World War II Rationing on the Homefront

World War II Rationing on the Homefront

To ensure that there is enough food available to reach U.S. Paul M. O'Leary of the Office of Price Administration carries on a "conversation" with a housewife and grocer in a December 12 radio broadcast.


Genealogists are always in search of new record sources when confronted with a brick wall. Well, can you think of a resource that not only gives you name, address, age and occupation, but also height and weight of a person? Interestingly, the ration books issued during World War Two attempted to capture* these items.

In the United States, nationwide food rationing was instituted in the spring of 1942, and each member of the family was issued ration books by the Office of Price Administration (OPA). These books contained stamps and gave precise details of the amounts of certain types of food that you were allowed. Rationing insured that each person could get their fair share of the items that were in short supply due to the war effort and import reductions. By the end of the war, over a hundred million of each ration book were printed.

The Office of Price Administration (OPA) was in charge of rationing consumer goods such as sugar, coffee, shoes, household appliances, and other goods during World War II. The OPA accepted ration book applications and issued ration books, from which consumers tore out stamps in order to purchase food and other supplies at grocery stores.

Four different series of war ration books were issued. In 1942, five months after (December 8, 1941) the United States entered the Second World War, "Book One" series were issued. In January 1943, "Book Two" series were issued. "Book Three" series were issued in October of 1943. And "Book Four" series were issued towards the end of 1943. Most ration restrictions didn't end until August 1945, with sugar rationing lasting in some parts of the country until 1947.

*Each book asked for different identification, with book one and three asking the most detailed information. In all the ration books that we've seen, however, the completion of the form was not as strictly enforced as with the book one series.

Search the War Ration Books collection

We established this ration book search to assist researchers in tracking down records of possible relatives and ancestors. While we have been collecting ration books for several years, these records also include links to imaged books online at other web sites. This database index now includes over 11,210 listings.

Keep in mind that the book covers were handwritten by the individual, many in pencil, so also search for surname variations just in case the records were misinterpreted during the transcription process.

Contributing Ration Books

Effective March 2010, all user contributed document images and transcriptions will be posted to our Family History Wiki upon receipt, and then indexed by the appropriate database project. You are welcome to email us scanned images and/or mail the original documents. Please refer to "Contributing to the Family History Wiki" for instructions.

If you have some war ration books and are unable to contribute images and/or originals, you may catalog them online as an alternative method for sharing the information with other researchers.


This Day In History: 17 States Ration Gasoline For WWII Effort

On May 15, 1942, 17 states joined up to begin rationing gasoline as part of the United States’ World War II effort. It was mostly Eastern states that had done so, but by the end of the year, all 48 states were required to join the ration.

(Welcome to Today in History, the series where we dive into important historical events that have had a significant impact on the automotive or racing world. If you have something you’d like to see that falls on an upcoming weekend, let me know at eblackstock [at] jalopnik [dot] com.)

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the US finally committed to joining World War II by declaring war against Japan, with Germany and Italy subsequently declaring war on America. For a country that had avoided choosing sides or sending men into battle, the shift on the home front was massive. Enlisted men were shipped off to war, and women hit the factories. Automotive plants bgan making tanks and planes. Households had to limit the consumption of products like rubber, sugar, alcohol, and cigarettes.

But gasoline was just as important for the war effort, since something needed to be used to power all those planes. Here’s a little more from History :

Ration stamps for gasoline were issued by local boards and pasted to the windshield of a family or individual’s automobile. The type of stamp determined the gasoline allotment for that automobile. Black stamps, for example, signified non-essential travel and mandated no more than three gallons per week, while red stamps were for workers who needed more gas, including policemen and mail carriers. As a result of the restrictions, gasoline became a hot commodity on the black market, while legal measures of conserving gas—such as carpooling—also flourished. In a separate attempt to reduce gas consumption, the government passed a mandatory wartime speed limit of 35 mph, known as the “Victory Speed.”


II. Defending the Homefront

Protecting the important northern shipping lanes and guarding against coastal invasion was made even more urgent by the frequent presence of German submarines along the New England coast. A coalition of military and civilian groups carried out patrols in the northern ship lanes, escorted convoys, provided defenses such as mines along the coast, carried out search and rescue operations, investigated submarine sightings, and were prepared to attack the enemy when necessary.

A Navy War Diary:

    , Activity and Suspicious Events, April 1944, Northern Group War Diary, April 1944 (13 pages), Monthly War Diaries, Operations Officer, First Naval District, Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments, Record Group 181, NARA-Northeast Region (Boston).

The Home Front

When we think of World War II, the first images that enter our minds usually involve battle: armies fighting their desperate struggles on land, huge navies patrolling the oceans, and aircraft soaring sleekly overhead.

When we think of World War II, the first images that enter our minds usually involve battle: armies fighting their desperate struggles on land, huge navies patrolling the oceans, and aircraft soaring sleekly overhead.

All of these stirring images are accurate, of course, and yet they are also incomplete. Consider this: A total of 16 million Americans donned the country’s uniform in the course of the war, out of a total US population of 132 million (according to the 1940 Census).

An impressive number, to be sure! But what of the other 116 million Americans, the ones who remained behind? They played a crucial role in the fight, and their story, too, deserves to be told. Global war placed great demands on the American people, requiring a level of involvement, commitment, and sacrifice unknown in previous conflicts. Without the steadfast support of the “Home Front”—the factory churning out weapons, the mother feeding her family while carefully monitoring her ration book, the child collecting scrap metal for the war effort—US soldiers, sailors, and airmen could not have fought and defeated the Axis. America and its Allies did win World War II on the battlefields of Normandy, Iwo Jima, and Midway. However, those victories owed a great deal to the factories of Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Detroit, and to the dedication of ordinary Americans coast to coast.

