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Uncle Sam Needs You!

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This is the cover of a recruitment booklet – Stenographers and Typists, Uncle Sam Needs You – published by the Army Service Forces in 1943. It provides an interesting window into Washington, D.C. during World War II. As they wrote:

Stenographers and typists, Uncle Sam needs you. (1943)
Stenographers and typists, Uncle Sam needs you. (1943)

Uncle Sam does need you – badly. This is an opportunity for You, and an outstanding means of directly aiding the war effort toward the ultimate goal of final victory and P-e-a-c-e (p.2).

It was organized in a Question & Answer format and covered many topics that potential job seekers – many of whom were women -would have wanted to know like salary, qualifications, and promotion opportunities. Here are a few points about the jobs:

  • Why were they were being recruited? Many current typists and stenographers were recruited by WACS, WAVES, etc., because the demands for record keeping were increasing (p.3).
  • How much could they make? Entry pay for stenographers/typists was $1,752/year including overtime with the possibility of more. For clerical, administrative, and fiscal positions (CAF) stenographers at CAF3, pay was $1,970/year and for those at CAF4 it was $2,190 (p.4).
  • What were the chances of promotion? It was pretty good for those “who really strive to get ahead!” given that there were more vacancies than could have been filled for some positions (p.4).
  • What were the qualifications? Stenographers had to take dictation at a rate of 60 words per minute, typists had to type a minimum of 20 words per minute (p.4).
  • How do they apply and where? They were directed to the Chief of Civilian Personnel at the headquarters of the Army Service Command.
 Typewriter used in information work. United States Department of Agriculture (1937). Arthur Rothstein, FSA/OWI Collection.
Typewriter used in information work. United States Department of Agriculture (1937). Arthur Rothstein, FSA/OWI Collection.

Because Business Reference answers many questions about cost of living, the Q&As in the booklet about living in Washington were also very interesting. To rent a dormitory room with one other person cost about $16.50/month or if someone wanted a single room it was $24/month. For those who chose to live in a private home, the rent was estimated at $35-$55/month with two meals a day, and without meals, the cost was estimated to be $20-$30/month (p.7).

The booklet included a lot of information on other quality of life and lifestyle issues, from transportation and meal costs, to hospital care, annual leave, etc. The transportation system was billed as “favorable beyond your expectations” and cost about 20-30 cents a day depending mode of travel. As for meals, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners were about 30 cents (p.8).  The booklet also did a good job of selling Washington, D.C. by highlighting entertainment, social activities, recreation, cultural attractions, education, and shopping opportunities.

Washington is one of the Nation’s most important and influential centers of culture, education, religion, and historic interest and tradition. It is today more than the capital of the United States; it is the major war capital of the world and the heart of an historic region dating back to the Colonial era (p.14).

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