That's How They Rolled - Women Bowlers and Their Impact on World War II: The Fascinating But Largely Unknown Story of the Wings of Mercy Campaign


When examining the history of sports, we see how it mirrors the social revolutions of the United States. For several generations, just as in other aspects of society–women were not welcome, diverse people were not welcome. But sports has a way of breaking certain barriers and helping to unite communities. The Women’s International Bowling Congress was a pivotal organization that had a profound impact on not only women’s participation in the sport of bowling, but also their contribution to the war effort. This paper details the fascinating story of how women bowlers across America used their creativity and community connections to raise millions of dollars to save the lives of thousands of soldiers during World War II. Though everyone knows about efforts on the homefront from Rosie the Riveter, it’s time they also know about Bonnie the Bowler.


Roxanne Owens
Chair and Associate Professor, College of Education, Department of Teacher Education, Exercise Science, and Kinesiology, DePaul University, Illinois, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Gender Equity and Policy


Bowling, History, Women