seek employment on the false theory that is a “working wife” they would no longer be financially dependent upon their husbands and that they might jeopardize the latter’s selective service status by the fact that they were working and capable of supporting themselves. The State Director exploded this theory by pointing out that the recent enactment by Congress of the Servicemen’s Dependents Allowance and Allotment Act of 1942 provided for bonafide family relationship in the home rather than actual financial support as a preliminary test of dependency. The intent of Congress, in passing the Allowance and Allotment Act, was to maintain for as long as consistently possible the institution of the home, so that as long as a registrant and his wife were living together and maintaining a home together in a bona-fide family relationship, the husband would not be inducted until men from his category were being called into service. The exceptions to this general rule, Colonel Smith explained, were registrants who married after December 8. 1941, or who married prior to that date and at a time when their selection could be considered imminent.

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Now, in anticipation of meeting future calls for manpower, the 173 local boards in the state have been directed to begin reclassification of married men with wives only. In the process of reviewing the cases of married men, local boards must, in accordance with Selective Service Regulations, give consideration to the fact of whether a wife “is working or is capable of working.” This last phrase, “or is capable of working.” Colonel Smith said, will have an important bearing on whether or not the husband will be placed in Class 1-A. It Is reasonable to assume that, other things being equal, a registrant whose wife is working or is capable of working, will be placed in Class 1-A, so that the many wives who are capable of working and have delayed seeking jobs in the hope that their husbands might be deferred longer might better take employment immediately.

On the basis of past and current performance, the State Director continued, it is self-evident that women have a definite place in war Industries. Time and again in recent months women have definitely proved themselves to be superior to men on certain jobs. The War Department is using women wherever possible on all types of jobs. Private industry has been urged many times in the past several months to begin training of replacements of single men of military age and to use the services of women on all possible tasks. The inevitable result of employment of women in war Industries will be the prolongment of the deferment of married men by exactly the number of single men that are thus released For military service.

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(Originally published in the Norwood Messenger, October 16, 1942)