White, Charles, EM2

Electrician's Mate
 Service Photo   Service Details
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Current Service Status
USN Reserve Veteran
Current/Last Rank
Petty Officer Second Class (E-5)
Current/Last Service Branch
Repair Technician
Current/Last Primary Designator/NEC
EM-4615-Electrical Motor Rewinder
Current/Last Rating/NEC Group
Electrician's Mate
Primary Unit
1982-1982, USS Samuel Gompers (AD-37)
Service Years
1984 - 1986
Official/Unofficial US Navy Certificates
Cold War
Great Lakes
EM-Electrician's Mate
One Hash Mark

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

Order of the Shellback US Navy Honorable Discharge Cold War Medal

 Military Association Memberships
Post 170
  2011, American Legion, Post 170 (Member) (Seattle , Washington) [Verified] - Chap. Page

 Additional Information
What are you doing now:
http://www.navy.mil/navydata/navy_legacy_hr.asp?id=168   This link will help you locate smeone your trying to find.

This link will lead you to free manuals in any technical or other fied of study you choose. This is the best training Training you can get. They are free courtesy of the United States Navy.

findagrave.com  The best Geneology site I'v found.

I just got in touch with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, as I think I've discovered the way to actually eliminate the virus using my approach and it will only take one treatment lsting less than four hours. I am in the process of applying for a patent on this and plan on taking on cancer and a few other things for starters. A lot of people can't understand my thought process especialy when I talk sbout the free electrons in the outer ring of an atom and a lot of other things also. Such is life, Randy
Other Comments:


 I'd like to add a tribute to Pvt Columbus Price Burnett who served in the Con federate States Army 30th Texas Calvary, Company "G". He is a distant relative of mine who was born Aug. 31, 1843 and died Apr. 4, 1911. He is buried in Edna Hill Cemetary Erath conty Texas. His wife was "Sllie" Frances (White) Burnett who was born on Nov. 2, 1872 in Dublin Texas. They had one daughter Ann Burnett Porterfield who was born in 1881 and died in 1964 two two years before my father, she is buried in the Barbee Cemetary, as are many other of my relatives. I've requested a picture from other family members and hope to post it soon, Randy 

 I have decided to legally adopt my nephew and two stepchildren, as my nephew told me last night he wishes I'd been his father as he never had one. My stepdaughter and I have talked about it for years and her real father has never contacted her in the last 27 years. He pretty much divorced her when my wife divorced him for cheating on her. She want's me to adopt her even though she is an adult. I went ahead and gave my nephew my fathers high school ring the other day, as he is one of the few remaining members of my family. Wish me luck. Randy




Many people may not know about his time in the U.S. Army.


He is the son of an Air Force General and an accomplished Golden Gloves boxer.  He graduated from Pomona College with a B.S. degree and then became a Rhodes Scholar from Oxford University.


He joined the U.S. Army at the prompting of his father.  After


He was about to be promoted to the rank of Major and


appointed to teach at West Point when he resigned his


commission from the Army to go into music and acting. You can tell in this video that his time in the military means a lot to him.

Click here to be pleasantly surprised.



graduating from Officer Candidate School he attended and graduated from both Army Airborne and Ranger training in the top of each class. He was selected for U. S. Army Special Forces Training but refused so that he could attend pilot training where he earned his wings and became an accomplished U.S. Army helicopter (gun ship) pilot, achieving the rank of Captain.

Albert J. Kolar who enlisted at 18 and served in Germany.


I am Anthony Scott Brown. My uncle Charles R. White has come up withe a new way of defeating the aids virus using no chemicals or drugs. He is researching the cause of cancer starting at the atomic level and the free electrons in the outer ring of the atom. He was electrocuted, but is over it and still working on many things. The radiation used to kill the cancer cells in his mother in laws body also destroyed a great deal of lymph nodes. He is looking at using stem cells to rebuild her immune system and many other things. He has been given the authority to serve as an attourney on many things also and works on solving these issues while he is talking with the Judge, hospitals, and many other people. He is also a programmer for many types of processors. He refuses to admit the effects the electrocution, PTSD, 2nd and 3rd degree burns have had on him and just keeps on going. He has taken me in as when my mother died my stepfather threw me out not even letting me take my personal possetions. I was underage and had no money, home, or transportation. He is buying me an 18 wheeler truck in his own name so I can make a living. He is also taking out a loan to puchase a mobile home and has already run the electrical and water lines, so I can have a home of my own right behind him and is using money he really can't spare to do so. His dissability pays him a little over $1,200 a month and his pain medication and other drugs prescribed to him take a lot of that. He has a ruptured disk and stenosis of the spine but just ignores it and keeps working. He won't let them give him stronger drugs, as he is afraid they would keep him from working. He has had the doctors cut his medications in half, but doesn't take them as they don't ease his pain. Is there any money available to help him with his research? I now it's past the time limit to nominate him for a nobel peace prize, but I would like to nominate him for next year. He is truly a great man and is working on so many things at one time it's mind boggeling.
He is not a racist or homophobic and has had friends who died of cancer. He donates to many organazations like Saint Judes childrens hospital, USU, Tuskegee Airmens organzation, and many more. He might spend $10 on himself a month and only drives around twenty miles a month, as he is too busy to go anywhere. He is also a volunteer photographer and takes pictures for people in 23 cemeterys and gets no compensation for doing so. He joined the American legion Queen Anne post in Washington, as his friend who is gay is the treasurer and publishes the newsletter. He doesn't have the time to spare to read it though. Needless to say he is a very busy man. I try and make him eat, but he never gets hungry and he only eats because he has to which will allow him to keep on living. He is still not scared of electricity and repaired the central air system today and will install the electronic boards in his wifes washing machine as soon as they arrve. He already knew what the problem was and had the machine dissasembeled for the repairmen. He explained  the problem to the repairmen and then called sears and said he should be recognized for his expertese in finding the problem. He is a very modest person and has only replaced the belt he bought to attend his mothers funeral in 1997 last week, as the medication for the PTSD caused him to gain 60 lbs. He started eating 800 calories a day until his weight got back to what it normally is. His old belt tells the story and he would just punch another hole in it when he needed to. The hole pattern is over a foot long. He is very humble like the rest of his family and rarely leaves the house except to attend church or bible study. He is going back to work now despite his pain and will probably program machinery over the internet world wide. He has set up a processor and hand held programmer to teach the kids around him to program. And teaches them him using his woodworking experience which was self taught to teach them that also. His daughter has taken in a homeless girl who had no where to go and she is gay and wants to become an electrician. He gave her a complete tool set and will now teach her every thing he knows which will enable her to make over 60 k a year. He is also taking out a loan to buy her a mobile home to give her a home of her own. Can you help him achieve his goals in any way? please reply and let me know. He usually sleeps 3 or 4 hours a night and is not using his computer right now. It's 2: 54 A.M. but he's still working and will probably get up at 3:30 or four if he sleeps at all.  He goes days at a time without sleeping and tonight might be another one as his wife just got up. I'll close for now. Very Respectfully, Anthony Brown

