Since You Went Away

World War II Letters from American Women on the Home Front

Judy Barrett Litoff and David C. Smith, eds

"Last night Mel and I were talking about some of the adjustments we'll have to make to our husbands' return. I must admit I'm not exactly the same girl you left-I'm twice as independent as I used to be and to top it off, I sometimes think I've become 'hard as nails'. . . . Also—more and more I've been living exactly as I want to . . . I do as I damn please." [These tough words from the wife of a soldier show that World War Ii changed much more than just international politics.]

“From among 25,000 of an estimated six billion letters sent overseas during World War II, Litoff and Smith have culled and skillfully edited a sampling by 400 American women. These letters, starting with one to a seaman wounded at Pearl Harbor, are compelling documents of home-front life in varied ethnic, cultural, and financial milieus. Tragic, touching, and funny, the correspondence is full of prosaic news and gossip about jobs and neighbors, along with accounts of births and intimate allusions to love-making. The stress of separation was intensified for women whose loved ones were hospitalized, or imprisoned as either conscientious objectors or security risks. Some women wrote General MacArthur and others for news of missing men or to obtain details of their deaths. Many of these heartrending documents also express acceptance-and even pride-in the sacrifices required by war.

—Publishers Weekly

“Other scholars of WW II have published letters written home by servicemen, but this is the first collection sampling the letters written by sisters, sweethearts, wives, and mothers, saved by thousands of servicemen. Chapters are organized around themes that were important to these women: courtship, marriage, motherhood, work, sacrifices. . . . What women tell readers in these letters about their concerns and their wartime feelings will cause historians [readers?] to rethink what has been written about the homefront.

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About the Author

Judy Barrett Litoff is professor of history at Bryant College. David C. Smith is A. A. Bird Professor of History at the University of Maine. Their books include Miss You: The World War II Letters of Barbara Wooddall Taylor and Charles E. Taylor; Dear Boys: World War II Letters from a Woman Back Home; and "We're in this War, Too": World War II Letters from American Women in Uniform.