Another reason to study the Home Front is the vast social transformation wrought by World War II. Simply put, World War II changed our country forever. For African Americans, the war meant an opportunity to partake fully in national life, a chance denied them up to then. They answered the call in great numbers, serving heroically in all services and on all fronts, migrating up from the South and moving into industrial work all over the country. They knew what was at stake in the war, and they said so: It was time to win a “double victory,” one over fascism abroad and another over racism at home. Women, too, left behind their traditional domestic roles and entered the industrial workforce by the millions. “Rosie the Riveter”—in her blue coveralls, her hair tied up in a scarf, her bicep flexed, and her famous slogan “We Can Do It!”—was the new icon. America could not have won the war unless everyone answered the call. And like a great fire, World War II touched us all.


WORLD WAR II ------On the Home Front

When the United States was suddenly thrust into the global conflict of World War II domestic life was drastically changed in almost every way. As the country geared up for war all manufacturing was switched over to war materials. No new automobiles were made from 1942 to 1946. Factories made military vehicles, airplanes or parts, bombs and shells, etc. Ford Motor Co. in Detroit made B24 bombers on their assembly line. So many men were serving in the military there were massive labor shortages. Woman were called upon even to do jobs men thought they couldn’t do, such as welding, riveting and machine work and could do it very well. For the Civilian population at home everything was in short supply, both due to the need to supply the military and because our imports of materials from silk to rubber were cut off. The federal government took control of most aspects of production, supply, transportation and distribution and the people did not complain (well yes they complained of course) because they realized the need for these actions. People in the war years were extremely patriotic.

Rationing was the most ever present fact of life for the civilian population during the war and perhaps the thing those of us who lived through these times most remember. Instituted by the government to ensure adequate supplies of essential items and to prevent inflation and hoarding, books of ration stamps were issued to every man, woman and child. We had stamps for meat, sugar, margarine, gasoline, shoes, clothes, etc., about all necessities of life. We had red stamps, blue stamps, green stamps, etc. all for different things or quantities of these items. People could buy enough to live on but not (legally) hoard or get more than needed. Silk or nylon for women’s hosiery were non-existent and the ladies became very artistic with leg make-up. Shoes were repaired with half-soles, new heels and tires were given a re-tread as new tires usually were not available. We couldn’t drive far anyway as gas was strictly rationed.

The American people responded to these shortages with the usual American ingenuity. City folks could buy produce and fruit directly from small farmers in the countryside without stamps. Better yet they could grow their own in small gardens. People in town with no room to garden would borrow or rent plots of land in the suburbs with approval and encouragement of the government. These were known as victory gardens, and after the war some of these gardeners built houses and moved to their garden plots. Some folks raised chickens or other small livestock. Canning of fruits and vegetables became very popular. Extra sugar stamps were available for folks to can fruits and to make jams and jelly. I can remember rows of jars of cherries, (we had a cherry tree) peaches, beans, etc. on shelves in our “fruit cellar” in the basement. Chicken feed came in cloth sacks with pretty print designs and were ideal for making dresses for kids and mom, or even shirts.

Patriotism was very strong during WW II. We all bought government War Bonds or savings bonds as we could afford, usually in $25 or $50 denominations. Even us kids could buy saving stamps with our nickels and dimes which would accumulate to enough to get a bond. For some these war bonds served later to buy a new car or make a down payment for house. We saved aluminum foil (we called it tinfoil) from gum and cigarette wrappers rolled into a ball to be turned in as scrap. We saved tin cans, searched for scrap iron and even saved waste kitchen grease which I think could be turned into explosives. We collected milkweed pods which became insulation in pilot’s flight jackets. Families with household members in service would place a flag in the window with a blue star for each person and a gold star flag if someone was killed. All this was our proud contribution to the war effort.

Rationing was the most ever present fact of life for the civilian population during the war and perhaps the thing those of us who lived through these times most remember. Instituted by the government to ensure adequate supplies of essential items and to prevent inflation and hoarding, books of ration stamps were issued to every man, woman and child. We had stamps for meat, sugar, margarine, gasoline, shoes, clothes, etc., about all necessities of life. We had red stamps, blue stamps, green stamps, etc. all for different things or quantities of these items. People could buy enough to live on but not (legally) hoard or get more than needed. Silk or nylon for women’s hosiery were non-existent and the ladies became very artistic with leg make-up. Shoes were repaired with half-soles, new heels and tires were given a re-tread as new tires usually were not available. We couldn’t drive far anyway as gas was strictly rationed.

The American people responded to these shortages with the usual American ingenuity. City folks could buy produce and fruit directly from small farmers in the countryside without stamps. Better yet they could grow their own in small gardens. People in town with no room to garden would borrow or rent plots of land in the suburbs with approval and encouragement of the government. These were known as victory gardens, and after the war some of these gardeners built houses and moved to their garden plots. Some folks raised chickens or other small livestock. Canning of fruits and vegetables became very popular. Extra sugar stamps were available for folks to can fruits and to make jams and jelly. I can remember rows of jars of cherries, (we had a cherry tree) peaches, beans, etc. on shelves in our “fruit cellar” in the basement. Chicken feed came in cloth sacks with pretty print designs and were ideal for making dresses for kids and mom, or even shirts.

