By David Langbart
One never knows what will be found in the files. While undertaking holdings maintenance on some records, the document described here appeared.
In September 1945, just after the formal end of World War II, the British embassy in Washington sent a diplomatic note to the Department of State requesting some information. In Britain, the Committee of the Civil Service National Whitley Council had some questions and the embassy asked that the information be obtained “from the appropriate United States authorities.” The Committee was examining the question of the marriage bar in the British civil service and had five questions about U.S. practice:
1. Are married women employed (in normal conditions and not merely in war-time) either regularly or exceptionally in the public services of the United States?
2. If the normal rules forbid the employment of married women, is there any provision for exceptions, and if so in what terms?
3. If married women are employed, what advantages and disadvantages have they been found to possess as employees?
4. Is there any system of paying gratuities or “dowries” to women who resign on marriage, compulsorily or voluntarily, as the case may be?
5. If married women are employed in normal conditions and not merely in war-time, what arrangements are made for leave of absence for childbirth?
To secure the needed information, the Department of State sent a copy of the British request to the Civil Service Commission. The Commission replied as follows:
Upon receipt, the Department provided a copy of the Commission’s response to the British embassy, which expressed its appreciation. That sentiment was passed on to the Commission.
Source: British Embassy to the Department of State, September 4, 1945; Department of State to the Civil Service Commission, September 10, 1945; Civil Service Commission to the Department of State, September 21, 1945; Department of State to the British Embassy, September 25, 1945; British Embassy to the Department of State, October 1, 1945; Department of State to the Civil Service Commission, October 12, 1945. All documents in file 811.017 in the 1945-49 segment of the Central Decimal File (NAID 302021), part of RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.