Our War Too: Women in Service is a groundbreaking special exhibit honoring the nearly 350,000 American women who answered the call to serve their country during World War II. On display in the Senator John Alario, Jr. Special Exhibition Hall from November 11, 2023, through July 21, 2024, this exhibit recognizes servicewomen’s wartime efforts and celebrates their accomplishments, the impacts of which extend into the present day. After its initial run at the Museum, the exhibit will be available for travel to other host venues.
The popular and historical narrative of American women during World War II often focuses on those who worked on the Home Front, while stories of women who volunteered for vital roles in the uniformed services are largely underrecognized. Our War Too: Women in Service salutes the hundreds of thousands of women who served in the women’s component branches of the Army, Coast Guard, Navy, and Marine Corps, and with the civilian Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), as well as the additional 73,000 women who served in the Army and the Navy Nurse Corps.
Our War Too features unique and colorful artifacts from the Museum’s collection, many on display for the first time, that highlight the personal stories and motivations of individual servicewomen. As recruitment efforts marketed service as both a patriotic duty and a wise career move, women utilized their talents and expertise to fill crucial gaps across different levels of the Armed Forces. Whether working in traditionally female roles or taking on unexpected tasks, servicewomen learned new skills and gained experience they would never have earned outside of wartime. But these opportunities came with limitations. Women were expected to serve temporarily, on an emergency basis, and did not have a full sense of belonging within the military despite answering the call of duty to their country. Our War Too examines the struggles of servicewomen who often waged personal battles with families, combated negative stereotypes and public resistance, and grappled with discrimination, all while facing physical danger in the skies, seas, and battlefronts across the world.
In addition to artifacts, Our War Too’s digital elements include an interactive scrapbook that will allow visitors to explore some of the treasures within the Museum’s archive of wartime albums and memory books curated by women to remember their time in service. Visitors will also have the opportunity to hear from women WWII veterans in their own words through stations featuring We Were There interactive biographies. Film pieces examine women’s service in the war and their legacy today, featuring interviews with women who served in the footsteps of WWII volunteers.
Pioneering WWII servicewomen remain role models for girls and young women, especially those within or considering national service. Women are the fastest-growing veteran group, numbering two million nationwide. As the fight for equal rights continues, Our War Too: Women in Service recognizes the path forged by servicewomen in World War II that is still being traveled by women in the American military today.
This exhibit is presented by the Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Foundation.