ONE of the most significant societal changes World War II produced was getting more American married women into the work force. That was previously a rarity – working married women.
Before the war, the majority of married women did not work outside the home.
A 1936 government survey had revealed that 80 percent of the population believed wives should not work if their husbands had jobs.
In fact, according to Bureau of Labor statistics, only 15.5 of married women worked in 1940. Federal law restricting married women from working was talked about, but never proposed. Still, before World War II, a husband and wife could not both have federal government jobs.
Some private companies were just as restrictive.
“Only single women need apply” is a subhead on page 76 in the on-line history of Questar Gas company,
Formerly, Mountain Fuel Supply, this company history recounts how until World War II, the company didn’t employ married women. It was simply a traditional rule that once married, a woman then had her husband as a breadwinner. Thus, she was expected to quit her job after marriage.
If a married woman was still working, then that woman was believed to be keeping some married man out there from having a job.
“Of course, you couldn’t be fired if the company didn’t know you were married,” the Questar history states.
However, by the end of the war, most companies had abandoned that concept and as a result, married women enjoyed more independence and security in working outside the home (even though it was almost always for less money than for men, working the same job).
By the end of World War II, one in four married women were working. That was the first time ever that married women outnumbered single women in the workforce.
More historical tidbits:
-“First woman juror” was a Dec. 17, 1915 headline in the Standard-Examiner.
Just less than a century ago, Ella M. Hall of Tremonton was reported as being selected as the first woman juror ever for Box Elder County. The story also suggested that she has to be one of Utah’s first-ever woman jurors too.
-In another historical note, “Ogden couple wed in coffin room” was a Nov. 13, 1911 headline in the Standard-Examiner.
The story reported how the marriage ceremony of Mary Ludwig and Karl Friedland took place in E. W. Hall’s mortuary chapel at 167 South West Temple Street, Salt Lake City.
The bride was not excited by this strange marriage location and had to be coaxed by her husband-to-be that it would be OK.
After a minister had performed the marriage, the bride stated, “Till death do us part. Let’s get out of here. There’s a ghost tickling me on the shoulder.”
Then, the story stated that a door at the other end of the mortuary loudly slammed shut and then a nearby chair fell over.
“Let’s get out of here,” The bridegroom then proclaimed. “Some of these ghosts might get too fresh!”
The couple then went to a wedding supper at Hotel Utah.
(-Originally published on-line and in print in the Ogden Standard-Examiner on Jan. 29-30, 2015, by Lynn Arave.)
-NOTE: The author, Lynn Arave, is available to speak to groups, clubs, classes or other organizations about Utah history at no charge. He can be contacted by email at: email@example.com