Women's Army Corps
The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps was established on May 15,1942 with Executive Order 9163 or Public Law 554 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The order was meant to establish non-combat service with the United States Army for women by allowing them to contribute to the war effort outside of manufacturing and labor. The Navy soon followed suit with the creation of the WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service), but it was egalitarian and full military status as opposed to simply auxiliary.
The auxiliary status meant that the WAACs had no military status and thus had no rights to equal rank, pay, and benefits, nor were they covered under the Geneva Convention if injured, captured, or killed while in service abroad.
Amidst the cries for equality, President Roosevelt disbanded the WAAC and instated the Women's Army Corps on July 1, 1943. The WACs' auxiliary status was dropped, making them full members of the military. Women in the WAC had rights for advancement in the ranks and equal pay as well as benefits.
Soon after President Roosevelt passed Executive Order 9163, a recruitment campaign spread across the United States in an effort to persuade women to join the WAAC. A similar campaign was launched a year later with the creation of the WAC.
Recruitment posters played on the notions of pride, patriotism, and even equality in order to persuade young women to join in the service.
"This is my war too!" had the effect of unifying women, depicting the war effort as something to which all American adults had an obligation. It places women on equal footing with men, representing the agency that women possessed in their decision to enlist in the United States military.
The goal of the stark, poignant "Do Your Part" WAAC poster was to evoke American women's sense of pride and duty, encouraging women to stand strong and do their fair share in the war effort.
"Speed them back; join the WAAC" was equally poignant. The sole WAAC woman standing with what appears to be a whistle in her hand appears in front of an image of United States servicemen. This, coupled with the heading, brings forth the attitude that it was a young woman's responsibility to join the war effort because her enlistment could mean the difference between life or death, a short war or a long war for American soldiers serving in combat.
The "Are you a girl with a Star-Spangled heart?" poster invokes not only the idea of feminine patriotism, but also the need for women to join because "thousands of army jobs need filling."
The WAVES, or Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service, the Women's Reserve of the United States Naval Reserve, soon began circulating their own recruitment posters. The WAVES posters used the same tactics as the WAAC and WAC, drawing on American women's sense of patriotism and noble sacrifice in the name of their country and of their men.
"Enlist in the Waves, Release a man to fight at sea" depicts a woman saluting in a show of patriotism. The subheading, "Release a Man to Fight at Sea" brings forth a sense of duty to one's country. For each new Wave recruit, a man was released into combat, bringing an American victory closer one recruit at a time.
The "You'll be happy too and so proud" poster especially plays on ideas of unity and pride, depicting a large group of Waves in their Navy uniforms, smiling out of joy and pride in their service to the United States.