Beulah Dugas Day

A Home Front worker, featured in the traveling exhibit The Pelican State Goes to War, visits The National WWII Museum. 

While there was no official declaration, Saturday, October 20, served as Beulah Dugas Day at The National WWII Museum, as one celebrated "Rosie" from wartime shipbuilding in New Orleans visited with nearly two dozen members of her extended family. Dugas, 95 years old, from the St. Martinville, Louisiana, area, joined many other women from small communities who migrated to New Orleans to fill industrial roles traditionally held by men. She became a welder.

The story of Beulah Laviolette Dugas and an image of her during the war are featured in the Museum's traveling exhibit The Pelican State Goes to War: Louisiana in World War II, curated by James Linn IV and presented by The Alta and John Franks Foundation. She is also profiled in a teaching resource book produced by Museum educators for use in schools across the state, and available for downloading through the Museum's website. The exhibit is currently on display at the R.W. Norton Art Gallery in Shreveport, Louisiana. 

An enlarged, framed copy of the archival photo of Dugas—young, smiling, standing in front of a batch of hanging laundry—was given to her in honor of her visit with the enthusiastic family group. The visit was coordinated by Dugas's daughter Maxine Bourge, from St. Martinville, and her nephew Mike Laviolette in New Orleans. Many of the family members wore copies of the identification badge that Dugas wore during her shipyard labors.

The exhibit highlighting Dugas reads as follows:

"Beulah Dugas was 18 years old and working in St. Martinville, sewing uniforms for soldiers to support her family of 11, when an opportunity arose at Delta Shipbuilding in New Orleans. She volunteered and trained for six weeks at a welding school in Lafayette. Pay at Delta started at 75 cents per hour. Dugas worked at Delta for two years, eventually earning as much as $2.25 per hour. While she sent most of her money to her family, Dugas kept a small amount for herself which she later used to buy a baby bed for her first child."

As Dugas chatted with relatives near The Arsenal of Democracy: The Herman and George R. Brown Salute to the Home Front exhibit Saturday, she said, "I was so proud to be able to work at that time—the men were all going to war." Asked about her depiction in the exhibit, she said: "It makes me feel wonderful."


Coleman Warner

Coleman Warner is the former Director of the President and CEO Emeritus Office. A historian and former journalist, Warner provided writin...
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