The Walt Disney Company — Alleged Women’s Discriminatory Rejection Letter Surfaces From The Company’s Past

As much as you’d love to think the Walt Disney Company wasn’t a part of such discriminatory practices, an alleged letter has surfaced from the company’s past.

The women’s rights movement has been going since the late 1920’s and is still persevering through certain avenues of feminism. Just months ago, women were granted the ability to join combative departments of United States’ Special Forces units.

However, in this country’s past, it wasn’t so accommodating. The Walt Disney Company allegedly had its share of downfalls in women’s discriminatory practices. Shared by Lost in History, via Twitter, the source tweeted a photo of a supposed rejection letter from 1938, to a “Mary V. Ford” of Searcy, Arkansas.

According to the letter, on June 7, 1938, the Walt Disney Company — then Walt Disney Productions, Ltd. — responded to Ms. Ford’s application to the company’s Inking and Painting training school, as follows.

“Dear Miss Ford:

Your letter of recent date has been received in the Inking and Painting department for reply.

Women do not do any of the creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that work is performed entirely by young men. For this reason, girls are not considered for the training school.

The only work opened to women is tracing the characters on clear celluloid sheets with India ink and filling in the tracings on the reverse side with paint according to directions.

In order to apply for a position as ‘Inker’ or ‘Painter’, it is necessary that one appear at the Studio, bringing samples of pen and ink and water color work. It would not be advisable to come to Hollywood with the above specifically in view [intent], as there are really very few openings in comparison to the number of girls who apply.

Yours very truly,

Walt Disney Productions, Ltd.”

Supposedly, this Walt Disney photo was originally uploaded to Flickr by Kevin Burg. Burg says that this Disney rejection letter belonged to his grandmother. And after she passed away, the family discovered it. In his comment section, many people might have misinterpreted the letter’s signature name as “Mary.”

With that in mind, some commentators have discredited the authenticity of this photo. However, since cursive writing is almost a lost art form, the Walt Disney photo’s defamatory comments could be understandably flawed. From a closer look at the name, it may very-well read “Manny,” Manny Cleave, depending on the signer’s penmanship.

Likewise, another condemning comment was that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released in 1939. However, according to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), it was released in 1937. It was the first, full-length animated picture that the Walt Disney company had created and released. Also, as the most major work of that animated time, it seems that Walt Disney might not have credited everyone who was involved in the movie’s creation. According to the source, none of the people who contributed vocals for minor roles were credited — including all the dwarfs, the prince, the magic mirror, the queen, etc.

The following video is one that elaborates on Walt Disney’s animated process during the aforementioned era.

Of course, Walt Disney isn’t exactly known for the absence of “family fun” and “equal opportunity,” nowadays. However, the United States does have an “unequal” past that is more-than-ever coming back to show its many faces. Walt Disney, during this time, emphasized one of the key points by Mickey Moran — author of 1930’s, America – Feminist Void?, selected by Loyola University’s history department as “Outstanding Paper 1988-’89.”

In Moran’s work, he mentioned that the 1930’s — as shown in the alleged Walt Disney rejection letter — was “devoid of significant gains in the struggle for sexual equality.” So, is the Walt Disney rejection letter a phony? Those were phenomenally unequal times of the past. One cannot judge the photo’s authenticity by today’s standards. Communication standards and rhetoric were different in the 1930’s, and it was definitely less “politically correct.”

All in all, what are your thoughts about the Walt Disney rejection letter? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.

[Photo by Ami Bramme/Associated Press/AP Images]