I keep circling back to stories in development and here is another example of a woman who never received her due recognition. I have featured women photographers and journalists who rose to prominence with their courage during WWI and WWII. Because they were women, they could go under cover with less suspicions. No longer hidden in the footnotes, women are taking their places in the history they helped make.
Two of the most popular non-fiction WWII narratives of recent years, Tom Brokaw’s “The Greatest Generation” and Ken Burns’s “The War,” include no mention of WWII women’s military divisions, and a broader field of popular works on WWII has tended to reduce the role and contribution of women to “Rosie the Riveter” narratives of working women on the home front.
This is why I give them their limelight and hopefully inspire others to stand up for changing the narratives.
CHARLOTTE MANSFIELD: A WOMAN PHOTOGRAPHER GOES TO WAR traces the pioneering military career of Charlotte Dee Mansfield, a photographer and photo analyst in the Women’s Army Corps. Mansfield’s remarkable story is told through actor readings of her personal writings and the rich visual memoir of her unpublished photographs.
Charlotte Dee Mansfield was born in Hanford, CA, August 31, 1915 and moved to Oklahoma when she was eight years old. She passed away Sunday, December 30, 2007, at the age of 92. She had been an avid photographer ever since her dad took her to the darkroom of an old Army buddy and she saw strips of film hanging on a line. She graduated from Garber High School in 1934 and then went on to Tonkawa College before receiving her Bachelors degree in English from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1941. She returned there in 1981 to complete a BS in Photo Journalism and a Masters Degree in Journalism in 1983. Her fascination for photography followed her through all her educational years and on into the WAAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps) when WWII came along. She served in England during WWII, and was discharged after the war. She remained as a civilian for 15 months and re-enlisted in the WAC (Women’s Army Corps) where she worked in Photo Labs at U.S. Bases and in Germany. When the AF became a separate service, she became a WAF and stayed in the AF until her retirement in 1973 after 30 years of military service where she earned the rank of SMSgt(E-8). Photography remained her first love throughout her life. She was an active member of the Oklahoma Camera Club since 1963. Charlotte was survived by her companion of 37 years, Lorraine Caddy; three cats she loved dearly; her brother, Vernon of Waco, TX.