Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

January 20, 1943

On January 20, 1943, Atlanta Daily World society columnist Alice Holmes-Washington described a farewell party for Mrs. Anita Hawkins who was soon to leave Atlanta for defense work in Mobile, Alabama. The theme for the event was “Victory,” and each guest received packages of vegetable seeds. “Quite patriotic was the gesture,” Holmes-Washington wrote, “especially so since the honoree leaves for war work, and we are asked to supplement our rationed foods with home gardens.”

Society pages were everyday and important parts of black newspapers, but this article (click to view PDF) also points to the work black women performed on the home front during World War II. When I learned about victory gardens and women defense workers in high school and college, I never heard stories about black women planting gardens to prevent food shortages or the hundreds of thousands of “Black Rosies” who broke racial and gender barriers to take jobs in war production or in U.S. government offices. These women came from all walks of life including, in this case, Atlanta’s society circles.  When Holmes-Washington lists the guests in attendance—Mesdames Anita Hawkins, Charlotte Shorter, Eva Cowan, Maude Hatton, Maude Lucky, Mable Mitchell, Ella Hampton, Eva Kelly, Y. E. Rogers, Raymond Carter Green, Lois McMath, Ruth Jackson, and Miss Ruby Wise—I wonder how these women experienced World War II, how many joined Anita Hawkins in the defense industries, and what their “Victory party seeds produced.   

See also: oral history interview with Alice Holmes-Washington available online at George State University Library.

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