Patriotism was very strong during WW II. We all bought government War Bonds or savings bonds as we could afford, usually in $25 or $50 denominations. Even us kids could buy saving stamps with our nickels and dimes which would accumulate to enough to get a bond. For some these war bonds served later to buy a new car or make a down payment for house. We saved aluminum foil (we called it tinfoil) from gum and cigarette wrappers rolled into a ball to be turned in as scrap. We saved tin cans, searched for scrap iron and even saved waste kitchen grease which I think could be turned into explosives. We collected milkweed pods which became insulation in pilot’s flight jackets. Families with household members in service would place a flag in the window with a blue star for each person and a gold star flag if someone was killed. All this was our proud contribution to the war effort.


WOMEN IN THE WAR: ROSIE THE RIVETER AND BEYOND

As in the previous war, the gap in the labor force created by departing soldiers meant opportunities for women. In particular, World War II led many to take jobs in defense plants and factories around the country. For many women, these jobs provided unprecedented opportunities to move into occupations previously thought of as exclusive to men, especially the aircraft industry, where a majority of workers were composed of women by 1943. Most women in the labor force did not work in the defense industry, however. The majority took over other factory jobs that had been held by men. Many took positions in offices as well. As white women, many of whom had been in the workforce before the war, moved into these more highly paid positions, African American women, most of whom had previously been limited to domestic service, took over white women’s lower-paying positions in factories some were also hired by defense plants, however. Although women often earned more money than ever before, it was still far less than men received for doing the same jobs. Nevertheless, many achieved a degree of financial self-reliance that was enticing. By 1944, as many as 33 percent of the women working in the defense industries were mothers and worked “double-day” shifts—one at the plant and one at home.

Still, there was some resistance to women going to work in such a male-dominated environment. In order to recruit women for factory jobs, the government created a propaganda campaign centered on a now-iconic figure known as Rosie the Riveter . Rosie, who was a composite based on several real women, was most famously depicted by American illustrator Norman Rockwell. Rosie was tough yet feminine. To reassure men that the demands of war would not make women too masculine, some factories gave female employees lessons in how to apply makeup, and cosmetics were never rationed during the war. Elizabeth Arden even created a special red lipstick for use by women reservists in the Marine Corps.

“Rosie the Riveter” became a generic term for all women working in the defense industry. Although the Rosie depicted on posters was white, many of the real Rosies were African American, such as this woman who poses atop an airplane at the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in Burbank, California (a), and Anna Bland, a worker at the Richmond Shipyards (b).

Although many saw the entry of women into the workforce as a positive thing, they also acknowledged that working women, especially mothers, faced great challenges. To try to address the dual role of women as workers and mothers, Eleanor Roosevelt urged her husband to approve the first U.S. government childcare facilities under the Community Facilities Act of 1942. Eventually, seven centers, servicing 105,000 children, were built. The First Lady also urged industry leaders like Henry Kaiser to build model childcare facilities for their workers. Still, these efforts did not meet the full need for childcare for working mothers.

The lack of childcare facilities meant that many children had to fend for themselves after school, and some had to assume responsibility for housework and the care of younger siblings. Some mothers took younger children to work with them and left them locked in their cars during the workday. Police and social workers also reported an increase in juvenile delinquency during the war. New York City saw its average number of juvenile cases balloon from 9,500 in the prewar years to 11,200 during the war. In San Diego, delinquency rates for girls, including sexual misbehavior, shot up by 355 percent. It is unclear whether more juveniles were actually engaging in delinquent behavior the police may simply have become more vigilant during wartime and arrested youngsters for activities that would have gone overlooked before the war. In any event, law enforcement and juvenile courts attributed the perceived increase to a lack of supervision by working mothers.

Tens of thousands of women served in the war effort more directly. Approximately 350,000 joined the military. They worked as nurses, drove trucks, repaired airplanes, and performed clerical work to free up men for combat. Those who joined the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) flew planes from the factories to military bases. Some of these women were killed in combat and captured as prisoners of war. Over sixteen hundred of the women nurses received various decorations for courage under fire. Many women also flocked to work in a variety of civil service jobs. Others worked as chemists and engineers, developing weapons for the war. This included thousands of women who were recruited to work on the Manhattan Project, developing the atomic bomb.


World War II Homefront

World War II was a TOTAL war. Total was is defined as complete involvement in war effort of nation’s military, civilian, economic, and political resources.

Exploring our nation's homefront is a good way to understand WWII as a total war.

LINK to World War II homefront information and timeline.

With your team, create a finished product to represent "The American Homefront as a Tool of War".

Grading Rubric -

10 pts Demonstrates deep knowledge throughout the project

10 pts Represents the homefront as a "tool of war" (consider a well-rounded view of the homefront with social, political, economic, political. aspects)

12 pts Utilizes 4 timeline events from below (develops information beyond this page)

12 pts Utilizes 4 researched OR other timeline events (develops information beyond this page)

6 pts Uses visuals to enhance the information presented

Time line of homefront events:

Jun 22, 1938--Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling

African-American boxer Joe Louis knocks out German fighter Max Schmeling in Yankee Stadium before 70,000 people. LINK to article LINK to YouTube video

Jan 21, 1938-- March of Time

Time Inc. releases an anti-Nazi propaganda newsreel entitled March of Time in Nazi Germany. LINK to YouTube video- Anti-Germany

