Women in the Second World War
Clare Boothe Luce is best remembered as a congresswoman (1942-1946), ambassador, playwright, socialite, and spouse of magazine magnate Henry R. Luce of Time-Life-Fortune. Less familiar is Luce's wartime journalism, which included a book, Europe in the Spring (1940) and many on-location articles for Life. Though she covered a wide range of World War II battlefronts, Luce considered her war reportage merely "time off" from her true vocation as playwright. Nonetheless, Luce endured the discomforts, frustrations, and dangers encountered by even the most seasoned war correspondent. Besides experiencing bombing raids in Europe and the Far East, she faced house arrest in Trinidad by British Customs when a draft Life article about poor military preparedness in Libya proved too accurate for Allied comfort. Luce's unsettling observations led longtime friend Winston Churchill to revamp Middle Eastern military policy. Luce's initial encounter with the war in 1940 produced Europe in the Spring, her first non- fiction book. Anxious to convince fellow Americans of the dangers of isolationism, Luce wrote a vivid, anecdotal account of her four-month visit to "a world where men have decided to die together because they are unable to find a way to live together."
Military and political events overseas were not the only subjects reporters and photographers covered during World War II. Photographer Esther Bubley (b. 1921) found ample subject matter to explore on the American homefront as the nation mobilized for war. Twenty-year-old Bubley arrived in Washington, D.C., in 1941, fresh from art school and a short stint with Vogue and eager to earn a living with her camera. Although she soon found work as a lab technician at the National Archives, Bubley's ambition was to work for Roy Stryker. Stryker, head of the documentary photography project of the Historical Section, Farm Security Administration (FSA) Documentary Photo project from 1935 to 1943, was an outstanding mentor and teacher, who attracted young photographers to work for him. During her off-hours, Bubley set out to prove her camera skills by snapping wartime subjects around the nation's capital. Her unvarnished images of life in the city's boarding houses for war workers impressed Stryker enough to recruit the aspiring photographer into the Office of War Information (OWI), where the Historical Section had been relocated. OWI sent Bubley on at least one cross-country bus trip, during which she produced hundreds of images of a country in transition from the doldrums of the Great Depression to the fevered pace of war. Unlike many of her colleagues, however, Bubley was not drawn to the awesome industrial complex spawned by the war, preferring instead to focus on average Americans. "Put