Women Workers, Todd Shipyard, ca. 1943

Industries that would have never considerred hiring women for any sort of job quickly changed their tune during WWII. While men were overseas fighting, women of Brooklyn were contributing to the war effort, and their own financial needs, by making and repairing Navy and other military ships.

Black, white and women of other ethnicities were employed as welders and other trade jobs at the Todd Shipyard dry dock in Erie Basin, as seen in this ca. 1943 photograph by Alfred T. Palmer.  

Before the war, as Todd's own official history notes, women had a very limited role at the shipyard. They quoted a Fortune Magazine feature writer as saying in 1941: "Todd caries its anti-feminine bias to strange lengths even in its No. 1 Broadway headquarters, where messenger boys aspire to become male secretaries (the only kind permitted) and the female telephone operators are kept under lock and key."

By June 1943, the company reported that 5,000 women working in the repair and building yards who where "operating cranes, driving diesel locomotives, working in the mould loft and at bolt cutters, drill presses and lathes in the machine shops."



Item Relations

Item: Todd Shipyards is related to This Item


  • "Women welders on the way to their job at the Todd Erie Basin dry dock ," Photo by Alfred T Palmer. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Call Number: LC-USW33- 025834-C [P&P] Digital ID: (digital file from intermediary roll film) fsa 8e01109 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsa.8e01109

    Mitchell, C. Bradford, and Edwin K. Linen. 1981. Every kind of shipwork: a history of Todd Shipyards Corporation, 1916-1981. New York: The Corporation. 1981

    Strohmetz, Carol A.  Women In Wartime Shipyards: Operating A Drill Press Was Like Using An Egg Beater
    Master's Thesis, University of Southern Mississippi. 2017.

    "Women at Work," The CIO News, November 9, 1942

    The Sunday Star (Washington D.C.), November 22, 1942 [Image of Pearl Banales].

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