I forgot to add Canada to my map. I also forgot to add the Malachian Straights and a few more.

I am presenly adding to my connections of hiring consultants world wide. I will be posting every thing I can find on the board here. Good luck in your future endevors, Randy

I probably added 10,000,000 jobs to the board today and will try and do the same tommorrow.

   I am Charles R. white. I thought I'd brighten your day a little and send you a copy of this. Like I state in the below your incompetence started in 2009. You managed to missplace two death certificates for my sister who died in 2004. I can't remember the theory, but it was concerning people continuing in their field until they reach their highest point of incompetence. You people finally reached that goal in 2009 when my brother was murdered and you transferred a third of his interest back into my sisters account even though she preceeded him in death by 5 years. Now you are telling my nephew who should have recieved this that he will only recieve around $800. My third has paid me $2,000 and I would advise you that when he recieves a check it had better be at least what I have recieved or I will most definately sue you. Please take my notice on this as of now. I have a degree in another field and also finished the radiology program with over 130 credit hours and a 4.0 GPA. Needless to say I am not incompetent and am more  than capable of going head to head with you any time you're ready. The district judge has granted me the authority to serve as an attourney and I will be more than happy to keep you on eternal hold and mental duress for a very long time, as you've done me over the last three years. In fact I'm looking forward to doing so if you do any less than I mentioned above. I have a very good set of records on my attempts to get you to perform your job in an efficent manner. From what I gather you teransferred my nephews interest into his deceased mothers owner number, lost all records of him being her only son, and now insist on giving 50% of this to her x-husband once again showing you've reached the above mentioned point. If any one of the three patents goes through which are pending now I will never have to work again or any other member of my family as well. I think if you continue in your way of doing things I will dedicate my life to giving you eternal hell. I am also a programmer. Have a wonderfull day and take a moment and reflect on your poor job performance, Charles R. White
p.s. Needless to say I will see to it that all interests my family holds with your company will be placed  elsewhere and you can forget about leasing our mineral rights in Jackson county as well. If you get a little depressed over all of this I have a help line number I can give you and you can reach me at 580-633-2424. I'm ready any time are you?http://www.vvnw.org/find_a_vet/find-a-vet.htm


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Dimitry Esquire

 Remembrance Profiles -  10 Sailors Remembered
  • Davis, Andew, ENS, (1940-1944)
  • Ingram, Ronnie
  • Watson, Stanley, (1970-Present)
  • White, Charles Raymond Whit, PO2
 Photo Album   (More...