Jan 2, 1939-- Hitler Time's Man of the Year 1938

"Greatest single news event of 1938 took place on September 29, when four statesmen met at the Führerhaus, in Munich, to redraw the map of Europe. The three visiting statesmen at that historic conference were Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain of Great Britain, Premier Edouard Daladier of France, and Dictator Benito Mussolini of Italy. But by all odds the dominating figure at Munich was the German host, Adolf Hitler. Führer of the German people, Commander-in-Chief of the German Army, Navy & Air Force, Chancellor of the Third Reich, Herr Hitler reaped on that day at Munich the harvest of an audacious, defiant, ruthless foreign policy he had pursued for five and a half years. He had torn the Treaty of Versailles to shreds. He had rearmed Germany to the teeth— or as close to the teeth as he was able. He had stolen Austria before the eyes of a horrified and apparently impotent world. All these events were shocking to nations which had defeated Germany on the battlefield only 20 years before, but nothing so terrified the world as the ruthless, methodical, Nazi-directed events which during late summer and early autumn threatened a world war over Czechoslovakia. When without loss of blood he reduced Czechoslovakia to a German puppet state, forced a drastic revision of Europe's defensive alliances, and won a free hand for himself in Eastern Europe by getting a "hands-off" promise from powerful Britain (and later France), Adolf Hitler without doubt became 1938's Man of the Year." source-- http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,760539,00.html Jun 6, 1939 -- U.S. Returns Jews Passenger ship St. Louis , containing 907 Jewish refugees, begins its journey back to Europe after the Cuba and the United States refuses to grant it permission to dock.

"Sailing so close to Florida that they could see the lights of Miami, some passengers on the St. Louis cabled President Franklin D. Roosevelt asking for refuge. Roosevelt never responded. The State Department and the White House had decided not to take extraordinary measures to permit the refugees to enter the United States. A State Department telegram sent to a passenger stated that the passengers must "await their turns on the waiting list and qualify for and obtain immigration visas before they may be admissible into the United States." US diplomats in Havana intervened once more with the Cuban government to admit the passengers on a "humanitarian" basis, but without success. Quotas established in the US Immigration and Nationality Act of 1924 strictly limited the number of immigrants who could be admitted to the United States each year. In 1939, the annual combined German-Austrian immigration quota was 27,370 and was quickly filled. In fact, there was a waiting list of at least several years. US officials could only have granted visas to the St. Louis passengers by denying them to the thousands of German Jews placed further up on the waiting list. Public opinion in the United States, although ostensibly sympathetic to the plight of refugees and critical of Hitler's policies, continued to favor immigration restrictions. The Great Depression had left millions of people in the United States unemployed and fearful of competition for the scarce few jobs available. It also fueled antisemitism, xenophobia, nativism, and isolationism. A Fortune Magazine poll at the time indicated that 83 percent of Americans opposed relaxing restrictions on immigration. President Roosevelt could have issued an executive order to admit the St. Louis refugees, but this general hostility to immigrants, the gains of isolationist Republicans in the Congressional elections of 1938, and Roosevelt's consideration of running for an unprecedented third term as president were among the political considerations that militated against taking this extraordinary step in an unpopular cause." SOURCE-- LINK

LINK to article on the return to Europe

1940-- For Whom the Bell Tolls Published

American author Ernest Hemingway publishes For Whom the Bell Tolls , a novel about a young American in Spain who joins an antifascist guerrilla force in the Spanish Civil War .

PLOT- "This novel is told primarily through the thoughts and experiences of the protagonist, Robert Jordan. The character was inspired by Hemingway's own experiences in the Spanish Civil War as a reporter for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Robert Jordan is an American in the International Brigades who travels to Spain to oppose the fascist forces of Francisco Franco . As an experienced dynamiter, he was ordered by a communist Russian general to travel behind enemy lines and destroy a bridge with the aid of a band of local antifascist guerrillas , in order to prevent enemy troops from being able to respond to an upcoming offensive. (The Soviet Union aided and advised the Republicans against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War.). "SOURCE-- LINK

1940-- Mexican-Americans Construct Naval Armory

The Naval Reserve Armory is built in Chavez Ravine, a California region populated primarily by poor and working-class Mexican Americans.

1940 - Sep 2, 1945-- Mexican Immigration RisesMexican immigration in California rises dramatically in the 1940s the Mexican and Mexican-American population in Los Angeles reaches a quarter of a million.

Aug 1, 1940-- Congress Enacts Draft

Congress appropriates $16 billion for defense spending and enacts the first peacetime draft in American history.

Oct 29, 1940-- Thousands Drafted

The first military draft numbers are drawn, sending thousands of draftees to drill camps all over the country.

Oct 1940-- Roosevelt Reelected to Third Term

In the presidential election, Democrats break with the two-term tradition and renominate Franklin D. Roosevelt for a third term. Republicans nominate Wendell L. Willkie , a public-utilities executive who shares FDR's views on the war in Europe. Franklin D. Roosevelt defeats Wendell L. Willkie by nearly 5 million popular votes.

Dec 29, 1940 -- Arsenal of Democracy

President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers a fireside chat to the American people announcing, "We must be the great arsenal of democracy."

In his State of the Union Address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaims the nation's commitment to the "Four Freedoms" : freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. He also proposes a "lend- lease" program to deliver arms to Great Britain to be paid for following the war's end. Congress approves the bill.

Jul 19, 1941--Tuskegee Airmen

The United States War Department opens the Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Alabama, a segregated military base and the first U.S. Air Force facility to train black servicemen to be fighter pilots.

Aug 28, 1941-- Rationing Established

The Office of Price Administration (OPA) is established to ration scarce consumer goods and to set maximum prices on other products during wartime.

