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To Herman W. Steinkraus
February 15, 1944 [Washington, D.C.]
My dear Mr. Steinkraus:
I am glad to have your letter of January twenty-ninth with its ideas regarding the build-up of the WAC organization.1 I have sent your recommendations to the individual in charge of the campaign and I am quite certain they will be very helpful. I further intend to talk the matter over with Director of the WAC, Colonel Hobby.
Your comments on the basic military training are excellent. But they are based primarily on your experience in dealing with women who are living separate lives except for the focal point of the job. Billeting of WAC personnel is feasible in only a few stations. As a consequence, it is necessary for the Army to introduce enough of that basic disciplinary training to bring order and contentment to those who are obliged to live in groups, who may change their station at any time, and particularly to those who will serve overseas in the various theaters of war. Long experience has shown that men or women living under those conditions and under the rigorous responsibilities of those charged with fighting a war must be well-ordered, healthy and hardy. No substitute for basic disciplinary training has yet been found that will as quickly and effectively introduce those qualities in the individual.
Your other comments are valuable and will be thoughtfully considered in the effort to invest the lives of the women in our Army with the dignity, the protection, and, wherever posssible, the comforts and social advantages to which they are entitled.
I am probably the strongest Army advocate of the WAC organization and I am fully convinced that a great deal of the work of the Army can be done better by women than by men. I am deeply interested in a more successful recruiting campaign because the Corps must be rapidly enlarged. But along with these desires goes my view that this must be a military organization to perform its full and proper part in the war. We will constantly improve the placing of special skills in proper jobs. And with the help of keenly interested friends, such as yourself, we will smooth out the difficulties and bring home to the public the fine organization the women of America have introduced as their principal part in this war.2
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, General Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed letter.
1. Steinkraus, president and general manager of Bridgeport Brass Company in Connecticut, had sent suggestions on how to increase the number of women in the armed services. He had recently heard a news commentator who had returned from overseas battlefronts state that “half of all the jobs in the army could be done equally well by women and thereby release the men for more important uses.” Steinkraus wrote that women were eager to do their share for the war effort, but that they were fundamentally interested in performing their jobs rather than “a lot of men’s type of exercise” and “useless drill followed by assignment to mostly menial duties.” To make the armed services more attractive to women, he recommended that men rather than women officers be in charge; drop the restrictions on dating; allow more women overseas duty; and assign women more challenging jobs commensurate to their abilities. (Steinkraus to Marshall, January 29, 1944, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)
2. See Marshall Statement for Women’s Army Corps Recruiting Campaign, March 21, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-308 [4: 360-61].
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 301-302.