Saturday, May 19, 2012

Women's World Champion Welder 1943

The whole census buzz has me thinking on the 1940's and what was happening on the home front. Women were out working in places they had never before thought to venture. One such woman was my Great Aunt, Vera Anderson. She was a female welder for Ingall's Shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. She became the Women's World Championship Welder in 1943 and then again in 1944. Aunt Vera was touted as, "The pretty blue eyed welder" by newspapers, magazines, and in welding advertisements. She won $350 in war bonds, a silver cup, and a trip to the White House to have tea with Mrs. Roosevelt. Mrs. Roosevelt even wrote of the meeting in her personal writings. The magazine Mademoiselle named her as one of their 1943 Merrit Award Winners. She was only 19 years old.

The American Magazine's "Interesting People" in its May issue1944

The Competition:
After a heated elimination tournament held by Ingall's Shipyard, Vera Anderson was chosen the best of the torch girls and declared the winner and representative for the shipyard. Ingall's then issued a challenge to other yards and the Henry J. Kaiser's Oregon yard took up the challenge. Their challenger was Hermina Strmiska a former housewife.


On May 28th 1943 in Pascagoula, Ms they met and performed like champs. The competition was divided into two parts. With a rest period in between, during which time the men offered their advice. Vera Anderson's time was 24 minutes 46 2/3 seconds with 95.55 on quality. While Hermina Strmiska finished in 29 minutes 9 4/5 seconds and a quality score of 93.50.


Then in 1944 Vera was challenged once more and had to defend her title.  On January 29, 1944, after a four hour contest with Edna Slocum of California, the West Coast Champion, Vera won once again with a 92.26 quality with Mrs. Slocum  having 84. 63 in quality.
Vera Anderson at Ingall's Shipyard far left

Aunt Vera went on after the war to marry and raise a family. She was an ordinary country girl working as a waitress, who went on to become famous, if for just a little while, as one of the many women who left the ideals of womanhood far behind during a time of great sacrifice and hardship. We are extremely thankful for the dedication, time and effort that these women  provided our country in its time of crisis. They were out of their element and yet, they found that they could excel at a man's job in a man's world. They paved the way for the modern woman to continue to do so.

2 comments:

  1. Great story! Its sad to hear of her passing this week. We're cousins as my grandfather is Lars Adon Anderson the youngest son of James Harris Anderson. The spirit and tenacity of your great aunt is exemplary of the Andersons that originally settled in this territory.

    Donny Anderson

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  2. My grandmother is in that photo, Roselle Edmonds.

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