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women in the weather bureau during world war 2

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Personal View of Maud G. Ogilvie

I began working for the Weather Bureau on June 13, 1944, in Lander, Wyoming. I needed employment and was informed there was an opening at the Weather Bureau, so applied and was hired. I had one year of college, but no work history. At the Weather Bureau, I always used the same name, except I have a nickname that some employees called me - "Bunny."

I heard about the opening from a friend who was being transferred to Anchorage, Alaska, and she suggested I apply for the opening. The training I received was on-the-job training for weather observations and also studying Circular N. The first month I worked was the midnight shift taking hourly observations. I started on other duties as time permitted. I was always received in a very pleasant way by all personnel during my employment with the Weather Service. My first impression was that it was a very complicated position, but challenging and interesting. I felt by studying and help from co-workers I was willing to try to make a success of the employment.

The first year I worked with three other women and the Official in Charge. Our duties were mostly hourly observations, which were telephoned to Rock Springs, Wyoming, to be transmitted, as we did not have a teletype at that time for transmitting the weather information. Also did necessary reports and gave information concerning weather to local people by telephone.

In mid-1945 the Radiosonde was installed. I was trained for that program, which was very interesting. At the time I went to work at the Weather Bureau, the office was located on the third floor of the Federal Building, where all observations were made from the roof. When the Radiosonde program was installed, it was necessary to release them from the ground, an adjacent building was used for inflation. During high winds at time of release we had difficulty releasing due to wires, etc. The, town of Lander decided to erect a new building at the Airport for the Weather Bureau. In May, 1946, all equipment was moved to the new location. It was a great improvement for releasing the Radiosonde. A teletype was installed so all messages were transmitted directly from the station.

There were four women and four men employed to cover the shifts after the Radiosonde program started. The three women [with whom] I started working resigned at the time of the Radiosonde program so three more women were hired to replace them. The Weather Bureau remained in that location until September 20, 1973, when moved to another new building near the old one.

My work consisted of all shifts to cover the work. I worked forty hours a week with eight-hour shifts unless necessary to work overtime. My starting wage was $56.00 every two weeks. I always felt the morale was very good as all employees were very congenial to work with. I resigned from the Weather Bureau on April 13, 1951, the reason being that I was having physical problems with shift work. The shifts had to be rearranged from the regular shifts because of a shortage of personnel.

I cannot say I contributed a great deal, other than I tried to be a congenial worker, doing my duties, being on time and willing to do more when necessary.

It was a most enjoyable time and work was very interesting. I met many interesting people, which I still have contact with since leaving the Weather Bureau. The only low point was having to leave because I was unable to continue the shift work. It was a wonderful experience which I enjoyed greatly, and I would certainly do it again because of the interesting work. Editors' Note - With her report, Ms. Ogilvie included a copy of a very interesting newspaper report by the Wyoming State Journal, dated May 30, 1946, which tells of the move to the new building at the Airport. Following are excerpts from that article which describe the new facility: First observations at the new location were made Tuesday evening. The Weather Bureau now occupies a building especially built for the service, and from that building will be taken the radio-sonde observations, as well as data which has been gathered from instruments here for the past 65 years. Sometime soon there will be installed a radio direction-finding apparatus that will chart even more detailed information on upper air currents. It was to accommodate this latter installation that the new quarters were necessary.

The new building was built by the town of Lander and has been rented to the Weather Bureau. The building is complete, except for the installation of water and gas service. Temporary facilities have been installed in order that the Weather Bureau can move. A fuel oil stove has been installed to serve until the gas line can be laid to serve the building. Drinking water is hauled to the building from down town. A semi-modern two-holer provides temporary sanitary facilities.

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