Trailblazing and Pioneering Mapmakers: A Case Study of Women Cartographers and Geographers during World War II
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DeLong, Mary E.
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CitationDeLong, Mary E. 2013. Trailblazing and Pioneering Mapmakers: A Case Study of Women Cartographers and Geographers during World War II. Master's thesis, Harvard University, Extension School.
AbstractThis thesis examines the role of women geographers and cartographers during World War II and their post-war careers. Like the celebrated Rosie the Riveters, who worked in the heavy defense industry during the war, the largely unknown women mapmakers, or Millie the Mappers, were also indispensable to the war effort. In my research, I attempt to dispel the widely held belief and argument that almost all of the women who worked during World War II were forced to forfeit their positions to the returning veterans at the end of the war, as experienced by the Rosie the Riveters. This study will also refute the claims that the employment gains made by women in the workforce during the war were not permanent and it will illustrate that the women mapmakers thrived as a result of their wartime work experiences and, in fact, advanced in their careers.
By researching, identifying, analyzing, and developing seven case studies of women cartographers and geographers, this thesis will bring to light via primary sources the roles these women played during the war and their many and significant accomplishments to the war effort. In addition to having very successful careers during the war, these women retained their jobs or found new positions at the same or higher levels in the post-war era. They did not have to take other jobs at reduced pay or status as experienced by most of the women who worked in the defense industries.
My research shows that a large factor in the women mapmakers being able to retain their jobs was a result of their high level of education; professionalism; relevant work experience; technical skills; foreign language proficiency; and the nature of the jobs in the mapmaking profession. In addition, the fields of geography and cartography were transformed during the war with new processes and technologies for map production. Furthermore, intelligence and information gathering, which are part of the research and mapmaking process, assumed a critical role during World War II and the post-war years when the United States was thrust into the Cold War. There continued to be a need for maps and intelligence information, as well as mapmaking personnel, by the expanding Federal Government to plan strategy in foreign and geopolitical matters.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37367528
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