Case Study Women in the Second World War


CaseStudy: Women in the Second World War


CaseStudy: Women in the Second World War

Inthis case study, I will be comparing and contrasting the efforts ofThereseBonney, Toni Frissell, and Esther Bubley during WWII.

Thefirst similarity among all the three women is that they all usedphotography as a medium to touch millions of viewers in the US andabroad. Whereas Frissell and Bonney were older and viewed wartimephotography as a way of proving a point to themselves and to thepublic, Bubley was mostly interested in proving herself to Strykerwho attracted many young people to work for him because of hisprevious works. Bubley and Frissell both worked under the supervisionof their employers, that is, Stryker and the Red Cross respectively.Frissell wanted to prove to herself that she could do some realreporting work, and she believed that by doing so, she would end upin the “hard news” of the war front as opposed to the “softnews” of fashion industry she was in at the time. She tookadvantage of her connection to high-profile society matrons toaggressively pursue assignments that related directly to war. Bonney,on the other hand, was a lone worker. At the time the war broke out,she was in France in an attempt to promote cultural exchange betweenFrance and the US. Lastly, Bubley was fresh out of art school and hadarrived in Washington shortly afterwards with the aim of earning aliving through her camera. It is clear that all three had greatexperience with the camera prior to their assignments in WWII. Theyused their experience and expertise to convince someone back at homeand abroad (Pappachan,n.d Library of Congress, n.d).

Bonneyfocused her photography on the civilian population, capturinghomeless children and adults on the backroads of Europe. She was moreinterested in making people understand what war brought to thesociety, and if possible prepare for it. She focused on the effectsof war, and the total number of negatives she took amounted to 25,000. The negatives make up a record of WWII that is almost unknown.The photographs were later made into a book called Europe’sChildren. People believed in Bonney and her work so much, that acomic book was made basing on her life. An award-winning film wasalso made basing on her story. Some of the awards the movie woninclude Oscar, UN Award, Best writing, and The Juvenile Award(Pappachan,n.d Library of Congress, n.d).

Inher initial efforts in the war, Bonney focused on the Russian-Finnishfront and was granted the “Order of the White Rose of Finland”medal of bravery for her efforts. Her photos of children were takenon the move as she travelled through Western Europe. Some of thephotos are in major museums in the US and France. Unlike Bonney,Frissell’s photography had a wider scope. First, she served underthe American Red Cross before working for the Eighth Army Air Forceand later Women’s Army Corps as the Corps’ official photographer.She captured images of front-line soldiers, African-American airmen,orphaned children, WACs, and nurses. In essence, Bonney’s focus wasa sub-category in Frissell’s work. This is because instead offocusing on the effects of wars alone, as Bonney did, Frissell wentfurther to photograph first-line soldiers. However, the twophotographers have something common in their photography because theyboth went to the war fronts. Bonney, like Frissell, went to the fronton the Russian-Finnish front. However, unlike Bonney who stoppedworking on the front and focused on the backroads and locations wherethe war had already taken place later on in her efforts, Frissellremained active on the forefront at all times. Whereas both Bonneyand Frissell travelled abroad and documented their stories from othercountries, Bubley was solely at home in the US, where she documentedthe homefront. Her efforts were mainly focused on the hardships thatpeople and soldiers back in the US suffered as the country mobilizedfor war. She worked in Washington most of her time, as she movedaround the capital taking photos of buildings and soldiers. On one ofher assignments, she went on a road trip to photograph the situation,which was worsening due to gas rationing. Her work was mainly viewedat home unlike Bonney’s, which was viewed in both the US and Franceat the time of war. The three women both produced thousands of photosof WWII (Pappachan,n.d Library of Congress, n.d).


Libraryof Congress. Women Come to the Front. Retrieved 20/7/15 from

Pappachan,Jasmin. (n.d). Women in the Second World War. Retrieved20/7/15 from