  The Home Front
Dec 7, 1941

Last Updated:
Feb 19, 2012

THE homefront. My great aunts and uncles relocaCover: Upper Left: An electric phosphate smelting furnace is used to make elemental phosphorus in a
TVA chemical plant in the vicinity of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. June 1942. Farm Security
Administration/Office of War Information (FSA/OWI) Collection, [LC-USW36-333]. Upper Right: Image
of workers on the Liberator Bombers at Consolidated Aircraft Corporation in Fort Worth, Texas.
October 1942. FSA/OWI Collection, [LC-USW36-384]. Lower Left: Women workers at the Long Beach,
California plant of Douglas Aviation Company groom lines of transparent noses for deadly A-20 attack
bombers. October 1942. FSA/OWI Collection, [LC-USE6-D-006632]. Lower Right: Women workers
install fixtures and assemblies to a tail fuselage section of a B-17F Bomber at the Long Beach, California
plant of the Douglas Aircraft Company. October 1942. FSA/OWI Collection, [LC-USW361-103].
Center: War poster encourages participation in civil defense efforts and shows family prepared for work.
January 21, 1943. Works Project Administration Poster Collection, [LC-USZC2-1107]. All images
courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.
A National Historic Landmarks Theme Study
Prepared by:
Marilyn M. Harper, Project Manager & Historian
Essays prepared by the Organization of American Historians:
John W. Jeffries, Historian
William M. Tuttle, Jr., Historian
Nelson Lichtenstein, Historian
Harvard Sitkoff, Historian
Produced by:
The National Historic Landmarks Program
Cultural Resources
National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior
Washington, D.C.
October 2007
Historic Contexts
Part One: Mobilization and its Impact ............................................................................................9
Part Two: The American Family on the Home Front ...................................................................50
Part Three: Labor and the Working Class in World War II..........................................................80
Part Four: African Americans and Other Minorities on the Home Front ...................................104
Associated Property Types
Types of Historic Home Front Properties....................................................................................128
Registration Requirements for National Historic Landmark Designation...................................129
Methodology ...............................................................................................................................138
Study Results
National Historic Landmarks ......................................................................................................139
National Historic Landmarks Study List .....................................................................................140
Mobilization and its Impact .........................................................................................................149
The American Family on the Home Front...................................................................................152
Labor and the Working Class in World War II............................................................................162
African Americans and Other Minorities on the Home Front .....................................................165
Other Unpublished Sources .........................................................................................................171
A. Registration Requirements for Listing in the National Register of Historic Places ..............173
B. National Register Properties and Study List ..........................................................................182
C. World War II Home Front-Related National Park Service Units ..........................................192
D. World War II Home Front National Historic Landmarks......................................................193
Foreword 1
On October 24, 2000, Congress directed the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a theme study of
the World War II home front.1 The purpose of the study is to identify historic places that best
represent the wartime mobilization that occurred in the United States and its territories and
possessions between 1939 and 1945 to assist in identifying whether any of these places should be
considered for potential inclusion in the National Park System.
The task of identifying places that can tell the home front story is a challenging one. Thousands
of factories, government office buildings, research laboratories, housing projects, military bases,
United Service Organization (USO) canteens, day care centers, and schools were built or
expanded during the war. Theaters in hundreds of communities across the nation sponsored War
Bond drives and showed both terrifying news reels and uplifting and entertaining movies.
Railroad and bus stations in large cities and small towns could barely contain the millions of men
and women passing through them on their way to military service or new defense jobs. Other
places represented less positive wartime stories: segregated housing and military bases, war
relocation centers for persons of Japanese descent, prisons where conscientious objectors were
held, and sites of racial conflict or labor/management confrontation.
Some home front properties have already been recognized. A number are included in the
National Park System. The Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical
Park, in Richmond, California, was established in 2000 specifically to recognize the important
wartime contributions of workers, including women and minorities, and ordinary citizens, who
collected and saved and sacrificed on the home front. Others have been designated as National
Historic Landmarks or listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Because World War II is still so recent, most home front properties have not yet been
comprehensively surveyed or evaluated. In addition, many sites have been lost to demolition or
destructive change, in part because no one knew they were important. While these facts have
made the completion of this theme study more difficult, they have also underlined the urgent
necessity of providing the historic contexts needed to identify and recognize these properties as
quickly as possible.
The historic contexts section is divided into four parts. The first, written by John W. Jeffries,
Professor of History at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, gives a general overview
of the wartime home front, concentrating on the critical role of the federal government in
mobilizing industry, science and technology, agriculture, manpower, money, morale, and
security. It also discusses the impact of mobilization on the nature of the American political
economy, on prosperity and living standards, on opportunities and expectations, on demographic
and geographic change, and on national politics.
The second part was written by William M. Tuttle, Jr., Professor of American Studies at the
