Female trainees at the Harrisburg Shops, Middletown, PA, circa 1944.
flipFlip to African-American women trainees at Carrie Furnace learning masonry skills, Pittsburgh, PA, October 1944.
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Three women work on Machines.

Credit: Courtesy of the Pennsylvania State Archives

At the height of World War II, women accounted for one of every four war workers. In desperate need of skilled workers Pennsylvania's State Department of Public Instruction in 1942 set up a War Production Training program for the federal government in 167 school districts that trained 750,000 people, including 121,041 women and 55,030 African Americans. The Middletown Air Service Command, across the Susquehanna River from the New Cumberland Reception Center, stockpiled parts and provided overhauls for military airplanes. After America entered the war, Middletown's workforce swelled from 500 to more than 18,000, nearly half of them women.

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