On the Swing Shift: Building Liberty Ships in Savannah
During World War II eighty-eight of the almost three thousand Liberty ships built in America were launched in Savannah, Georgia. Without Liberty ships, the Battle of the Atlantic might have been lost. Few remember the Liberty ships today; fewer remember the shipyard or that the Southeastern Shipbuilding Corporation was the largest industry ever located there. The land on which this shipyard stood is now derelict. Thousands drive by it every day and have no idea of the great contribution to the war effort that was made on that site. This social history tells the story of the men and women who built these merchant ships in Savannah. Most came from rural areas and had never seen a ship, much less built one. Many were taken out of high school; others were in their seventies or eighties. The demand for labor found women being recruited for construction jobs in a man's world and performing as well as their fellow male workers. The war also brought African Americans into shipbuilding.