History 1940-1959


World War II dominated this decade! During the war, an aggressive media campaign was responsible for adding more than 6 million women into the workforce. Women learned many new skills in industrial jobs; for example, jobs in steel plants, shipyards, and lumber mills. With the end of the war, most of these jobs returned to men. Women were encouraged to return to the home or to find “female” jobs.

• Using the Suffragist playbook, women continued to create a group with specific emphasis to address specific issues.
• The Women’s Army Corps (WACS) and Women Volunteer Emergency Service
(WAVES) were established and Congress authorizes women to serve in the US
• The All American Girls Professional Basketball League is founded, high jumper Alice Coachman is the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal, Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias, and a group of other women created the Ladies Professional Golf Tour.
• Eleanor Roosevelt is appointed as a US delegate to the newly established United Nations.

The Zonta Club of St. Louis continued to advocate for women to receive the best education possible. The 1939 Career Symposium was so enthusiastically received that a series of five additional symposiums were held during the 1940s. These sessions received wide acclaim from educational directors, parents, and students. The Zonta Club of St. Louis continued to support other community organizations. Civic activities supported during this time included the St. Louis Symphony, the Civic Music League, and the Zonta Club of St. Louis became a guarantor of the Municipal Opera. Upon entry of the United States into World War II, the club continued the work at hand by working with the United Service Organization (USO). Service projects were geared toward helping and entertaining our servicemen. Service projects included:
• A Little Theater Party with 25 soldiers and sailors as guests.
• Donations to the Red Cross.
• Donations of books to the Victory Book Drive.
• Funds donated to The Women’s Allied Relief Fund, the USO, and the Salvation Army.
• Three ping pong tables were given to the American Red Cross Camp.
• A room was equipped for the Medical Detachment at Jefferson Barracks.
• The club entertained servicemen and women on every holiday.
• Every fourth Sunday of the month, Zonta club members served breakfast at the USO.
• In 1942, during Women at Work Week, the club sold $31,540 war bonds winning a $100 War Bond for its achievement and a certificate from the Coast Guard.
• As the war went on the sales of bonds mounted to $336,575 (1943) and in 1944 the club won honors with total sales of $653,000.
• At war’s end stamps were collected for the wounded to cheer hospitalized veterans giving them a hobby while recovering.
• To help war-torn countries, food was sent directly to the Zonta clubs of Denmark. Eight hundred pounds of clothing was contributed to “Fill Zonta’s Boat for Europe” that set sail to Poland, Finland, England, and Germany. The Philippines also received clothing. Funds were given to the American Fund for Czechoslovakia Refugees.
• Local contributions were made to the Salvation Army Building Fund, the March of Dimes, St. Stephen’s House, the Red Cross, the City Sanitarium, and the Cancer Fund.
• In 1946, the Zonta Club of St. Louis established a scholarship fund at Washington University in St. Louis. The scholarship fund was fully funded in 1950.


The 1950s are a “somnolent time’- a slightly boring decade characterized by tract houses, tailfins, and students so docile they were dubbed the “silent generation”. The decade also transformed the country, spreading it out to suburbia, knitting it together with television, and creating the first consumer society. But there were ripples of things to come: skirmishes on the civil rights front and a little war in a corner of Southeast Asia called Vietnam. It also saw clashes between communism and capitalism. Elvis Presley became the leading figure of the newly popular sound of rock and roll. American folk music revival became a phenomenon in the United States and it was the Golden Age of Television. The 1950s saw the height of the baby boom years and women were expected to stay at home as housewives and mothers. These changing expectations decreased the enrollment of women in colleges. The judicial revolution led by Chief Justice Earl Warren struck down the principle of separate but equal schools. President Eisenhower sent troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to enforce the desegregation order. Women continued to break barriers:
• Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man.
• Jacqueline Cochran becomes the first woman to break the sound barrier.
• Althea Gibson is the first African American to win the All England title in tennis at

The Zonta Club of St. Louis continued to serve the community through service and
• In the 1950s the Zonta Club was concerned with the plight of the children of Greece. Queen Frederika of Greece, who was touring the United States, was invited to the club’s International Night. Although she was unable to attend she sent her emissaries Madame Vassill Dendramis, wife of the Greek Ambassador, as a speaker, and Mrs. George Warsam, wife of the first Secretary of the Royal Greek Embassy. Dr. George Mylonas of Washington University was toastmaster, and the music was furnished by the choir of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church.
Elaborate displays of exquisite icons, silver, jewelry, and priceless handiwork were exhibited. The proceeds were given to the Children’s Cities of Greece. The club received a letter of appreciation from Queen Frederika.
• In 1951 funds were raised for the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) to use to refurnish a room to be known as the Zonta room and could be used for club meetings and housing the club’s permanent files.
• The Salvation Army continued to be of interest to the club. Each year the club,
beginning in 1952 to the present has ringed bells for the Tree of Lights Campaign and has received several awards from them.
• The Malcolm Bliss Psychopathic Hospital became its ongoing service project (1956). The project included furnishing a recreation room with canteen facilities; assisted in the funding of an Occupational Therapy Department for the benefit of the mental patients. The club assisted in converting part of the Hospital basement into an Indoor Recreation Area purchased equipment for the area and furnished a Snack Bar adjoining the area.
• The club recommended that all members participate in some personal service in Zonta’s name. The club was divided into two groups and each participated in a different kind of service. Some of these projects included hats for the women at the Little Sisters of the Poor, baskets with miscellaneous items for Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, clothing for an orphanage, babysitting, and visiting lonely hospital patients were a few of the endeavors club members participated in.