Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

March 11, 1944

On March 11, 1944, the Cleveland Call and Post ran an advertisement for the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). “Calling Women of Ohio!” the advertisement announced. “The WAC offers you travel, opportunity, service, training.” I was familiar with WAC advertisements from Donna Knaff’s Beyond Rosie the Riveter: Women of World War II in American Popular Graphic Art, but I had never seen a WAC ad pitched to African-American women. This Call and Post ad featured Pvt. Helen Whiteside of Toledo, Ohio, but told readers, “Helen is not Enough—You are Needed Too.”  To be eligible women had to be between 20 and 49 years old, without children under 14 years old, and have good health and excellent character.

A similar WAC advertisement calling for “Army ‘Queens’” ran on September 4, 1943, in the Chicago Defender and New York Amsterdam News.  This ad described “Training Race WACS” in Fort Des Moines, Iowa: “‘Intensive’ is the word for the basic training program of the Women’s Army Corps. It must be of necessity. Members of the Corps at all WAC Training Centers are given four weeks of basic training which converts them from civilians into military personnel.” Just a few lines below this description of “intensive” training, readers found a pitch from Queen Hair Dressing, which co-sponsored this WAC ad: “And for ‘Queens’ of Beauty, Queen Hair Dressing adds a lovely young looking gloss to the hair—makes it glow with all its loveliness” (click to view PDF of ad).

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