Sep 1941-- Fight for Freedom Rally

A coalition of university officials, ministers, businessmen, and labor leaders sponsor a "Fight For Freedom" rally at New York's Madison Square Garden to pressure the federal government to declare war against Germany.

The United States declares war on Japan.

Dec 11, 1941-- Axis Declares War on US

Germany and Italy, Japan's Axis partners, declare war on the United States. The United States declares war on Germany and Italy.

Jan 31, 1942-- War Production Board Created

President Franklin D. Roosevelt creates the War Production Board (WPB) to mobilize American businesses for the war effort.

Jan 31, 1942--National War Labor Board Established

The National War Labor Board is established to administer wages and work hours and to monitor working conditions in national industries.

Jan 6, 1942-- Largest Government Budget Proposed

President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivers his State of the Union address in which he proposes a massive government spending budget, the largest in American history.

Feb 19, 1942--Japanese Internment Approved

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066 , which gives the military the authority to evacuate Japanese nationals and Japanese-American citizens from the West Coast. The Order sets the stage for Japanese internment.

Feb 27, 1942-- Idaho Allows Concentration Camps

Governor Chase Clark of Idaho agrees to allow Japanese Americans exiled from California to settle in his state under the condition that they be placed in "concentration camps under military guard."

Mar 18, 1942-- War Relocation Authority Established

President Franklin D. Roosevelt establishes the War Relocation Authority (WRA).

Twentieth Century Fox releases Little Tokyo, U.S.A. , a film in which Japanese Americans are portrayed as a "vast army of volunteer spies."

May 1942-- Office of War Information and Domestic Propaganda

The U.S. government creates the Office of War Information (OWI) to mobilize American support for the war effort. The agency used broadcast radio, film, the national press, and posters .

Jun 12, 1942-- Gang Violence in Los Angeles

Following a track meet at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, 19-year old Frank Torres is shot to death. Newspapers will blame Mexican gangs for the violence.

Oct 20, 1942-- Roosevelt Describes US Concentration Camps

At a press conference, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, perhaps inadvertently, refers to the internment camps as "concentration camps."

Nov 1942--Tabloids Cover Gangs

The Los Angeles tabloid Sensation prints an article on Mexican gangs written by Clem Peoples , the Chief of the Criminal Division of the LAPD. The issue flies off the shelves.

The War Relocation Authority establishes a prison in Moab, Utah for resistant Japanese internment camp inmates .

In 1943, race riots break out in cities throughout the country, including Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, Mobile, Alabama, and Beaumont, Texas.

1943 - Dec 31, 1943-- Detroit Riots

Following a protest in Detroit over a public housing development, fights between whites and blacks escalate into a city-wide riot leaving 25 blacks and 9 whites dead, and $2 million worth of property, largely in black neighborhoods, destroyed.

Jan 6, 1943-- Resignation Over Segregation

William H. Hastie , an African-American aide to Secretary of War Henry Stimson , resigns in protest of continued segregation in military training facilities.

Feb 20, 1943 through March 13-- Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms

Throughout the spring, incidents in which United States servicemen clash with Mexican-American youth occur several times per day.

May 29, 1943-- Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter

Norman Rockwell’s painting entitled "Rosie the Riveter" is featured on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, a magazine that encouraged women to join the wartime work force.

Jun 4, 1943-- Zoot Suit Riot

Riots ensue as servicemen raid downtown Los Angeles targeting Mexican Americans.

Jun 6, 1943--Zoot Suit Riots Expand

Rioting spills into East Los Angeles. An investigatory committee created by the California Attorney General concludes that the press and the LAPD fueled the rioting in Los Angeles.

Jun 7, 1943--LA Rioting Spreads to Watts

Soldiers, sailors, and marines from all over southern California travel to Los Angeles to join in the rioting . Nearly 5,000 civilians and servicemen begin downtown and spread into Watts, a predominantly African-American neighborhood.

Jun 8, 1943--Military Evacuates Soldiers from LA

Military officials order all servicemen to evacuate Los Angeles or be arrested, thereby quelling much of the rioting.

Feb 1943 - Jul 1, 1943--LA Bans Zoot Suits

The Los Angeles City Council agrees to ban the wearing of zoot suits in public, resolving to institute a 50-day jail term for those who violate the new rule.

Jun 21, 1943--Court Upholds Japanese Curfew

The United States Supreme Court upholds wartime curfew and exclusion orders affecting Japanese Americans.

Sep 8, 1943-- Italy Surrenders

Italy officially surrenders to the Allied powers.

1944--An American Dilemma published

Gunnar Myrdal, a Swedish social scientist, writes An American Dilemma , a book citing the problems with American racial policies and suggesting that World War II may very well be the catalyst for change.

D-Day : a vast assembly of Allied soldiers invades German strongholds in France, initiating a German retreat.

Apr 12, 1945--Roosevelt Dies

President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia. With the death of President Roosevelt, Vice President Harry S. Truman becomes the 33rd President of the United States.

May 2, 1945-- Germany Surrenders

Germany surrenders , ending war on the European front.

Jul 15, 1945-- Truman Honors Japanese Americans

In Washington D.C., the 442nd Regimental Combat Team , comprised entirely of Japanese Americans, is honored by President Truman.

Responding to Japan's refusal to surrender, the United States drops an atomic bomb—the first to be used in warfare—on Hiroshima , killing 75,000 people instantly, and injuring more than 100,000.


The instructions on the back of the booklet read:

1. This book is valuable. Don't lose it.

2. Each stamp authorizes you to purchase rationed goods in the quantities and at the times designated by the Office of Price Administration. Without the stamps you will be unable to purchase these goods.

