The United Service Ogranizations (USO) was established in 1941 with President Roosevelt as honorary chair. The USO united six well established civilian service organizations, in order to, as Roosevelt put it, “handle the on-leave recreation of the men in the armed forces.”
Women made up most of the USO volunteers, serving food and drinks, mending and ironing, dancing, listening and “lifting spirits” in the USO clubs stateside. Women volunteered every spare day, evening, and hour they could, because it was the patriotic thing to do.
Married women were the senior hostesses, performing “motherly” tasks, while the single women were the hostesses: chaste dates for the servicemen. Hostesses were not supposed to get emotionally or physically invoiced with the servicemen. But while the conduct of hostesses was physically respectable by the USO standards, many found their future husbands at USO dances.
Volunteers could also make a commitment for overseas duty, starting and running clubs abroad. In 1941 the USO also began organizing “entertainment troops,” who performed “camp shows” at 640 bases, hospitals, and outposts around the world.