University of Kansas. It provides more detail about how ordinary men, women, and children
1 As contained in Public Law 106-352, Sec. 4. WORLD WAR II HOME FRONT STUDY. ?The Secretary shall
conduct a theme study of the World War II home front to determine whether other sites in the United States meet the
criteria for potential inclusion in the National Park System in accordance with section 8 of Public Law 91-383 (16
U.S.C. 1a-5).?
Foreword 2
reacted to sometimes overwhelming population movements, to the absence of fathers and
brothers in the military, to massive, if temporary, changes in women?s roles, and to the
all-pervasive presence of the war in popular culture.
The third part, written by Nelson Lichtenstein, Professor of History at the University of
California, Santa Barbara, discusses the effects of the massive industrial mobilization on working
people, particularly women and African Americans, and the central role of organized labor. This
part also includes the battles for union recognition during the ?defense period? between the
outbreak of the war in Europe in 1939 and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7,
1941; the dramatic growth in union membership during the war; and conflicts among union
leaders, their rank and file, and the government over wages, shop floor issues, and strike policy.
The fourth and last part of the historic contexts section was written by Harvard Sitkoff, Professor
of History at the University of New Hampshire. It deals with the impact of the war on African
Americans and other minorities, most of whom made significant progress in some areas while
suffering continued discrimination, sometimes violent, in other areas.
Inevitably some important subjects, such as population movements and the changing status of
women and African Americans, are covered in more than one of the essays. The perspectives the
scholars bring to these subjects help demonstrate that there are many ways to understand the
complex reality that was the World War II home front.
Introduction 3
At the Teheran Conference in 1943, Josef Stalin commented that ?the most important things in
this war are machines? and that ?the United States . . . is a country of machines.?2 Most
historians agree that World War II was won as surely on the American home front as it was on
the battlefield. In 1939, American preparations for war were far behind those of its enemies,
who had been mobilizing for almost ten years. Four years later, the United States was a
?military super-power,? according to Richard Overy?s comparative study, Why the Allies Won:
American industry provided almost two-thirds of all the Allied military equipment
produced during the war, 297,000 aircraft, 193,000 artillery pieces, 86,000 tanks, two
million army trucks. In four years, American industrial production, already the world?s
largest, doubled in size. The output of the machine-tools to make weapons trebled in
three years. The balance between the U.S. and her enemies changed almost overnight.
For Overy, the ?effective deployment of modern technology, against an enemy forced to fight
with little air cover, few tanks, and dwindling quantities of trucks and guns, made the difference
between victory and defeat.?3
The mobilization began slowly. In December 1940, six months after France fell to the attacking
armies of the Axis powers and a year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the
United States into the war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked America to become the
?arsenal of democracy.? Although U.S. factories turned out fewer than 13,000 aircraft in that
year, Roosevelt called for an annual production of 50,000 planes, a figure some of his economic
planners thought terrifyingly unrealistic. In fact, America produced over 96,000 military and
naval aircraft in the peak year of 1944, exceeding the combined totals for Germany, Japan, and
Britain. In spite of initial confusion, disputes, and delays, American industry had achieved the
?crushing superiority of equipment in any theater of the world war? that the President had asked
for at the beginning of 1942.4
All segments of American society contributed to this stunning achievement. President Roosevelt
spoke the literal truth when he said in July 1943 that: ?Every combat division, every naval task
force, every squadron of fighting planes is dependent for its equipment and ammunition and fuel
and food . . . on the American people in civilian clothes in the offices and in the factories and on
the farms at home.? The most obvious contribution came from the factories. Old armories and
huge military munitions plants and depots built by the government in remote parts of the country
turned out 6 million tons of bombs, 20 million rifles and other small arms, and 41 billion rounds
of ammunition. Navy yards and government-built shipyards produced 1,500 naval vessels, 5,600
merchant ships, and 80,000 landing craft. Privately-owned factories converted from civilian to
military production. The Kellogg Company in Battle Creek, Michigan, turned from making
breakfast cereal to producing millions of K-rations. The Standard Steel Spring Company, in
Pennsylvania, stopped stamping out bumpers for the automakers and converted their equipment
2 Quoted in David M. Kennedy, Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945, vol.
9 of The Oxford History of the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 615.
3 Richard Overy, Why the Allies Won (New York: Norton, 1995), 192, 227.
4 John Rae, Climb to Greatness: The American Aircraft Industry, 1920-1960 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1968),
81,71, cited in Gregory Hooks, Forging the Military-Industrial Complex: World War II?s Battle of the Potomac
(Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991), 136; Alan S. Milward, War, Economy and Society, 1939-1945
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), 67-74; Kennedy, Freedom from Fear, 618, 654-55, 668.
Introduction 4
to the production of armor plate. Henry J. Kaiser, who was soon producing Liberty ships in
record time at his government-built shipyards in Portland, Oregon, and Richmond, California,
was not the only man to produce military equipment with which he had no prior experience.
Kimberley-Clark, in Wisconsin, for instance, converted from Kleenex to machine-gun mounts. 5
After a series of delays and disputes, a synthetic rubber industry was eventually created from
scratch to replace the critical natural rubber supplies cut off by Japanese advances in the South
Pacific. By 1945 America?s automobile industry was producing 20 percent of the country?s
military equipment, including 100,000 tanks and armored vehicles, almost all of the trucks and
jeeps, one-third of the machine guns, and substantial numbers of aircraft and aircraft engines.
On existing assembly lines and in huge new plants constructed by the government, the
automakers used the modern, time saving mass production techniques they had developed for
cars to produce high quality, standardized military equipment.6
But, as FDR said, the contributions of farms and offices were also critical to victory. The
