|Oveta Culp Hobby|
By Debra L. Winegarten
Oveta Culp Hobby and Women’s History Month
by Debra L. Winegarten
National Women’s History Month traces its beginnings to 1978, when the Sonoma County, California’s Commission on the Status of Women’s Education Task Force declared a “Women’s History Week” celebration and scheduled the event to coincide with “International Women’s Day,” March 8th. The idea took root so quickly that by February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued a Presidential Proclamation designating the week of March 8, 1980 as “National Women’s History Week.” By 1987, Congress designated March as National Women’s History Month in perpetuity. 
The first wave of feminism occurred in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with the Seneca Falls, New York Convention in 1848 the rallying event, which launched the modern-day US women’s movement. The second wave of feminism ran from the 1960s to the 1990s, beginning with protests of the Miss American Pageant in the late 1960s. By 1978, the second wave of feminism in the United States was already going full throttle and had moved away from a “middle-class white women’s movement” to one that included women of color and women from developing nations. The third wave of feminism began in the 1990s informed by post-modern and post-colonial thinking. 
While we often know the names of the heroines of the modern-day women’s movement, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug, I’d like to put forward a new name into the mix, one whose accomplishments helped propel women forward during World War II, at a time when the ideal of Rosie the Riveter is known to us, but the name of Oveta Culp Hobby has yet to be writ large in the books of women’s history.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt instituted the first peacetime draft by signing into law the “Selective Service and Training Act on September 16, 1940.  This action set in motion an unexpected flurry of activity when the first male soldiers were conscripted in the fall of that year. “The War Department started receiving thousands of letters a day from women all over the country, wanting to know what, exactly, the government would be doing with their sons and brothers who were being forced into military service.”
The White House was ill-prepared to respond to this sea of inquiry, and started the Women’s Interest Section of the War Department’s Bureau of Public Relations to answer these letters. Oveta Culp Hobby, who, with her husband, the former Governor Will Hobby of Texas, was in Washington, D.C. at this time. The Hobbys owned and ran The Houston Post in addition to other local media interests. They were attending a meeting of the Federal Communications Commission regarding one of their Houston radio stations. General Surles met Oveta and asked her to run the Women’s Interest Section for the Army.