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Women’s involvement in World War II

By Zachary Araki
On March 15, 2018

Assistant Director for Curatorial Services for The National WWII Museum Kimberly Guise speaks about women filling the employment vacancy during World War II. Zachary Araki/The Lion's Roar

The department of history and political science invited Assistant Director for Curatorial Services for The National WWII Museum Kimberly Guise to discuss women’s involvement in World War II for Women’s History Month.

Guise presented “A Crackerjack Team: Louisiana Women in World War II” in the Student Union Theater on March 14 at 11 a.m.

“Women were very proud to be part of the effort,” said Guise. “It wasn’t always easy for them, but women worked hard at it. And that was something that came through in the talk. Women took pride in doing a good job, so not just learning these new things, but I think it’s very exciting. The war created additional opportunities for women that had not been available previously and allowed women to earn additional money.”

A “long path of study” led Guise to work at the museum after getting a degree in German language and history followed by a master’s degree in library science from Louisiana State University. Guise enjoys finding, learning about and sharing personal stories in her line of work.

“I really enjoy getting to know people through this material and realizing that no matter what the experiences, they’re all human experiences that people can relate to,” said Guise. “So, I think people tend to think of World War II history as black and white. You see these photos. It’s so long ago, but they are experiences within that that we can all relate to I think. It’s getting to learn about those experiences and bringing those to life to a larger audience that makes me excited.”

Guise shared her thoughts on being a speaker for the lecture series during Women’s History Month.

“I’m honored,” said Guise. “I’m happy to speak to see new audiences, get outside of the museum on this lovely day and be a part of this series.”

Guise’s title choice came from an oral history by Rosemary Elfer, a woman who worked at Higgins Industries during the war.

“She refers to herself and to the women she worked with at Higgins Industries in New Orleans as a crackerjack team, so an excellent or first-rate team,” said Guise. “Cracker jack isn’t a term that’s used much anymore except for the snack food and the candy.”

Guise discussed her topic selection.

“I was asked to present on women for Women’s History Month, so women in Louisiana during the war,” said Guise. “I’ve spoken on this topic many times and very interested and engaged with the content.”

Freshman psychology major Courtney Booth attended the lecture for more than a class.

“I was interested in finding out about women because I don’t feel like it’s talked about as much,” said Booth. “It was encouraged in my class, but I also came because I wanted to come and find out more about how they were treated around in this time and their opportunities.”

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