increased output of American farms supplied the needs of the U.S. military and its allies, while
permitting domestic food consumption to increase at the same time. Government offices and
hastily built temporary buildings and dormitories in Washington filled with thousands of men
and women, black and white, who flocked to the city to work in the new wartime ?alphabet
agencies.? Mobilizing the munitions, manpower, and money needed to win a global war against
the Axis Powers entailed giving the federal government unprecedented responsibilities and
authority. The mobilization effort never resolved all of its difficulties or disputes. But by 1943,
according to historian David Kennedy:
The United States had completed its administrative apparatus for managing economic
mobilization, revised its strategic plan and estimates of force requirements, stabilized its
manpower and labor problems, and erected the factories and recruited the workers
necessary to pour out the greatest arsenal of weaponry the world had ever seen.7
Wartime mobilization not only brought the defeat of the Axis abroad but also ended the Great
Depression at home?a dual victory that helps explain why World War II is the ?Good War? for
many Americans.8 In 1939, unemployment still stood at Depression levels, but as mobilization
geared up unemployment went sharply down. Millions of men and women joined the armed
forces, moving to huge, newly constructed and rapidly expanded military bases for training. But
millions more went to work in industry, making good money for the first time since 1929, and
often with many hours of overtime to supplement their regular paychecks. Encouraged by the
government, industrial workers learned new skills, moved to better jobs, and joined the unions in
5 Franklin D. Roosevelt, ?Fireside Chat,? July 28, 1943, quoted in Doris Kearns Goodwin, No Ordinary Time:
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994), 450;
Kennedy, Freedom from Fear, 655; Alan Clive, State of War: Michigan in World War II (Ann Arbor: University of
Michigan Press, 1979), 31; Richard R. Lingeman, Don?t You Know There?s a War On?: The American Home Front
1941-1945 (New York: G. P. Putnams Sons, 1970), 117.
6 Clive, State of War, 27-28, 31; Overy, Why the Allies Won, 195-96; Harold G. Vatter, The U.S. Economy in World
War II (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), 27-28.
7 Kennedy, Freedom from Fear, 655. Unless otherwise indicated, statistical data used in this study are taken from
The Statistical History of the United States from Colonial Times to the Present (Stamford, CT: Fairfield Publishers,
8 On World War II as the ?Good War,? see John W. Jeffries, Wartime America: The World War II Home Front
(Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1996), 3-4, 8-15 passim.
Introduction 5
record numbers. In this industrial ?workers? war,? blue-collar workers achieved new recognition
and status.
Increasing employment brought rising living standards and new opportunities. As production
demands grew and as the armed forces enrolled millions of men, employers (often urged by the
government) increasingly turned to women, African Americans, the elderly, and other groups
with a limited role in the pre-war economy to fill jobs?often jobs with relatively high status and
pay. Women found new employment opportunities in factory work and, to a much greater
extent, in secretarial and clerical jobs. Most of these women left the labor force after the war
was over, voluntarily or involuntarily. Nevertheless, wartime changes in women?s attitudes
about their own capabilities would bear fruit decades after the war was over. African Americans
and other minorities used wartime labor shortages and their own increasing willingness to protest
discriminatory treatment to gain new jobs and higher incomes in defense industries. Many
young men and women, black and white, found opportunities, training, and experience in the
military. And at the end of the war the G.I. Bill provided educational, home-ownership, and
other benefits.
Because the United States devoted only about 40 percent of its Gross National Product to war
production (compared to more than half in Germany and Britain), spending on consumer goods
and services actually increased during the war despite shortages, rationing, inflation, and higher
taxes. Americans could still buy most foodstuffs, clothing, and other non-durable consumer
goods, enjoy rising living standards, and be entertained and diverted by the various
manifestations of American popular culture. Home front Americans also helped the war effort
with bond drives, scrap collections, and a variety of voluntary activities.
Mobilization also brought important geographic and demographic change. Millions of men and
women left rural areas for urban centers. Cities and towns all over the country competed fiercely
for the government-financed industrial installations, military bases, and production contracts that
they saw as a way out of the Depression. While established industrial cities of the Northeast and
Midwest obtained many of these projects, others went to new aircraft, shipbuilding, and other
defense-related industries in the ?Sunbelt? area of the South and West. Many military bases
were also located in Sunbelt states. Millions of war workers, G.I.s, and their families moved
there during the war, many to stay or return after it. Of the ten urban areas identified by the
Census Bureau as most congested as the result of wartime migrations, all but two were located
along the Pacific, Gulf, and South Atlantic coasts.9 Marriage and birth rates surged.
The home front brought less positive developments too. Though most Americans understood the
need for rationing and wage and price control, they were never happy about limits on their own
income, and many bought at least some goods on the wartime black market. In spite of the fact
that the war was widely described as a fight to preserve the family-centered ?American way of
life,? wartime changes put enormous stress on families. One out of every five American families
had one or more members serving in the military. These families waited, and worried, and
honored the 400,000 men and women who did not come back with gold star service flags in their
windows. Servicemen?s wives and women war workers frequently had difficulty finding
appropriate care for their children, particularly those who had moved to new communities.
9 Lingeman, Don?t You Know There?s a War On?, 67-8. The ten areas were Mobile County, AL; the Hampton
Roads area, VA; San Diego County, CA; the Charleston area, SC; Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA; the San Francisco
Bay area, CA; the Puget Sound area, WA: the Los Angeles area, CA; Muskegon County, MI; and the
Detroit/Willow Run area, MI.
Introduction 6
Government and private child care and after school care programs became increasingly popular
and effective as the war progressed, but some children were left unsupervised or forced to stay
out of school to tend their younger siblings. Most children participated eagerly in scrap and
