Wednesday, March 21, 2018

N.C.'s Liberty Armada-- Part 6: Fast Growth and Role of Women

The North Carolina Shipbuilding Company took shape in a matter of months.  It sat on 57 acres along the Cape Fear River, had its own bus terminal, cafeteria, police and fire departments and even its own hospital.

Four hundred Newport News employees were transferred to Wilmington from Virginia.  But, more than 500 men and women were recruited locally: plumbers, carpenters and electricians along with unskilled trainees who would have to learn on the job.

At first, women had to do less strenuous jobs, but quickly showed they were capable of more physically demanding jobs such as plumbing and welding.  They dressed in slacks and blouses and wore work shoes.  This last thing was made difficult because steel-toed work boots came just in men's sizes.  Many wore Boy Scout shoes or went with open-toe footwear so broken toes were a constant hazard.


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