The Blog of Toledo Lucas County Public Library
When we celebrate Women’s History Month, we may be quicker to acknowledge the miraculous lives of women that transformed the world as we know it on a national, or even global, front. However, local women have made, and continue to make, an extreme difference. Even during World War II – a war in which the military was so heavily focused on increased production and the number of men on the battlefield – Toledo women found their place in the country’s military effort.
In honor of Women’s History Month, and in correlation to the newly installed exhibit “The American Woman & World War II” at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, here are the stories of local women that made a difference through their contributions to the military during WWII.
Auxiliary Rose Stone, First Bulgarian Women to Enter the United States Military
Toledo native Rose Stone arrived in the United States in 1914 where she became a legal citizen. When she entered the Women's Army Corps in January 1943, she became the first ever Bulgarian woman to enter any branch of the United States military. She was stationed in Boca Raton, where she would participate in the field shows as a dancer, embracing her Bulgarian heritage. At the time, the impact that her induction had on the community was so renowned that one of the dance costumes she wore as a young girl was put on exhibit at the Toledo Museum of Art.
Sergeant Margaret Chick, Secretary to Dwight D. Eisenhower
In 1942, Margaret Chick was the first Toledo woman to join the Woman's Army Corps. She trained in Iowa and eventually began work overseas. During her time in the war, Chick became the secretary to (then) General Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower, who later became the 34th President of the United States. While she was overseas working for the General, she would travel between North Africa and England to perform her duties.
Norma Jean Allen, First Toledo Woman to Enlist in the Marines
With its very high standards, the U.S. Marine Corps was a very meticulous branch when it came to who could be accepted. Any woman applying needed to have a high school diploma with some form of experience that could apply to their role in the Marines. Norma Jean Allen, a secretary for Willys-Overland Motors, was the first Toledo woman to do this. In order to complete her acceptance, Allen was required to pass physical and aptitude tests to prove her endurance and strength. She was sworn in in 1943.
Shirley Chapman, Only Toledo Woman to be the Mistress of Ceremonies in an Overseas USO Troupe
Shirley Chapman, a Toledo native, was the only known Toledo woman to entertain troops overseas in her own USO troupe. She and her husband, Arthur Angel, who was also her manager, lived in Hollywood for a year before traveling abroad. Their travels began in North Africa and Sicily, where they eventually joined the 5th army in Rome, Italy, to entertain.
Lois M. Thompson, Air Service Widow
In March of 1943, Lois M. Thompson lost her husband, Lieutenant Jay R. Thompson, to an airplane crash. To keep her husband’s love and passion alive, Thompson entered the Army Ferrying Command Training Service so that she, too, could learn to fly and keep the Thompson name up in the air. She entered the service in January 1944.
To view the entire collection of WWII Women newspaper clippings, check out our Local History & Genealogydepartment or click below: