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LuminUS: Stories About Us

The Women Who Helped Win a War

During World War II, as men were called up for duty, women took their places on the factory production line. In Akron, Ohio, women helped to produce more than 4,000 Corsair aircraft. THE WOMEN WHO HELPED WIN A WAR features three young women who were part of the 19 million females in the labor force at the height of the war.

Produced by Steve Mitchell, a retired educator and volunteer at MAPS Air Museum, this half-hour production features Edith White Franks, originally from South Charleston, W.V.; Helen Farley Argenio, an East Liverpool, Ohio, native; and Oma Kline Porter, originally from Steubenville, Ohio.

These women faced many hardships as they transplanted themselves to Akron. For example, men and women were not given equal pay for equal work. Helen Argenio recalled that she and another young man did the exact same job and yet he was paid one dollar an hour compared to her 85 cents.

At the beginning of the war, housing was in short supply. Workers had to rent any place they could find a bed. According to Edith Franks, if somebody had a shed, as long as it was habitable it could be rented. Almost half a million people migrated from rural areas to the cities of Ohio and it took awhile for the housing market to catch up with the population.

All three women were interviewed at MAPS Air Museum in North Canton. In support of this production, MAPS has developed educational materials for eighth grade social studies and high school world and American history classes. The educational materials are available on the MAPS website,

Helen Argenio and Oma Porter have passed away since being interviewed in 2005. Edith Franks, at 96, is a member of MAPS and visits as often as she can. During their interviews the women enjoyed telling stories of patriotism, the airdock, Corsairs, rivet guns, shoes, pants, coveralls and movie stars. They were profoundly proud to have contributed to the war effort and to have been part of a giant step forward for the expanding role of women in American society.


Premiered on PBS Western Reserve, April 2018.