3. Detailed instructions concerning the use of the book and the stamps will be issued. Watch for those instructions so that you will know how to use your book and stamps. Your Local War Price and Rationing Board can give you full information.

4. Do not throw this book away when all of the stamps have been used, or when the time for their use has expired. You may be required to present this book when you apply for subsequent books.

Rationing is a vital part of your country's war effort. Any attempt to violate the rules is an effort to deny someone his share and will create hardship and help the enemy.

This book is your Government's assurance of your right to buy your share of certain goods made scarce by war. Price ceilings have also been established for your protection. Dealers must post these prices conspicuously. Don't pay more. Give your whole support to rationing and thereby conserve our vital goods. Be guided by the rule: "If you don't need it, DON'T BUY IT."

US Government Printing Office 1943

Victory Gardens: People were encouraged by the government to plant Victory Gardens and grow their own vegetables to supplement the foods they could buy with their ration stamps. Victory Gardens were planted at the zoos, at race tracks, at Ellis Island and Alcatraz, at playgrounds, in school yards, in back-yards, at the library, in grassy bits in parking lots emptied by gas rationing - absolutely everywhere.

Junk Rally: There were signs all over town promoting something called a Junk Rally, a scrap drive. Kids helped. They took their little red wagons door to door collecting scrap metal. Junk Rally signs said:

"JUNK RALLY. Don't (you and I) let brave men die because we faltered at home. Pile the scrap metal on your parkway. Civilian Defense workers will pick it up. Junk helps make guns, tanks, ships for our fighting men .. Bring in anything made of metal or rubber. Flat irons, rakes, bird cages, electric irons, stoves, lamp bulbs, bed rails, pianos, washing machines, rubber goods, farm machinery, lawn mowers, etc are needed. V is for VICTORY!"

For Americans at home, living without was not that difficult. Many people remembered the Depression. By comparison, things were not that bad. Most people were glad to have some way to help, to take an active part in the war. They pitched in to help. Americans accepted rationing. They did without consumer goods happily. They even had fun with it. At that time, nylon stockings had a line up the back. Women couldn't buy stockings, but they could paint the back of their legs with a line, and many did.


Simon Partner: The WW II Home Front In Japan

Contrary to the popular image in the West of the World War II-era Japanese as fanatically and uniformly behind the war effort, the Japanese government had to mobilize and motivate its citizens during wartime.

Simon Partner is an assistant professor of history. He delivered this talk, "Coercion and Consent: The Home Front in Japan" on Feb. 26, 2003, as part of the lecture series The Weight of War, a lecture series sponsored by the History Department. Prof. Claudia Koonz also gave a talk on the Nazi techniques of popular persuasion.

(The lecture opens with a film clip.)

This was an extract from the Frank Capra film, "Know Your Enemy '" Japan." The images in this introductory section are intended to present a picture of a people who, although overtly modern, industrial, and technological, are steeped in traditional beliefs and alien values that are incomprehensible to a Westerner.

'Like photographic plates from the same negative': the very humanity of the Japanese is called into question as an image is presented of an identical, fanatic horde. Well, this is a propaganda film. But my purpose in this talk is to show you that the Japanese government actually grappled with very similar issues to those faced by other belligerent countries -- particularly those, like Germany, that were fighting aggressive wars and not in defense of the homeland: how do you motivate and mobilize a vast population of independent-minded individuals, who were generally more interested in their own family's welfare than in the more abstract destiny of the nation?

Let's look at another brief extract from later in the documentary.

This extract reflects the prevailing view among the Allies that the Japanese were fanatically and uniformly loyal to their Emperor and their nation.

That's not how Japanese government saw it. Rather, leaders of Japanese war effort saw many obstacles to the effective mobilization of their civilian population.

It's important to understand that Japan was much less technologically sophisticated than Germany, as you'll see among other things from the fact that Claudia's illustrations are all in color, mine in black and white. Although the Japanese government was very interested in Nazi techniques of popular persuasion, Japan lacked the economic power and infrastructure to implement a sophisticated mass marketing campaign. For example, in 1940 more than 50 percent of the population lived in rural communities. Of these, only 6 percent owned radio sets, and most had only four to six years of schooling so were barely literate, and disposable income was so low that even a newspaper subscription was beyond the reach of many families. Indeed, rural families were living so near the margin of subsistence that they had very little extra to give.

Given its limited capabilities in mass communication, if the government wanted to get out a message, often the relevant officials had to go out and spread it themselves (slide here), as in this case, where the finance minister of Japan is giving a speech promoting saving to the children and parents of a local elementary school.

For Japanese civilians, the war began in July 1937, with the launch of an all-out campaign by the Japanese military in China. The government didn't need to persuade people to express their support for the military, through gestures such as (slide) dressing up boys in military costume for the traditional shrine visit (slide) or cooling themselves with fans decorated with military motifs or (slide) rallying to celebrate the fall of Nanking in December 1937. But for most Japanese people, the war in China was still a very remote event, and (slide) the realities of that brutal campaign were yet to be felt in the homeland.

In August 1937, the government launched a 'National Spiritual Mobilization Campaign' (slide), which continued under varied auspices throughout the war years. This campaign was primarily concerned with bringing the many independent patriotic organizations already in existence in Japan under a single umbrella, and providing guidance from the center. For example, large numbers of women were already flocking to the Patriotic Women's Association and the National Women's Defense Association.

