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Women in War – Toni Frissell and Janet Flanner

The US Army Signal Corps used to be in charge of combat photography; both still photos and motion pictures.  Doing some research about one topic invariably leads to another, and I spent the better part of the morning learning a great deal about female front-line journalists and photographers in the Second World War. 

Red Cross Coffee Wagon, photo by Toni Frissell, 1942

The Library of Congress has a whole exhibit dedicated to this, called “Women Come to the Front: Journalists, Photographers, and Broadcasters During World War II.”  Two of my favorite stories were about Toni Frissell (Antionette F. Bacon) and Janet Flanner.

Toni Frissell's War Department ID card, 1945

Toni Frissell is most known for fashion photography, but she volunteered her talents to the WWII cause.  She took thousands of photos, from orphans to airmen, during the war.  On volunteering for the American Red Cross in 1941, Frissell said:

“I became so frustrated with fashions that I wanted to prove to myself that I could do a real reporting job.”

Frissel used connections from high-society matrons to pursue war-related work in the United States and Europe. 

Frissel with Europe's children, March 1945

As a columnist for The New Yorker magazine, with a career that lasted five decades, Janet Flanner was a European correspondent.  While nervous on radio, she excelled with the written word.  She wrote “Letter from Paris” for The New Yorker, as well as articles on Hitler, German society, and even the Nuremburg trials. 

One of Flanner's articles on women under the rule of Hitler, from "Women's Home Companion" in Sept 1939

Note: All photos in this entry from the Library of Congress exhibit.

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