During World War II, unprecedented employment avenues opened up for
women and minorities in U.S. defense industries at the same time
that massive population shifts and the war challenged Americans to
rethink notions of race. At this extraordinary historical moment,
Mexican American women found new means to exercise control over
their lives in the home, workplace, and nation. In From
Coveralls to Zoot Suits
, Elizabeth R. Escobedo explores how, as
war workers and volunteers, dance hostesses and zoot suiters,
respectable young ladies and rebellious daughters, these young
women used wartime conditions to serve the United States in its
time of need and to pursue their own desires.
But even after the war, as Escobedo shows, Mexican American women
had to continue challenging workplace inequities and confronting
family and communal resistance to their broadening public presence.
Highlighting seldom heard voices of the "Greatest Generation,"
Escobedo examines these contradictions within Mexican families and
their communities, exploring the impact of youth culture, outside
employment, and family relations on the lives of women whose
home-front experiences and everyday life choices would
fundamentally alter the history of a generation.