The Spiritual Mobilization Campaign formalized the status of these organizations, and eventually membership was to become compulsory. Their activities included the preparation of care packages for soldiers at the front, (slide) the sewing of thousand stitch belts to be worn by soldiers at the front under their uniforms (slide) campaigns aimed at encouraging frugality and austerity, such as the wearing of utilitarian trousers instead of the traditional kimono, and (slide) campaigns against extravagant clothes and western fashions: here, a woman is being castigated for her permanent wave.

The Spiritual Mobilization Campaign also organized mass rallies to celebrate military events, such as the 'Crush America and Britain' rally on the December 10th 1941, the 'National Rally on the Propagation of the War Rescript' on the 13th, the 'Strengthening Air Defense Spirit' rally on the 16th, and the 'Axis Pact Certain Victory Promotion' military rally on the 22nd. (slide) This illustration is the national rally to celebrate the fall of Singapore, held in February 1942.

Another focal point of the Spiritual Mobilization Campaign was the school system. The schools had always encouraged patriotism and reverence for the emperor. Every school in Japan contained a cabinet or shrine, in which resided a photograph of the Emperor and his consort. The children had to bow every time they passed it. Children were taught that the emperor was the father of the country, always thinking of the welfare of his people. In April 1941, elementary schools were renamed "National Schools," and they adopted a new mission of 'washing their hands of the former Western view of life, and correcting the view that education is an investment or a path to success and happiness.' Rather, the schools were to 'restore the former spirit of Japanese education, nurture the innate disposition of the Japanese people who are the support of the world and the leaders of the Asian league, return to the imperial way, and wholeheartedly promote the Japanese spirit.' The main practical effect was to eliminate the summer vacation, which was now renamed the 'summer training period," devoted to voluntary labor.

All these initiatives were effective to an extent. Certainly the Japanese people were willing to express love for the emperor and loyalty to nation, and to make at least token sacrifices '" so long as the nation kept winning victories.

But I can't help feeling that until the shortages and the death toll from the war began to really bite '" that is, from 1942 onward '" spiritual mobilization was something of a game, (slide) as in the case of these students playing baseball in their air raid gear, or (slide) these elementary school children playing at being casualties in a air raid drill. The people even expressed hatred of the enemy, which the Japanese government was never very successful at instilling, through playful gestures, (slide) such as this street in Tokyo where people had a chance to trample on the American flag or (slide) this school playground where children were encouraged to take a shot at images of Roosevelt and Churchill.

The Spiritual Mobilization Campaign was all well and good, but it's notoriously hard to bring about real changes in people's daily lives, of the kind required by an all-out war effort: drastic reductions in consumption the integration of hitherto marginal social groups into the war production system and the offering of all able bodied men to the military machine.

Those changes were brought about in Japan, but not for the most part by methods of propaganda or persuasion. Rather, they were brought about by coercion, dire necessity, and '" in the case of labor force mobilization '" by substantial financial incentives.

Far more significant for daily life than spiritual mobilization were the effects of the Economic Mobilization Law of 1938. This law created a command economy in which civilian and military bureaucrats set production quotas by industry, controlled profits and dividends, and oversaw the day to day activities of major industries. The system severely limited consumer goods production '" for example, virtually no textiles were produced for domestic consumption after 1941.

The government introduced a system of stringent rationing, that in addition to food included clothes, nails, needles, bandages, shoes, sakecooking oil, tire tubes, and many other items. I mentioned dire necessity, and this is illustrated by the fact that even the Draconian rationing system was overtaken in the final years of the war by the collapse of domestic production and the tightening Allied hold on Japan's shipping lanes. Increasingly, rations arrived late or not at all '" and the majority of Japanese civilians were forced into a life of petty crime as they struggled to find enough food for bare subsistence '" (slide) as illustrated in this image, of a line quickly forming outside a bombed out rice storage warehouse.

One of the most notable successes of the Japanese government in mobilizing its people was the system of neighborhood associations, which became the front line in the effort to control and influence daily life.

Neighborhood associations were an ancient institution in Asian life. For more than two thousand years, the Chinese government grouped its subjects into units of five households or more, and made the units collectively responsible for tax collection and the prevention of crime. This system was in effect in Japan in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. By the twentieth century, the neighborhood group had become an integral, but informal, part of the fabric of Japanese society. The Japanese government lacked the manpower and technologies to control the daily lives of its subjects through direct supervision, and, in spite of the rhetoric of loyalty, the government was not confident that households on their own would faithfully comply with government directives. The government saw in the neighborhood associations a way to penetrate to the farthest reaches of Japanese society.

Membership was made compulsory, and the activities of the associations were formalized, to include the distribution of rations, air defense, the coordination of savings drives, volunteer labor, and ensuring that men eligible for the draft reported for duty. The system relied on the fact that even if people were willing to cheat the government and even the emperor, they could not face cheating on the people they had to live next door to. It was a very effective system of control, and it thrives to this day in North Korea, as I'm told.

Like other wartime governments, the government of Japan needed to mobilize hitherto marginal elements of the population, notably women and children, into the workforce. Children were mobilized through the school system, which sent large numbers of students to work, though at a notoriously low level of productivity. Women, and men who were too old or weak for military service, were mobilized primarily through the offer of good wages.

For many Japanese families, the war economy offered economic opportunities such as they had never enjoyed before. Indeed, the government found itself in the anomalous position of having to forbid its rural citizens from taking up the factory jobs that were beckoning to them, because to do so would further reduce food production. Nevertheless, and in spite of the government effort to stem the flow, more than one million under-employed rural citizens moved permanently to urban factory jobs as a result of the war economy.

