On this date 75 years ago, the February 23, 1942 issue of Life Magazine contained this advertisement from Smith Corona telling the nation’s eleven million girls that there was indeed something they could to to help with the war. And they could do it by learning how to type!
Things had to be kept going while the boys were away, and that meant there were countless ways that women always found to help. Volunteers were needed for the Red Cross, civilian defense, draft boards, auxiliary services, and vital social work.
Knowing how to type was always important in peace time, but it was even more useful during war. “Twice-welcome is the girl who brings with her not only the will to serve, but the skill to save precious hours of working time.”
The ad pointed out that typing skill came quickly to women’s deft fingers. They didn’t need the blazing speed of the expert, since all that was needed was the speed sufficient for the workaday world.
All a girl needed was a typewriter, a simple manual, and a few days of practice, and she would be twice as able to help!
Perhaps the ad sounds like hyperbole, but elsewhere in the magazine, we see this woman who brought her typewriter to war. Shown here is Life researcher Shelley Smith Mydans, at work in China. Her husband, Carl Mydans, was a Life photographer, and the two last checked in with the magazine the day after Christmas from Manila. After the fall of Manilia, they were presumed by the magazine to be in a Japanese concentration camp.
The magazine’s presumption was correct, since they were interned in Manila for about a year before being transferred to another camp in China. They were released in 1943 as part of a prisoner of war exchange. After their release, they quickly made their way to Europe to resume their duties, and then returned to the Philippines to cover the liberation of those islands.