paper drives and enjoyed their wartime cartoons, serials, war games, and radio programs, but
they also endured the anxiety created by school air raid drills, terrifying newsreels and
photographs, and the trauma of ?Daddy?s? departure.
The tides of migration that sent millions of people to new destinations and new opportunities and
helped communities all across the nation recover from the Depression also produced tensions
and sometimes conflict. Industrial workers moving to new jobs in old cities found themselves
and their families living crowded together in dilapidated housing. The families of workers and
servicemen coming to newly created factories and Army bases often were forced to live in
converted garages, trailers, flimsy temporary housing, even former chicken coops. The influx
strained inadequate sewage systems and public transportation. Government programs to provide
new housing were opposed by private builders and by some towns and cities that feared the new
construction would turn into instant slums after the war ended. The government appropriated
funds to help communities disrupted by wartime migrations provide day care services, sewers,
hospitals, garbage collections, law enforcement, fire prevention, and recreation centers, but the
money could not come close to meeting the needs. Old residents feared that newcomers would
erode community standards and raise taxes to pay for additional community services and
Some of the newcomers, particularly African Americans, encountered hostility and prejudice.
Strict segregation was enforced in government housing and the military. In spite of the work of
the government?s Fair Employment Practices Committee and the opposition of most union
leaders, white workers sometimes staged ?hate strikes? to protest the hiring and promotion of
blacks. Some white ethnic groups, themselves often living in crowded conditions, protested
against the location of new government housing for African Americans in ?their? neighborhoods.
In 1943, the country witnessed a series of ugly, often violent, race riots. Even in this war against
Nazi racism, anti-Semitism flared.
The government sometimes adopted policies that curtailed liberties and the flow of information.
In the interests of morale and security the Office of War Information and Office of Censorship
used domestic propaganda and censorship to promote positive images of the United States and to
restrict sensitive information. In the most egregious violation of civil liberties, nearly 120,000
Japanese Americans, two-thirds of them American citizens, were removed from their homes and
incarcerated in bleak, isolated relocation centers for the duration of the war.
Many people remember World War II as a time of national unity, when all Americans worked
together in harmony to defeat fascism. It is true that support for the war was nearly universal,
but ?the country was united . . . on only a single issue?the necessity for victory.?10 The
conflicts and tensions present in American society before the war did not disappear and goals
that seemed important before December 7, 1942, continued to be fought for afterwards. The
?dollar-a-year men? on loan to the government, who encouraged, supported, subsidized, and
sometimes threatened their peacetime employers to ensure that production goals were met, also
perpetuated, and even strengthened, prewar patterns favoring big business. Labor leaders served
on government planning agencies and helped mobilize the industrial manpower necessary for
10 Clive, State of War, 240-41.
Introduction 7
production, but also sought to protect, and even extend, the political gains the unions had made
during the 1930s. They took advantage of the growing labor shortages of the defense period to
force hitherto recalcitrant employers to recognize unions. Once the war began, they fought over
government wage and price controls, which they saw as allowing inflation to erode wage gains.
In 1943, John L. Lewis?s United Mine Workers closed down the coal mines four times over that
issue. Union members worked many hours of overtime, increasing both output and quality, but
also continued to fight to keep the shop-floor ?industrial democracy? promised by the labor
legislation of the 1930s. In spite of the opposition of union leaders, who had pledged not to
strike for the duration of the war, many workers walked off the job in brief ?wildcat? strikes
triggered by continuing, day-to-day conflicts with management over production standards,
grievances, and discipline. Although wartime strikes had little effect on production, they
unleashed a storm of public criticism and led to the passage of the first anti-labor legislation
since the early 1930s.
African Americans saw no inconsistency in their ?Double V? campaign, which sought victory
against the Axis abroad and against unfair treatment at home. They took advantage of the
obvious contradiction between waging a war against fascism and racism outside the United
States while practicing segregation at home, of their new importance to industrial production,
and of the political power they found as they moved into Northern cities to press for an end to
discrimination in communities, in the work place, and in the military. Many whites, inside the
government and out, supported these efforts, as anti-discrimination came to be part of the liberal
The wartime experience both reinforced and accelerated the growth of the modern American
economy of ?countervailing powers?: big government, big business, big labor, and big farming.
Despite cutbacks after the war, the federal government in 1950 still had nearly twice as many
civilian employees as it had in 1940, spent four times as much money, and had greater power.
Big business won the lion?s share of war contracts and enlarged its ties with the military in what
later came to be known as the ?military-industrial complex.? Protected by government policy,
organized labor grew by some 50 percent during the war and had a significant role in
mobilization agencies. Big farmers increased their economic and political power.
Partly because of the war, President Franklin D. Roosevelt won an unprecedented third term in
1940 and then was elected to a fourth in 1944. The Democratic ?Roosevelt? coalition of urban,
ethnic, middle- and working-class voters, and the white South forged in the Great Depression
remained largely intact. But Republican strength at the polls slowly increased, and in Congress a
coalition of Republicans and conservative Democrats that had emerged in the late 1930s rolled
back some New Deal relief measures and stymied any new liberal programs (except for the
bipartisan G.I. Bill, enacted as reward for servicemen rather than as reform).
World War II was a period of large and lasting change in many ways. Many historians see it as a
?watershed? event that made postwar America profoundly different from prewar America.
Prosperity returned and economic policy changed. The nation assumed a new importance in
world affairs. The government grew enormously in size and power. New opportunities came to
