Information for the Lady Engineers was collected from the ladies that lived it.
In 1943, just a year plus a few months after Pearl Harbor, the US was immersed in the war effort both at home and overseas. At home the military was drafting manpower to train and send overseas. Industry was busy trying to find a way to provide the workers required to meet the demand for goods to support the war effort. The US Navy was in dire need for the delivery of the F4U-1 Corsair Fighter aircraft from the Chance Vought Corporation. It was the only Navy Fighter available in the US with a demonstrated superiority over the Japanese Zero. Engineers to support the production of the Corsair and the design changes to upgrade the performance were not available.
Chance Vought Aircraft offered to train women to replace the men who were being absorbed by the military. The invitation from Vought was to women who were seniors in college and at the top of their class in the fields of mathematics, science, history and liberal arts. Thousands of young ladies responded and took the acceptance test. Those that were accepted were divided into classes of approximately 50 students and assigned to several different engineering universities to be trained as engineers.
During this time there was also a group of ladies, with little or no college, that passed a test and were accepted for a 4 month course at The Academy of Aeronautics located at LaGuardia Airport in New York. Chance Vought offered these graduates positions, in most cases, as Engineer's Aids
Vought’s Lady Engineers
The program began with the publication of the following article by the Chance Vought Personnel Bureau on January 8,1943.
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Women who were accepted for the scholarship program received directions and instructions prior to registration for classes. Select here to view these documents.
On February 14, 1943 The New York Herald Tribune published the following article announcing the first 24 young women to be accepted for the Chance Vought engineering program. Later the Mirror published a story with photos of some of the students.
Graduation exercises for the first class of Chance Vought scholars was held at the New York College of Engineering. Select here to view the graduation program.
After graduation the ladies became trainees and were issued instructions regarding work clothes in the factory. Select here to view that document.
A menu from the Stratford Candy Kitchen and Luncheonette of the early 1940s is presented as an item of interest. Select here to view the menu.
Select a name, in blue, from the list below the photographs to read their individual stories. Out of the three classes we have only a few individual stories. If anyone can write a story about the lady engineers or can put a name with a face in the first or third classes or knows of someone that could please get in touch with us through this web site.
The first group of graduates.
We have the list of names from the graduation program. We do not know which name goes with which face. Therefor the names listed below the photograph are in alphabetic order.
Ruth Armstrong; Ilene Avery; Dorothy Borrow; Dorothy Becker; Shirley Berkson; Edith Beyer; Dorothy Blotner; Hazel Borne; Louise Boyd; Joan Concannon; Barbera Cramer; Kathryn Hall; Ruth Hannah; Rosaline Harmon; Maizie Ho; Beatrice Junker; Irene Louise Kay (Louise Randall) 5th from the left - front row; Marjorie Kemke; Marion Kingston; Natalie Lepke; Beatrice Lord; Marguerite McCarron; Mattie McFadden; Betty Mallabar; Frances Miller; Joan Nourse; Jean Oberg; Ann-Louise Perkins; Jane Petetin; Barbara Ramsdell; Frances Rugg; Elizabeth Rutter; Margaret Smith; Joanne Solie; Mary Sterns; Cynthia Steitz; Rosina Tucciarone; Isabel Tuell; Helen Virgien; Ada Wing
The second group of graduates.
We have a list of names and will add them later.
Shirley Nissen (Shirley Beers) 1st from the left - second row
Dorothy Davis (Tiny Rudick) 7th from the left - second row
Mary Garnett Anderson (Garnett Carlsen)
The third group of graduates.
We have very little information about this group, only the one name.
Elizabeth Anne Esch (Betty Ann Love) 4th from the right - second row
Vought’s Other Lady Positions
We do not have a list of names for this photograph. There are signatures on the back.
(To view the back of the photograph select here)
Mary Smith (Mary McDonnell) 1st from the Left Back Row
Claire Genor (Claire Litton) 1st from the left Front Row