To summarize, then, the mobilization of the Japanese people in an all-out war effort was not achieved through spiritual fanaticism, nor through sophisticated techniques of persuasion. Rather, it was achieved through a mixture of old-fashioned economic incentives, old-fashioned coercion, and old-fashioned techniques of social control.

I'd like now to introduce to you a lady who has become quite important in my life, since she and her family are the subject of my latest book, on the transformation of Japan's rural society. This lady is called Toshie Sakaue. She lives in a rural community in Northern Japan. She is a well-preserved seventy-eight years old, which means that at the time of Pearl Harbor she was seventeen.

Toshie's experiences of the war are probably not so different from those of millions of other young rural women. During her school years, she was trained to revere the emperor, and she did revere him, but much more important to her in her six years of schooling were her friends and her basic education in reading and writing.

After school, at the age of twelve she was sent out to work by her father, as a housemaid in a nearby village. Her minimal wages were sent directly to her father, although the more important benefit to the family from her employment was the reduction in mouths to feed. The events in far-away China seemed utterly remote to her.

The war first came home to her when her eldest brother was drafted into the army after the outbreak of hostilities in 1937. He did a tour of duty, and returned home in 1939. Toshie's family life was hardly an easy one even in normal times. Her elder sister was mentally ill, and, since there were no facilities available for her care, the family was responsible for supervising her, and making sure she didn't come to any harm, or cause harm to others. The family's small plot of mainly rented, and not very productive, land must be farmed without the aid of animal or machine power. All the members of the family went out to work whenever work was available, usually as manual laborers, in order the supplement the family's never-adequate cash income. In December 1941, Japan attacked the United States and entered the World War. Toshie felt the same fear that many others did at the immensity of the act, and at the unknown future. The mayor of a neighboring village wrote in the village newspaper: 'When I heard the announcement on the radio, I felt a chill throughout my body and the flow of my blood reversed its course. The recognition that a great affliction was facing our empire was carved in my heart.' (He castigated himself in a subsequent article for his unpatriotic doubts). Toshie felt quite unable to pass judgment on the nation's leaders: the events seemed too remote from her small sphere of knowledge and experience. But she was heartened by Japan's early victories, and she was sure that Japan could not lose. In 1942, Toshie's eldest brother was called back up, and her other brother was also drafted. With two men gone, the family's labor became all the more onerous. The burden on the family became still heavier with the introduction of the food requisitioning system. Every household in the village was required to meet a quota of food production, to be delivered to the authorities via the neighborhood association. Since Toshie's family's land was unproductive, their quota amounted to almost all their crop. Although some families were said to cheat and hide food for their own consumption, Toshie's father knew that if he failed to meet his quota, another family in the group would have to make up the difference. He complied, even though the family went short. In 1943, Toshie's father sent her back out to work. This time, she worked as a stevedore on the docks, unloading coal and other bulk cargoes from ships. The work was incredibly arduous. Toshie worked in a labor gang alongside American prisoners of war and slave laborers from China and Korea. But Toshie brought home a wage of five yen a day '" an unheard of amount for a woman's labor. Her father was thankful for the economic contribution, and he gave her no choice but to continue the work. Both of Toshie's brothers were killed in the war. This was not an unusual statistic in her village, where more than 30 percent of the men under 30 never came home. She traveled to Sendai, an overnight journey, to collect her brother's ashes. It was the first time she had ever been away from her village. In addition to her work on the Niigata docks, Toshie also had to participate in the activities of the National Women's Defense Association. Her duties included sending off the young men who left for the army, helping families who had lost their sons, attending lectures and rallies on the war effort, membership in the air raid squad, sewing of thousand stitch belts and care packages, and putting on entertainments for the villagers. The most striking thing about Toshie's experience of the war was how little choice she and the other members of her family had. None of them could stop her brothers going to war, and dying. They could not evade the responsibility of taking care of Toshie's sick sister. The crops had to be brought in, and their food delivery quotas had to be met. Toshie's father made her go out to work '" and he kept all of her wages. For Toshie, coercion, and not persuasion, was the driving force in her life. That said, this was not just a condition of wartime. Toshie, like many other daughters of poor farm families, had very little choice in the direction of her life from her birth until at least a decade after the end of the war. Toshie's experience of the war was not all miserable. She enjoyed the relative prominence in village affairs lent her by the absence of men. She enjoyed organizing village activities, particularly the entertainments such as this one, where the women had to take all the men's parts. And she was as happy as anyone else to celebrate Japan's victories in the early stages of the war. Toshie remembers the surrender of Japan as a moment of unbearable disillusionment. She had placed all her trust in the leaders, believing them when they told her Japan could not lose. With the defeat, she lost much of her faith in the nation's leadership. But she remained, after all, a product of her upbringing. One of her first acts in the aftermath of defeat was to undertake the long journey to Tokyo, for the first time in her life. Once arrived in Tokyo, she traveled to the imperial palace, where for three days she worked as a volunteer laborer in the palace grounds, helping clean up after the wartime years of neglect. Afterwards, her labor group was greeted by the Emperor, who told them that he knew how they must be struggling, but that they should not lose heart. Toshie remembers this as one of the most moving moments in her life. Toshie's experiences of the war were not so different from those of other rural women. But she experienced them, not as a fanatic, nor as a brainwashed automaton, but as an individual, a sensitive and caring person who loved her family and who couldn't bear to be shamed in front of her fellow villagers. Toshie's consent for the war effort was given willingly, her participation was genuine, even as coercion remained a basic and ineluctable fact of her life.


Watch the video: Living On Rations In The Second World War. WW2: I Was There