women, African Americans, white ethnic groups, and workers. The Sunbelt grew in population
and economic power. But many of these developments continued trends already apparent before
the war. The government had grown significantly in the 1930s. Industry and people had already
been moving toward the Sunbelt, especially California. Changes for women and blacks had long
been underway (and would accelerate after the war). Electoral politics changed only marginally.
Introduction 8
An examination of the World War II American home front and of the impact of mobilization
must thus be sensitive to the interplay, often complicated, between change and continuity.11
11 On World War II as a ?watershed,? see Jeffries, Wartime America, 3-8, 13-15.
Part One: Mobilization and Its Impact 9
This Office of War Information poster shows American soldiers of 1778 and 1943.
Northwestern University Library (http://www.library.northwestern.edu/govinfo/
Part One: Mobilization and Its Impact 10
John W. Jeffries
Mobilizing Industry
Workmen leave the Vought-Sikorsky aircraft plant in Stratford, Connecticut. October 1940. Library of
Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection [LC-USF34-042365-D].
The process of mobilizing the American economy for war began as early as 1939, picked up
sharply in mid-1940 after the Germans overran Western Europe, expanded again after Pearl
Harbor, but did not achieve real efficiency until 1943.1 The challenges were formidable and the
difficulties numerous. Existing manufacturing facilities had to be converted to war production
and often expanded, while new ones had to be built. Raw materials and supplies had to be
acquired and then allocated and delivered efficiently, and production priorities and schedules had
to be established for an often bewildering variety of war and consumer goods. There had to be
sufficient manufacturing and agricultural production not just to meet the needs of the American
military and home front but also to ship needed materials, munitions, and food to the Allies.
Workers had to be found and matched to production needs, while the armed forces needed
millions of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines to fight the war. Policies had to be adopted to
ensure not only adequate production of civilian supplies, but also equitable distribution. Money
had to be acquired to underwrite the enormous costs of mobilization. Wages, prices, and rents
had to be controlled in order to avoid potentially ruinous inflation.2
1 In addition to the other sources cited, this essay draws heavily on Jeffries, Wartime America and relevant material
in John W. Jeffries, ed., Encyclopedia of American History, Vol. 8: 1929-1945 (New York: Facts on File, 2003).
2 For useful overviews of economic mobilization, see: Eliot Janeway, The Struggle for Survival: A Chronicle of
Economic Mobilization in World War II (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951); Vatter, U.S. Economy; Overy,
Why the Allies Won; Richard Polenberg, War and Society: The United States, 1941-1945 (Philadelphia: J.B.
Lippincott, 1972), 5-36; David M. Kennedy, Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War,
1929-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 476-79, 615-68; Jeffries, Wartime America, 16-68.
Part One: Mobilization and Its Impact 11
The American economy in 1939 had enormous productive capacity and, because of the Great
Depression, a large gap between existing and potential production. As a result of the New Deal
implemented in the 1930s to address the problems of the Great Depression, the federal
government had grown in size and power. The Executive Reorganization Act of 1939, which
created a new Executive Office of the President, provided a flexible framework for the creation
of new wartime agencies under President Franklin D. Roosevelt?s direct control. Even so, the
tasks of mobilizing the economy, rationalizing the production and distribution of goods, and
organizing the government were daunting indeed.
A variety of institutional and personal factors complicated the difficulties of mobilization. Down
to Pearl Harbor, crucial parts of the manufacturing sector?the steel and automobile industries
most importantly?proved reluctant to convert to war production, not wanting to forego reviving
civilian production or see competitors take a larger share of the civilian market. Manufacturers
also feared overbuilding for defense production that might leave them with empty factories and
expansion debts once the defense boom was over. (Throughout the era of World War II,
business executives, like other Americans, vividly remembered both the inflation and recession
that followed World War I and the long Depression of the 1930s.) Industry was reluctant in any
case to accept additional government regulation or control.
Constraints and obstacles also existed on the government side. Though larger and more
powerful because of the New Deal, the federal government in 1939 nonetheless lacked the
authority, experience, and expertise to direct economic mobilization efficiently. If businessmen
and conservatives feared additional government power over the economy, many liberals feared
that business and conservatives might dominate mobilization agencies, as they had in World War
I. Anti-interventionists were suspicious of rearmament efforts. President Roosevelt, for all of
his leadership abilities, was often an untidy administrator, constrained down to Pearl Harbor by
political considerations, and reluctant to delegate authority or to invest power to manage
mobilization in a single centralized agency or mobilization ?czar.?
As a result of such circumstances, the early stages of economic mobilization were disorganized,
desultory, and often disheartening.3 In August 1939, on the recommendation of the War
Department, Roosevelt created the War Resources Board (WRB) to assist with industrial
mobilization. Headed by U.S. Steel chairman Edward R. Stettinius and dominated by
businessmen, it was criticized by liberals, while isolationists feared that it was part of an
administration plan to lead the United States into war. Roosevelt quickly withdrew his support
from the WRB, which was defunct by November 1939. However, by then Europe was at war,
and though many liberals and non-interventionists hailed the WRB?s demise, it became clear to
Roosevelt and others that the United States needed to develop mobilization plans. The collapse
of Western Europe in the spring of 1940 made that all the plainer.
In May 1940, Roosevelt used his power under the 1939 Executive Reorganization Act to create
an Office for Emergency Management in the White House and established a National Defense
Advisory Commission (NDAC), which included among its members William S. Knudsen, who
headed General Motors; Sidney Hillman, president of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of
America; and liberal New Deal economist Leon Henderson. The NDAC quickly proved an
unwieldy, inefficient body that lacked clear leadership; when asked ?who is our boss,? Roosevelt
