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Totsye Harper Winslow collection on the Curtiss-Wright Cadettes

 Collection — Box: Box 1
Identifier: MSA 195

Scope and Contents

The Totsye Harper Winslow papers on the Curtis-Wright Cadettes (1943-1997; 0.25 cubic feet) documents role and history of the Curtis-Wright Cadettes at Purdue and in the Curtis-Wright Corporation during World War II.  Photographs, newsletter, and clippings document their time at Purdue as well as the Engineering Cadette Program.  Programs, newsletters, and papers document local and national reunions of the cadettes, as well as their history.  Also included is information on the individual members of the Purdue Cadette classes.  The collection is mostly representative of the Purdue Cadettes, with very little information on the women who graduated from Curtiss-Wright Programs at other Universities.  This collection would be useful tor researchers interested in women in science, the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, World War II production, and the role of women in the war effort.  Types of materials include: photographs, programs, newsletters, and papers.


  • 1943 - 1995
  • Other: Date acquired: 11/04/2008


Language of Materials

Collection material is in English.

Access Information

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Copyright held by Purdue University or original creator. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

historical information

After the entry of the United States into World War II, the Curtis-Wright Corporation, a leading producer of planes for the war effort, experienced extreme labor shortages as increasing numbers of men were recruited for military efforts.  In an effort to alleviate these shortages and keep up with production demands, the aeronautics corporation proposed the creation of a training program for women who were mathematically inclined or whom had previously demonstrated proficiency in science.  The program was to be an extremely abbreviated introduction to aeronautical engineering that would prepare the women for entry level positions with Curtiss-Wright so that men currently employed by the company could be promoted to more advanced positions.  The Caddette program was similar to, but much less known than, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), the United States Coast Guard Reserve (SPARS), and the Rosie the Riveter/ Wanda the Welder campaigns. The Engineering Cadette Program was started in 1943 at seven universities: Purdue University, Cornell, Pennsylvania State University, University of Minnesota, Iowa State University, Rensselear University, and University of Texas.  During their time in the program, the women’s educational and lodging costs were covered by Curtiss-Wright, and they received a $10 per week stipend.  Classes were rigorous, with the women expected to dedicate a minimum of 50 hours per week to classes and study.  The graduates of 1943 completed two and a half years of engineering curriculum in ten months, with subsequent graduating classes completing the work in even less time.  Upon completion of the program, the women were assigned positions in one of five Curtiss-Wright facilities in the country, with varying roles and responsibilities.  Once the war was over, the majority of the women were replaced by returning male soldiers, and it does not appear that the Curtiss-Wright Corporation kept is promise of additional funding for them to complete their engineering degrees.  Many women did, however, subsequently complete degrees at universities nationwide and went on to various careers and roles within their respective communities.


0.226 Cubic Feet (One legal-size half-width manuscript box)

Source of Acquisition

Gift of Robert and Totsye Winslow, 2008

Method of Acquisition


Related Materials

Iowa State University Department of Military Science Curtiss-Wright Engineering Cadettes Program Records, RS 13/16/4, Archives of Women in Science and Engineering, Iowa State University Library.
Curtiss-Wright Cadettes Records, RS 13/16/1, Iowa State University Library.
Jean Nickerson Patterson Curtis-Wright Engineering Cadette Records, RS 21/7/148, Iowa State University.

Related Publications

Grandt, AF, Jr. et al.  One Small Step: The History of Aerospace Engineering at Purdue University.  West Lafayette: School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue University (2010). Lenthe, Jean-Vi.  Flying into Yesterday: My Search for the Curtiss-Wright Aeronautical Engineering Cadettes. El Prado: Wild Hare Press (2011).

Processing Information

Whenever possible, original order of the materials has been retained.  All materials have been placed in archival housing.
Totsye Harper Winslow collection on the Curtiss-Wright Cadettes
Virginia Pleasant
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Second Edition.

Revision Statements

  • 2020-03-31: Collection description updated by Keertana Marella

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States