Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Susan D. Becker


Many historians have studied World War II and its effect on women, but few look at the efforts of black women in homefront defense. This study addresses the questions in what ways did African American women participate on the homefront? Who volunteered, and how did national African American women's groups motivate members to work for segregationist organizations? Evidence from local and national sources, including Red Cross national memoranda, Red Cross minute books from Knox County, local newspapers, and national African American women's clubs magazines. suggest that African American women volunteered on many different levels in Knoxville. They joined groups directed by national sororities, the U.S.O., the Red Cross, and local church groups. During World War II, African American organizations promoted a non-violent protest against inequality through participation in the war. This thesis focuses on the African American recruiting guidelines of the Red Cross and Joint Army and Navy Boards and committees (U.S.O.) and the volunteerism policies of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, and the National Association of Colored Women. In addition, it will highlight club women's participation in Knoxville's nursing and first-aid classes, production units, U.S.O.s, and local grass-roots victory efforts.

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