1. “A Job Well Done …”: Sturgeon Bay in World War II, As Told by the Workers Themselves. Sturgeon Bay, Wis.: Door County Maritime Museum, [in partnership with The History Company]; 2000. 1 VHS videocassette (15:00 minutes)(THC [i.e., The History Company] ; 1). Notes: Prepared to accompany an exhibit at the Door County Maritime Museum (located in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin), this fifteen-minute video tells the story of the four shipyards in Sturgeon Bay which altogether produced two hundred fifty-eight new ships for the World War II effort, including cargo ships, supply ships, and war ships.

In less than five years, the total employment at these four Sturgeon Bay shipyards grew from less than a handful to over 7,000 workers (including many women welders), transforming the small town of Sturgeon Bay into a boom town. Two government housing projects provided living quarters for six hundred families and five hundred individual workers, as well as a city bus service was set up to shuttle employees between work and home.

All the ships from the Sturgeon Bay yards were built to fit through the locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Mississippi River. Peterson Boatworks produced thirty-seven motor launches, aircraft rescue vessels and one-hundred-ten-foot-long submarine chasers. Sturgeon Bay Boatworks (now known as the Palmer Johnson company) produced forty-three freight and aircraft rescue boats for the U.S. Army. Sturgeon Bay Shipbuilding & Drydocks produced eighty-five tugs, tenders, and cargo, supply and retrieving vessels. L.D. Smith Shipbuilding produced ninety-three frigates, net tenders, tankers, cargo vessels, and gun boats, including thirty-eight submarine chasers one-hundred-seventy-three-feet-long (known as “PC’s”).

To purchase a copy of this video, contact the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, either by telephone at 920/743-2766 or through their website at http://dcmm.org.

CREDITS: Producer, Molly Hauser Natwick. Writer & Director, Patrick Gary. Executive producers: Jon Gast, Christine Randall, June Larson. Videography: James Parish, Patrick Gary,

Gary Edelburg. Production:
John Thenell, Robert Wolter.
County Martitime Museum.
Galligan, Arnold Geitner, Mike Kelsey, Henry King, George Oram, Gerhard C.F. Miller, Eunice Schlintz, Frank Schneider, Arnold Schwartz, Violet Vieau. Very special thanks to John Enigl, Jim Evans, Betty Krueger, Dorothy Mosgaller, Betty Peterson, Bob Solomon, Don Townsend, Gordon Weber. Editor, Patrick Gary. Editing facilities: Big Creek Productions, a company of Fox Road Communications.

Shawn Erickson, Carl Romey. Historical footage: Mike Kelsey,

Still photography: The W.C. Schroeder Collection, The Door Background information: Jacinda Duffin, Laurie Flanigan, Cleida

  1. Gurda, John. “Profits and Patriotism: Milwaukee Industry in World War II”. Wisconsin Magazine of History. 1994 Autumn; 78(1):24-34.
  2. Loew, Patty. “The Back of the Homefront: Black and American Indian Women in Wisconsin during World War II”. Wisconsin Magazine of History. 1998 Winter-1999 Winter; 82(2):82-103.
    Notes: Based on oral histories conducted between 1992 and 1994 with seven Wisconsin minority women (three Ojibwe and four African-Americans) about their experiences on the homefront during World War II, this article describes how Native-American and African-American women in Wisconsin met the challenges they faced in trying to support their families during the war. While jobs for minority women before the war had generally been restricted to the domestic service sector, during the Second World War some better-paying opportunities did open up for them and Loew carefully discusses those changes. Some factory jobs even became available to minority women in larger cities and Nellie Wilson of Milwaukee, who worked in the A.O. Smith Corporation’s steel factory as a precision inspector during the war, is one of the women featured in this article. Even during the war, however, minority women in rural areas faced an incredibly narrow range of job opportunities; on the Native-American reservations, for instance, often the only work available for paid wages was the seasonal harvesting of crops, such as cranberries, blueberries, and wild rice.
  1. Pifer, Richard L. A City At War: Milwaukee Labor During World War II. Madison, Wis.: Wisconsin Historical Society Press; 2003. 210 p.

    Notes: How Milwaukee workers and their families shared in the homefront efforts to win the war, while continuing to make use of labor relations for the future to come after the war’s conclusion.

  2. —. “A Social History of the Home Front: Milwaukee Labor During World War II”; 1983.
    Notes: Ph.D. thesis, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1983. 515 p. The role of workers and labor unions on the homefront in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during World War II is examined. While labor fully supported the war effort and tried to balance the needs of its movement with the needs of the nation, the author found that workers and their unions fought to maintain their ability to effectively represent their union members in the workplace and in their community and that the traditional techniques of the labor movement continued to be used throughout the duration of the war as a counterbalance to the power of the corporations. For a fuller abstract, see Dissertation Abstracts International, 1984, 45(1): 279-A.
  3. Rees, Jonathan. “Caught in the Middle: The Seizure and Occupation of the Cudahy Brothers Company, 1944-1945”. Wisconsin Magazine of History. 1995 Spring; 78(3):200-218.
    Notes: During World War II, the U.S. federal government played an increased role in the collective bargaining relationship between employers and employees, in order to assure that there were no breaks in production identified as necessary for the war effort. One such intervention involved the Cudahy Brothers Company meatpacking plant in Cudahy, Wisconsin (a small town just south of Milwaukee, Wisconsin) and the United Packinghouse Workers of America Local 40, a union affiliated with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). This interesting article details just one instance of many in which the U.S. government could not rely exclusively on the voluntary compliance of some individual businessowners with the nation’s wartime production policies and found that it had to seize a company in order to ensure continued production essential to the war effort.

    With national labor leaders having made a “no-strike” pledge when the U.S. entered the war, the federal government in return undertook for the duration of the war “a series of government concessions involving organizing and contract enforcement” (p. 205). The Cudahy Brothers Company objected to such protections and from the first resisted the government’s war labor provisions through legal maneuvers. Finally, on December 8, 1944, the U.S. Army (as authorized by the U.S. Secretary of War) took possession of the entire operation of the Cudahy Brothers Company and then continued to oversee the company’s running of the plant until August 31, 1945, just two days before the official surrender of the Japanese. The immediate dispute which led to the government seizure involved two key contract proposals–one for language regarding a maintenance-of-membership agreement and the other for language providing for a dues checkoff system; although these were standard components in the government-supervised agreements during the Second World War, Michael Cudahy, president of the company, refused to sign a contract containing those provisions.

  4. Stevens, Michael E. Women Remember the War, 1941-1945. Madison, Wis.: State Historical Society of Wisconsin; 1993. 157 p. Voices of the Wisconsin Past.
  5. Wilson, Nellie. “Nellie Wilson: A Black Woman Meets the Union”. IN: Holter, Darryl, editor. Workers and Unions in Wisconsin: A Labor History Anthology. Madison, Wis.: State Historical Society of Wisconsin; 1999; pp. 184-185.
    Notes: The on-the-job experiences of a pioneering African-American woman unionist, who was hired during World War II for defense work at the A.O. Smith plant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; the Smith plant was represented by the United Steelworkers of America. Her comments were made at the Wisconsin Labor History Society Conference on April 22, 1989, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  6.  Zieger, Robert H. “Battery Workers at War”. IN: Holter, Darryl. Workers and Unions in Wisconsin: A Labor History Anthology. Madison, Wis.: State Historical Society of Wisconsin; 1999; pp. 169-174. Notes: Excerpted from his book, The Madison Battery Workers, 1934-1952: A History of Federal Labor Union 19587 (Ithaca, N.Y.: New York State School of Industrial & Labor Relations, Cornell University Press, 1977).