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Homefront Heroines: The WAVES of World War II's video poster

In this documentary you'll meet some of the 100,000 women who became the hinges of history - by joining the Navy as WAVES during WWII. Read more

Boulder, CO Documentary
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This project was successfully funded on June 29, 2011.

In this documentary you'll meet some of the 100,000 women who became the hinges of history - by joining the Navy as WAVES during WWII.

Boulder, CO Documentary
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Kathleen Ryan
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Kathleen Ryan

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About this project

Update: June 29, 2011

Thank you so much to all of our backers who have helped us reach our goal! We are honored and humbled by this development and so happy that so many of you share the excitement we have for Homefront Heroines!

Even though we have reached our goal, there is still a good deal of additional work to be done on the film. Any extra backing received will go toward post-production costs, including:

  • Digitizing audio interviews held at the Naval Historical center with some of the women who were instrumental in founding and leading the WAVES: Mildred McAfee, Joy Bright Hancock and Louise "Billye" Wilde
  • Digitizing archival film found at the National Archives, Smith College and Mt. Holyoke College for HD broadcast
  • Color correction of the never-before-broadcast 16mm color footage seen in our trailer. We have 1.5 hours of film which we hope to use in the documentary
  • Online video and audio mixing and output for broadcast
  • Digitization as well as rights and clearances for 1940s-era music and the film Here Come the WAVES

Again, thank you for your support!

About the Film

Homefront Heroines follows a group of quirky, individual and determined women who decided to go where no woman had gone before -- into the Navy as WAVES. It tells the story of the more than 100,000 women who joined the Navy during World War II. They were Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES.

The Hinges of History

World War II was the first time the military officially welcomed women into jobs other than nursing; in the Navy, they took stateside positions, freeing men to head to combat overseas. They served for the duration of the war plus six months. After the war was over, the women were expected to happily return home and their old lives. But instead, when the war was over, they returned home, irrevocably changed by the experience. 

The WAVES served in a variety of jobs, from yeomen and storekeepers (Navy parlance for secretaries and bookeepers) to forecasting the weather or sending/translating coded military messages from both the Allies and the enemy. WAVES also trained men in some of the key skills in the Navy: flying the newest aircraft and shooting guns at moving targets from ships and planes. The scuttlebutt in the Navy was the best pilots were the one trained by WAVES.

They may not have realized it at the time, but the WAVES were riding the cusp of the wave of the future. As one woman said, they were the “hinges of history.” The women who served as WAVES would later break the mold of the stereotypical 1950s housewife trapped by the “feminine mystique.” Their experiences laid the groundwork for the social upheavals of the 1960s and ‘70s.

But their story is largely unknown.

Through recorded oral histories, the documentary reveals a hidden history about the "greatest generation" and the women who changed the course of American life.

The Funding Plan

The Kickstarter funding will be used to shoot the last act of the film. We plan to take Margaret Anderson Thorngate (who is telling the story about the USS Missouri in the promotional video on this page) back to the ship, now a floating museum in Hawaii. Ryan and Producer David M. Staton would like to follow Margaret as she returns to the site of her proclamation that the Missouri will be the luckiest ship in the fleet. The film begins with Margaret's memory, and ending with this in-person visit will allow the story to come full circle: from memory to experience.

Can We Go Beyond the Requested Funding Amount?

Of course! Homefront Heroines is currently in post-production, and extra funds will raised will go toward other production components: rights and clearances for archival film and historical music, color correction, audio mixing and other production elements. 

Where Can I Find Out More About the Project?

Please visit our website

The site includes information about the project as well as exhibits helping to explain the experience of the WAVES of World War II.

We're also on Facebook ( and Twitter (@HmefrntHeroines).

Check out our new blog


  • Of course! It can happen one of two ways. You can enter the veteran's name into Amazon during the pledging process after you click "Back this Project." Or, you can let us know when the funding cycle is complete and we'll make sure the donation is listed appropriately.

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  • Yes. We understand that some donors simply want to make sure that the story of the women who served their country during World War II is told. To give anonymously, click on "Back this Project." Then create a new Kickstarter account as "anonymous" or use a pseudonym. Amazon will ask for your personal financial information during the transaction, but that information will not be shared with either Kickstarter users or the creators of this project.

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  • The director and producer interviewed 53 women over the course of five years. Most of the women were Navy WAVES, but some served in the Coast Guard as SPARs; their nickname comes from the Coast Guard motto of Semper Paratus, Always Ready. Six of the WAVES are featured in the documentary (all are featured in the promo) and five others have supporting roles. We are also using archival audio interviews with some of the women instrumental in organizing the WAVES: Captain Mildred MacAfee, Joy Bright Hancock (one of the first WAVE officers), and Louise Billye Wilde (who headed the WAVES publicity efforts and helped set up the women's billets in Hawaii).

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  • You selected
    Pledge $1 or more

    1 backer

    "The Civilian." We'll give you a Twitter shout out for helping the project.

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    6 backers

    "The Recruit." For deciding to "enlist" in "Homefront Heroines, you'll get a thank you on the project website, plus a shout out on Twitter and Facebook. And you'll get a digital access preview code to view the film once it's completed, prior to its broadcast.

  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    22 backers

    "The Seaman." For making it past boot camp, you'll be named as the sponsor of an exhibit page on the "Homefront Heroines" website, plus all of the benefits listed above.

  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    24 backers

    "The Chief Petty Officer." You're making your way up the ranks! You'll get a copy of the "Homefront Heroines" DVD, signed by the producer and director, plus all of the benefits above.

  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    12 backers

    "The Ensign." You've made it through officer training and deserve some rewards. We'll give you a "thank you" in the film credits, a signed copy of "Mother was a Gunner's Mate" by Josette Wingo (who is featured in the film), plus all of the above goodies.

  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    3 backers

    "The Lieutenant." We'll show you some respect, by giving you a signed copy of "Okay, Girls, Man Your Bunks," by Helen Gilbert (who is featured in the film) and a copy of "Making WAVES: The Navy Women of World War II." You'll also be named as the sponsor of an exhibit section on our website, plus all of the other goodies.

  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    3 backers

    "The Commander." As a senior officer, you deserve some special treatment. You'll get a Production Assistance credit in the film, will receive an archival-quality copy of the film's poster, signed by the producer, director and the surviving WAVES featured in the film, and will get all of the above rewards.

  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    2 backers

    "The Captain." Join the WAVES Captain Mildred McAfee in our esteem. You'll get a co-producer credit in the film, plus will received an invitation to a film festival or invitation-only screening nearest you (transportation not included).

  • You selected
    Pledge $5,000 or more

    0 backers

    "The Admiral." Our four-star reward package. You'll get an executive producer credit in the film, a private screening with the producer and director, plus all of the above goodies.

Funding period

- (45 days)