Profiles By: Samantha Miller
During the 1960s, the American government began a project to combat poverty, increase job opportunities, and bolster the economy. In Omaha, this national movement concretized, at least in one way, in the development the Omaha Women’s Job Corp. Center, which provided women with vocational and career training.
Under President Lyndon B. Johnson, the government began the War on Poverty in 1964. During the following years, the federal government “created a new institutional base for antipoverty and civil rights action and, in the process, highlighted growing racial and ideological tensions in American politics and society” (Germany 1). The ambitious project was to help impede the crippling effects of poverty on American citizens. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 provided the basis for the Job Corps program, as well as “the college Work-Study program, Neighborhood Development Centers, small business loan programs, rural programs, migrant worker programs, remedial education projects, local health care centers, and others” (Germany 1). These programs all worked toward developing under-resourced areas within U.S. cities nationwide.
In Omaha, Nebraska, the massive government project led to the development of the Omaha Women’s Job Corp. Center. The Center was a vocational school, meant to give opportunities to young women, ages 16–21. Many women also went to the center to receive GEDs. Most recruits had already finished high school, however, and the purpose of the Center was to bring these women out of their home environments and take them to a place where they could concentrate on skills for improvement and employment. Courses ranged from Interior Design to Cosmetology to even key punching data cards since it was the early era of computers (Mudd).
This Job Corp. opened on June 7, 1965 with 365 women in the Regis Hotel in downtown Omaha and soon expanded to over 900 women at the Paxton Hotel. Women moved into the buildings and were