Back in 1938, women who applied for animation jobs at Disney were destined to receive a visually attractive but ultimately depressing rejection letter like the one below — a missive in which it was advised to instead shoot for a lower star in the tracing department; a place where, it seems, ladies could be trusted with ink.
June 7, 1938
Miss Mary V. Ford
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 open to women consists of tracing the characters on clear celluloid sheets with Indian 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, as there are really very few openings in comparison with the number of girls who apply.
Yours very truly,
WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS, LTD