Virginia Grover Bulkeley, a native of Boston, Massachusetts, moved to Hartford in 1930 and lived here for the rest of her life. During World War II Mrs. Bulkeley served as the Greater Hartford chairwoman of the Women’s Organization for War Savings (WOWS). Her scrapbooks, dating between October 1942 and October 1945, chronicle the efforts of Hartford area citizens to sell war savings bonds and stamps. The articles are from the Hartford Courant and the Hartford Times. All are labeled with the name of the newspaper and the date.
The scrapbooks highlight the many women’s organizations that participated in the sale of bonds. Women of the B’Nai Brith Auxiliary, Negro Mothers and Homemakers Club, Colonial Dames of America, Polish Junior League, Italian Ladies Welfare Auxiliary, Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and many other groups covered the pages of the newspapers with the results of their fundraising initiatives. Americans of all ages, religious affiliations, and ancestries were encouraged to support the war effort with bond and stamp purchases. Articles also tell of the participation of Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and high school groups. A group of girls at Weaver High School were shown making war stamp corsages for one of their dances.
Hartford retailers, particularly department stores G. Fox and Sage-Allen, actively supported the war effort and the seven bond selling campaigns. Their advertisements included in the scrapbooks routinely had war themes. In November 1942 Sage-Allen participated in Women-at-War Week with advertisements inviting women to come meet WAACs (Women’s Auxiliary Army Corp) or sign up to be a WAAC. G. Fox appealed to shoppers to begin their 1943 Christmas shopping by buying war stamp corsages. Sage-Allen also advocated the sale of Bonds for Babies.
Many speakers and performers came to Hartford to encourage bond sales. Among those who came were First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, musician Glenn Miller and his Air Force band, and celebrities Elsa Maxwell, Kitty Carlisle, and Constance Bennett. Free tickets for the events were given to those who bought bonds.
Free tickets were among the many incentives available to Hartford area residents at various times. The owner of the LaSalle Diner on Albany Ave. offered free lunches to purchasers. One day in April 1943 purchasers were treated to a Jeep ride if they bought their stamps and bonds at the Victory House (on Main Street in front of the Old State House). A year later Sage-Allen even auctioned off a puppy! Over 20,000 people came into the city center in May 1943 and spent $250,000 on bonds and stamps. Their incentive was viewing a Japanese submarine captured at Pearl Harbor. For that event Bulkeley even included photographs.
The scrapbook paper has become very brittle over the years, but all three volumes contain a wealth of information about the war savings efforts. The collection is open for research. Come visit!