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War Bride Schools of the 1950s

While the U.S. occupied Japan after World War II, between 30,000 and 50,000 American GIs married Japanese women. To prepare these brides for life in the US, the American Red Cross opened "bride schools" starting in 1951 to teach them what they would need to know to fit in as an American housewife.   

The instructors were usually American wives of stationed military men. Their lessons covered cooking, baby care, etiquette, and everything in between—but despite the educational intentions, the schools took on an unmistakably patronizing tone. “The war bride schools are a great vehicle for neatly encapsulating what we thought of ourselves as Americans at that time and place,” says Lucy Craft, a co-director of the documentary Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides. “We won the war and decided that not only had we won the war, but that everything about us was superior to every other civilization, particularly the people who lost the war.”

While a minority of Japanese brides took the classes, those who did became very familiar with tuna casserole and eyeliner. Read about those bride schools, which were later reproduced in other countries, at Atlas Obscura.

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