Winter 2020 Educator Guide - Brooklyn Navy Yard and World War II
Constructing America's Warships
In his article for New York Archives Magazine, Laurence M. Hauptman details the history of the Brooklyn Navy Yard through the experiences of those who worked there. Having compiled oral history accounts of former laborers, from African American machinists to women welders and more, Hauptman’s Can-Do Shipyard presents the rich history of the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s workers who were “instrumental in the United States’ achievement of victory in the war.”
Compelling Question: How did changes in America’s workforce diversity impact the war effort during World War II?
Setting the Stage
Show “Hedy Lamarr: Women in World War II” courtesy of PBS Learning Media.
Staging Question: What were some of Hedy Lamarr’s contributions to America’s war effort? Why was she encouraged by the government to focus her efforts on selling war bonds?
Taking Informed Action: Find a member of your local community who has served in the military. Interview that person and write an oral history of their experience.
Guided Reading Questions
1. List three reasons why someone chose to work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
2. During World War I, what made the Brooklyn Navy Yard unique?
3. Clarence Irving, a machinist working at the Navy Yard, referred to it as a “city within a city.” What did he mean by this?
4. What facilities could be found at the Brooklyn Navy Yard? List as many as possible.
5. How did the role of women working at the Brooklyn Navy Yard change during World War II?
6. What were the conditions like for women who worked at the Navy Yard?
7. Who else faced adversity in the workplace at the Navy Yard? What was their experience like?
8. What were some of the more famous accomplishments of the workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard?
9. What happened to the women working at the Navy Yard after World War II? What was the overall fate of the Navy Yard after the Korean War?
10. What does the experience of these workers tell you about the war effort on the home front?