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Women 20 to 36, Earn a Navy Rating - Join the Waves

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    United States (made)

  • Date:

    13/09/1943 (dated)

  • Artist/Maker:

    U.S. Navy (issued by)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Colour lithograph

  • Credit Line:

    Gift of the American Friends of the V&A; Gift to the American Friends by Leslie, Judith and Gabri Schreyer and Alice Schreyer Batko

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case 3G, shelf DR1

This poster is an appeal to American women for Navy recruitment during World War II. Posters such as this sought to reassure society that women would not lose their femininity by putting on a uniform. They maintained some stylistic continuity with familiar commerical images of women. This reinforced the government's stance that wartime occupations were temporary and would not fundamentally change women's traditional roles. In this poster, the female Waves recruit is seen actively benefitting the war effort in her role as an air traffic controller. This image would have helped to send the message that women had valuable skills to contribute and would be given important responsibilities.

Physical description

US World War II poster produced to encourage women to join the women's section of the United States Naval Reserve (the WAVES). In the upper right corner of the poster is the head and shoulders of a US Naval servicewoman; her jacket and tie are visible, and she has reddish-brown hair, and wears a hat with the words, 'U.S. NAVY', on the hat-band. She smiles and looks out towards the viewer. To the left of this image are the words, 'Women 20 to 30', in black italics, and below this, in red sans-serif lettering, 'Earn a Navy Rating', and in black type, below the text and the image, 'Based on Navy /training and your Own Ability and /experience Same Grades - Same Pay - As For Men'.

Below this is a chart depicting different insignia and badges, headed, 'Steps in advancement'. The chart shows the insignia of a Petty Officer, third class, second class, first class, and Chief Petty Officer. 'The Speciality marks - Worn by the WAVES', are pictured below, and include those for an 'Aerographers Mate', an 'Aviation Machinist's Mate', an 'Aviation Metalsmith', a 'Baker-Cook', a 'Parachute Rigger', a 'Pharmacist's Mate', a 'Radioman Telegrapher', a 'Specialist I-Punched Card Tabulating Machine Operator', a 'Specialist M Mail Clerk', a 'Specialist P Photographer', a 'Specialist R Recruiter', a 'Specialist S Supervisor', 'Specialist T-Instructors' and 'Control Tower Operators', a 'Specialist U Housekeeper-Stewardess', 'Storekeeper', and a 'Yeoman'.

Below the chart is the slogan, 'Join the WAVES', in red letters, and below this, printed in black, 'Apply to your nearest Navy Recruiting Station or Office of Naval Officer Procurement'.

Place of Origin

United States (made)


13/09/1943 (dated)


U.S. Navy (issued by)

Materials and Techniques

Colour lithograph

Marks and inscriptions

'Women 20 to 30'
To the left of the image, upper left corner of the poster, in black italics

To the left of the image, upper left corner of the poster, in red sans-serif lettering

'Based on Navy /training and your Own Ability and Experience / Same Grades - Same Pay - As For Men'.
Centred, below image, centred, in black type

'STEPS IN ADVANCEMENT / (For Radioman, illustrated, or other specialities)'. Printed onto a diagram representing a note, the words 'Apprentice / Seaman / Seaman / 2nd Class / Seaman / 1st Class', and below the 'note', 'Seaman'. Illustrations of insignia with text identifying each below: 'Petty Officer Third Class Petty Officer Second Class Petty Officer First Class Chief Petty Officer' / 'PAY - $50 TO $126 A MONTH CLEAR - FREE UNIFORMS / Allowances for Food and Living Quarters - A Wonderful Opportunity to Serve Your Country / SPECIALITY MARKS WORN BY THE WAVES { OTHER SPECIALISTS ARE OPEN / TO WOMEN WHO QUALIFY'. Specialist badges illustrated in three rows, with text identifying each below each image: 'Aerographers Mate' 'Aviation Machinist's Mate' 'Aviation Metalsmith' 'Baker-Cook' / 'Parachute Rigger' 'Pharmacist's Mate' 'Radioman / Telegrapher', 'Specialist I-Punched Card / Tabulating Machine Operator' 'Specialist M / Mail Clerk' 'Specialist P / Photographer' 'Specialist R / Recruiter' / 'Specialist S / Supervisor' 'Specialist T-Instructors / and Control Tower Operators' 'Specialist U / Housekeeper-Stewardess' 'Storekeeper' 'Yeoman'.
Shield-shaped chart, shaded grey, illustrating different insignia and badges. Text black (except for the text, 'Speciality marks - worn by the WAVES', which is red), badges and insignia colred navy blue, white and red.

Below the chart, in red letters

Lower edge of printed area, in black text

'ORDER NO. 43'
Order number, lower right edge of poster, printed in black in the margin

'NAVPERS - NRB - 38497 - 13 Sep 23 - 40M'
Printing information, lower left edge of poster, printed in black in the margin


Height: 106.7 cm, Width: 71.3 cm

Descriptive line

"Women 20 to 36, Earn a Navy Rating - Join the Waves", World War II poster for recruiting women into the U.S. Naval Reserve, issued by the U.S. Navy, United States, 1943


Paper; Ink

Subjects depicted

Insignia; Chevrons; Recruiting; Badges; Seamen; Eagles; Recruitment; War; Women; Wings; Propaganda; Lightning; Uniforms


Prints; Propaganda; Posters


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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