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Forgotten Men and Fallen WomenThe Cultural Politics of New Deal Narratives$
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Holly Allen

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780801453571

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801453571.001.0001

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Civilian Protectors and Meddlesome Women

Civilian Protectors and Meddlesome Women

Gendering the War Effort through the Office of Civilian Defense

(p.134) Chapter 5 Civilian Protectors and Meddlesome Women
Forgotten Men and Fallen Women

Holly Allen

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines how federal officials feminized New Deal social policy through the Office of Civilian Defense (OCD) as the Roosevelt administration mobilized for World War II. The OCD was an inclusive wartime agency that helped U.S. civilians to cope with the country's transition from an isolationist to an interventionist nation-state. It had two divisions, the Civilian Protection Branch and the Civilian Defense Volunteer Office, that worked to fulfill the OCD's mandate, which was to “sustain national morale.” This chapter considers the extent to which OCD narratives and rituals of civic preparedness sustained “national morale” and the ways that federal officials cast New Deal social policy as frivolous social experimentation during the war. It also discusses the emergence of a new affective politics of scapegoating—one that continued to constitute a white masculine public at the expense of women and people of color, but that also cast a hostile eye on feminized New Deal bureaucrats.

Keywords:   social policy, Office of Civilian Defense, World War II, civilian protection, national morale, civic preparedness, New Deal, scapegoating, women, people of color

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