Manufacturing

Many have regarded World War II as a "production war," meaning that the country's ability to remain stable and successful was predicated on its ability to produce. Many industries who were known for making car parts or producing steel were now being called to produce aircraft parts and bullets. Toledo -- who had already made its mark as an industrial city with major manufacturers like Libbey-Owens-Ford and Willys-Overland Motors -- was one of the cities called to immediate action when the United States entered the war.  Increasing production also meant increasing the volume of workers, which led to many women joining the factory lines.  Women were also called into industrial jobs outside of factories, working in shipyards and on the railroads.

Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Company, Women Manufacturing Safety Glass for Military Aircraft, 1943

In Toledo during WWII, women working for glass manufacturing plant Libbey-Owens-Ford manned machines that produced laminated safety glass for military aircraft.

Libbey-Owens-Ford, originally known at the time for making glass for automobiles, became heavily involved in making glass parts for military aircraft during the war, like B-17s and B-25s.  As women were hired in to the production plants, their work moved beyond being clerical in nature, becoming every part of the process. The most vital product that came out of Libbey-Owens-Ford was the laminated safety glass.  Women worked in the manufacturing lines that developed it, working with pressure chambers and lamination machinery.  Women workers also operated air guns, which cleaned the glass before shipping it off.  Aside from glass products, women of L-O-F also worked in the Plaskon divison with resin glue to hold together the pieces of plywood that made up the aircrafts.  In most cases, the glue was used to mold thin pieces of plywood together to create sheets, which helped in forming wings, flaps, stabilizers, etc. 

Three Ladies in a Jeep, Willys-Overland

Three women sit in a Willys-Overland Jeep as it balances on four bottles; a WWII product demonstration.

Like Libbey-Owens-Ford, Willys-Overland Motors were called to set aside their routine production during the war.  During WWII, Willys-Overland mass produced the Jeep for United States military bases on both the home front and overseas.  Known to us as an everyday vehicle today, the Jeep was debuted as the war's premier vehicle, marking Willys-Overland with great importance and value.  Because of the monumental demand for the Jeep during these years, the factory lines had to be high in volume and efficient, which, like Libbey-Owens-Ford, generated an influx of women in these positions. The labor of women workers at Willys-Overland included handling and assessing automobile parts, as well as participating in the assemblage of the cars themselves.  By the end of the war, the inclusion of women in the factories resulted in some becoming plant supervisors, and Willys-Overland was even awarded recognition by the Army and Navy for their valuable efforts.