World War II and the Broadening of Opportunities
Plotting upper air maps during World War II (courtesy National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration)

   As World War II escalated and hundreds of thousands of men were sent overseas to fight, opportunities for those traditionally not employable, like women and minorities, opened. Due to severe shortages of skilled meteorologists, especially in the Armed Forces, a relatively large number of women entered the atmospheric sciences. At the end of the War, the influx of men back from active duty closed those opportunities, and most of the women returned to their lives as wives and mothers. A few, however, continued with a career in meteorology.
   Opportunities for minorities also improved slightly during World War II, even though most of the U.S., including the Armed Forces, were strictly segregated. The most highly-distinguished of the minorities who began their meteorological careers at the time is Charles E. Anderson (1919-1994), who was a weather officer for the Tuskegee Airmen Regiment. In his honor, the American Meteorological Society will present the first Charles Anderson Award at the current Annual Meeting.

Bernice Ackerman
(Courtesy Stanley Chagnon and Linda Jo Hascall)

Bernice Ackerman (1928-1995)
   Bernice Ackerman was one of the most important woman meteorologist of the last half of the 20th Century. She started her career as a weather observer and flight briefer for the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). After the war, she earned a B.S. in Meteorology at the University of Chicago with a minor in mathematics in 1948, and went to work for the U.S. Weather Bureau, taking part in the Thunderstorm Project (1948). She did research on extended-range forecasting and on tornadoes, and also worked as a hydrologist and river forecaster in Kansas City.
   She began work as a researcher in the Cloud Physics Laboratory, where she remained until 1968. She received her M.S. in Meteorology in 1955, and then a Ph.D. in 1965, spe-cializing in cloud physics, both from the University of Chicago. She was Assistant Pro-fessor of Meteorology at the University 1965-1967, and taught synoptic, physical, and boundary layer meteorology and cloud physics. She joined the faculty ofTexas A&M University as associate professor of Meteorology (1967-1970), and then became associate meteorologist in the Atmospheric Sciences Section of the Argonne National Laboratory (1970-1972). She worked at the Illinois State Water Survey (1972-1989) eventually attaining the rank of principal scientist. Her work involved weather modification, urban climate, radar meteorology, and insects.
    Among her other duties, she served on the AMS Council, the AMS Council Executive Committee, the AMS Committee on Atmospheric Measurements, the AMS Committee on Cloud Physics, and the AMS Committee on Weather Modification. She was Secretary of Section W of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an AMS Fellow, an AAAS Fellow. She is remembered as a mentor to numerous graduate and undergraduate students and staff meteorologists. She died 5 July 1995.
Readying a weather balloon for launch during World War II (courtesy National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration)

Kathleen Eleanor Thornton (1913-1966)
    Kathleen Eleanor Thornton achieved a B.A. in Physics from Tulane University in 1934, and then did graduate work at the University of North Carolina. She worked at the Department of the Army in Fort Monmouth, NJ, (1942-1952) as a physicist specializing in the development of humidity sensors. She later worked at the American Instrument Com-pany (1952-1956) in Silver Spring, MD, and then as a science teacher in the Lake Charles, LA, schools (1956-1966). She died 17 December 1966.

E. Ruth Anderson (1907-1989)

    Ruth Anderson really had two careers, one in meteorology, and another in music. After graduating high school in Boston, she studied at the New England Conservatory of Music majoring in violin. Upon graduation, she moved to Scituate, MA, where she performed, taught privately, and was a soloist at her Unitarian Church.
    She joined the Navy Waves during World War II, and was trained at the Navy Aerographers School in Lakehurst, NJ. She was assigned first to a Naval Air Station in Indiana and then to the DC Naval Intelligence Unit. She continued with that unit after the war, and worked for a time in the United Kingdom.
    In 1952, she joined the staff of the American Meteorological Society, where she served as News Editor of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society for twenty years.
    During that time, she wrote a history of the building in which the AMS is housed in Boston. During these years, she also compiled and wrote Contemporary American Composers: A Biographical Dictionary, published in 1977 with a second edition in 1982. This was con-sidered the most complete work on modern American composers of the era.
    She died 24 November, 1989, at her home on the southern shore of Massachusetts.
Releasing a weather balloon during World War II (courtesy National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration)

Jacqueline Wonsetler (1918-1974)

    Jacqueline Wonsetler first became interested in meteorology while serving in the Navy during World War II. After the war, she took a number of meteorology correspondence courses from Pennsylvania State University while working as an observer at the Weather Bureau Forecast Center in Los Angeles (1945-1955). She later worked at the Weather Bureau Office in Salem, OR (1955-1963), where she earned the Department of Commerce Outstanding Accomplishment Award for work in the development of service and briefing methods for transcontinental air races. She later transferred to the Weather Bureau Office in Flagstaff, AZ (1963-1973), and died on 1 December, 1974.

Hazel Tatro (1920-1974)

    Hazel Tatro was the first woman Meteorologist in Charge (MIC) of a U.S. Weather Bureau Office. She received her initial training in meteorology while serv-ing in the WAVES during World War II. She worked for the Weather Bureau from 1945 until her death. She achieved a B.S. in Meteorology from Florida State Uni-versity on a Weather Bureau scholarship. She initially worked at the Weather Bureau Airport Station in Columbia, SC, and then at the Airport Station in Winston-Salem, NC, where she became MIC in 1964. She was working at the Weather Bureau Office in Blountstown, TN, at the time of her death.
Using theodolite during World War II (courtesy National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration)

Marjorie Lorraine Simonton (1923-1966)
   Like many of the women who worked in meteorology during World War II, Marjorie Lor-raine Simonton pursued a career in the Weather Bureau. She was a rawinsonde specialist at the Great Falls, MT, Weather Bureau Office until her death on 20 August 1966.

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