War II and the Broadening of Opportunities
Plotting upper air maps during
World War II (courtesy National Oceanographic and Atmospheric
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.
(Courtesy Stanley Chagnon and Linda Jo Hascall)
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
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
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)
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.