the United States entered a World War that would significantly alter
the future of this country. At that time, the economy was beginning
to emerge from a deep depression, and the isolationist point-of-view
family level, the man was viewed as the "bread winner," and women
cared for the home and looked after the children. Overnight, this
"typical family" concept was changed as men went to war and women
accepted war-production jobs.
the Weather Bureau was beginning to make technological and scientific
advances. Both the teletype and radiosonde were still relatively new
to the Bureau (less than 10 years had elapsed since their implementation),
and research was being conducted into the coupling of upper-air atmospheric
conditions to surface weather patterns. By today's standards, the
weather office of the early 1940s was Spartan, containing a few desks,
thermometers, barometers, a teletype, and light tables. Also during
this time, office staffs were comprised entirely of men. In 1941,
only two women were listed in the observer and forecaster ranks of
the Weather Bureau.
staffing ratio was changed dramatically during World War II. By 1945
over 900 women were working as Weather Bureau observers and forecasters,
and many offices were comprised almost entirely of women. As with
other parts of the U.S. war society, women stepped into Weather Bureau
offices and showed they could perform observing and forecasting duties
as well as, if not better than, men.
exhaustive literature searches (manual and computerized) of the NOAA
library, Library of Congress, and university libraries, no documentation
could be found on the many contributions women made to the Weather
Bureau during World War II. Since many of those women are now in their
60s, 70s, or 80s, it is appropriate that they be formally recognized
for their devotion during the National Weather Service Centennial
Celebration. This publication documents the experiences and impressions
of women who worked for the Weather Bureau during World War II. As
one reads through these narratives, certain underpinnings become clear.
It is obvious all these women possess a "can-do" attitude. They were
enthusiastic workers in the Weather Bureau and remained active after
leaving government service. They also were extremely dedicated; many
indicated their proudest accomplishments were associated with taking
perfect observations, making good radio (live) broadcasts, performing
quality pilot briefings, etc.
the Weather Bureau was a positive experience. They indicated they
generally were well treated by management and accepted by other workers.
The term "Weather Bureau Family" appears several times in the document.
For a few, observing and forecasting the weather was considerably
more exciting than other jobs, and a sense existed of contributing
to the war effort. For the most part, women in this document were
in their early 20s when they entered the Weather Bureau. Education
varied from high school to college, and most had limited work experience
of any type, although a few had been teachers.
World War II, most women entered the Weather Bureau as Junior Observers,
although some later became forecasters. On-the-job training was provided
by the Weather Bureau initially; however, training courses lasting
two months eventually were established at several Regional Offices.
a small fraction of the women who worked in the Weather Bureau during
World War II are mentioned in this document, but it should provide
an indication of conditions during the 1940s. The first part of this
publication presents an overview of the war years as women entered
the work force in large numbers, as well as basic information about
the Weather Bureau. The second and more important part is comprised
of individual stories from the women themselves. Almost 50 years have
elapsed since the beginning of World War II. Although this publication
is only a sketch of the many contributions made by Weather Bureau
women during the war, it is an attempt to recognize the hard work,
commitment, and devotion of these individuals. In short, it is a token
of the sincere appreciation offered by a grateful agency.
Elbert W. Friday
Assistant Administrator for Weather Services