Unofficial Lobbying

Officially, there were no plans for women to be a part of any activities during World War II. But prior to the war, wrangling had been taking place inside and outside of the Navy.

Joy Bright Hancock, the former WWI Yeomanette, was working as a civilian in the Bureau of Aeronautics. They realized the need for women, by her account in her oral history, but were frustrated by what they saw as a lack of vision by Naval officials.

Admiral Radford [the head of BuAer] wrote a letter to BuPers [Naval Bureau of Personnel] and asked what were their plans including women?  You know what his answer was.  ‘We have no plans, and we have no intention of using them.’  And Capt. Radford said, ‘There we go again.  No looking ahead by the black shoe boys.’  Then began the struggle to get legislation introduced under the counter, which we did.  And that put BuPers on the spot.  They were really forced to take affirmative action.

BuPers had their own internal lobbyist for women in the Navy: Barnard College professor Elizabeth Reynard, who took a leave of absence from the college in early 1942 to take a special job as a civilian assistant to the Chief of Naval Personnel. But Reynard, unlike Hancock, had little history with the Navy, and it’s unclear if her efforts were successful.

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Unofficial Lobbying     Virginia Gildersleeve    JOy Bright Hancock    Elizabeth Reyanard
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