replied ?Well, I guess I am.?4 In January 1941, Roosevelt created the Office of Production
3 Vatter, U.S. Economy, 1-50, is particularly good on the pre-Pearl Harbor ?defense? period.
4 Polenberg, War and Society, 7.
Part One: Mobilization and Its Impact 12
Management (OPM), with Knudsen and Hillman as co-directors. Again, however, Roosevelt
gave little real authority to the OPM or to Knudsen and Hillman.
In 1941, he created two supplementary agencies?the Office of Price Administration and
Civilian Supply (OPACS) under Henderson in April, and the Supply Priorities and Allocations
Board (SPAB) under Sears, Roebuck executive Donald Nelson in August. Intended to resolve
problems of consumer goods and war production, the two new agencies further divided authority
and responsibility for the multifaceted mobilization effort.
Although American defense production began to mount almost inexorably by 1940, government
mobilization efforts made mixed contributions in the early stages, and Roosevelt accomplished
more by exhortation than by effective administration. After the spring 1940 German blitzkrieg,
the President prevailed upon Congress to pass the National Defense Appropriation Act, the real
beginning of the billions that would flow to war production over the next five years. Hoping to
show a bipartisan defense effort, Roosevelt appointed two prominent internationalist
Republicans to key positions in June 1940?Henry L. Stimson as Secretary of War, and Frank
Knox as Secretary of the Navy. Conversion and production proceeded, not so much because of
presidential leadership or government directive, but because of federal subsidy and support. As
Secretary of War Stimson put it, ?If you are going to try to go to war, or to prepare for war, in a
capitalist county, you have got to let business make money out of the process or business won?t
Accordingly, the government from the beginning created a variety of incentives for building,
expanding, and converting factories and for producing war goods. Washington provided lowcost
loans, subsidies, tax write-offs, and generous depreciation rules for corporations expanding
plant capacity as well as ?cost-plus? contracts guaranteeing the cost of production plus a fixed
profit. The Reconstruction Finance Corporation and its subsidiaries, located in the new
Lafayette Building only a few blocks from the White House, invested billions of dollars in
building new factories. The factories were then leased to private corporations at low rates and
often sold to them at bargain prices once the war was over. Firms with post-war losses could be
reimbursed for excess-profits taxes paid during the war. By one estimate, the government
provided some two-thirds of the financing for industrial expansion from 1940 to 1943. And at
the urging of the military and big business, anti-trust policy was curtailed, on the grounds that it
might impair war production.
Such enticements met with some success in eliciting defense production prior to Pearl Harbor,
but it was obvious that economic mobilization policies and processes needed improvement even
before December 7, 1941?and imperative afterwards. Little more than a month after American
entry into the war, Roosevelt created the War Production Board (WPB) under Donald Nelson to
replace the OPM and to oversee conversion to war production and coordinate material and
production priorities. By July 1942, the agency had become an ?administrative giant,? its 18,000
employees occupying most of a newly completed building in Washington intended for the Social
Security Administration but taken over by a variety of wartime ?alphabet agencies? even before
it was completed. But the WPB lacked authority over manpower; such severe problem areas as
rubber and petroleum were given to independent ?czars? beyond Nelson?s control; and Nelson?s
own lack of decisive leadership hurt the agency. Perhaps most important, the military continued
to award contracts without adequately considering available supplies of raw materials,
5 Kennedy, Freedom from Fear, 622.
Part One: Mobilization and Its Impact 13
manpower, and productive facilities. Though production continued to mount, it did so despite
confusion, disputes, competing priorities, and snarls in allocation and output.6
Finally in 1943, the administration achieved some order and efficiency in the mobilization effort.
A Controlled Materials Plan was implemented, giving the WPB authority over material
allocation and production schedules though leaving contract allocation in the hands of the Army
and the Navy. In May 1943, Roosevelt established the Office of War Mobilization (OWM),
headed by James F. Byrnes, a former senator from South Carolina and Supreme Court justice,
with the WPB and other agencies falling under the OWM?s large umbrella. Roosevelt gave
Byrnes and the OWM considerable authority to control and coordinate the mobilization effort.
Byrnes, who set up office in the White House, soon became known as the ?assistant president.?
Though problems remained, Byrnes had sufficient prestige and power to make OWM an
effective agency, and the long four-year quest for order and efficiency was largely achieved.7
The mobilization agencies always fell well short of regulating and controlling business to the
extent that liberals wished. Subsidies and other direct assistance to business continued
throughout the mobilization and later during reconversion. Partly because there were too few
expert, experienced bureaucrats to manage mobilization, businessmen?the ?dollar-a-year men?
who remained on corporate payrolls while accepting a token government salary?staffed and
often ran the mobilization agencies. OWM chief Byrnes was sympathetic to business, as were
key War Department and Navy Department officials.8
Not only did conservative, business, and business-minded officials direct the mobilization
agencies, but the process of contract allocation favored big business. It was imperative to ensure
quick, high-quality production of huge quantities of essential war goods, and it made sense to
award contracts to big firms with a demonstrated capacity to meet such requirements. Moreover,
the dollar-a-year men?lawyers, financiers, and executives from the nation?s big firms?turned
naturally to businesses and officials with whom they were used to working. As a consequence,
more than half of the $175 billion in prime war contracts awarded from 1940 to 1944 went to just
33 firms, which were reluctant to subcontract to smaller ones. As Under Secretary of War
Robert P. Patterson put it, ?we had to take industrial America as we found it?9?which meant
reinforcing and often augmenting the domination of big business. The military, wanting
adequate production and becoming increasingly comfortable working with big business,
supported such policies. The military-industrial complex that President Dwight D. Eisenhower
warned about in 1961 owed much to the mobilization effort of World War II.10
The history of the famous ?Jeep? is a good example of how the system worked. The Bantam Car
Company in Butler, Pennsylvania, developed the initial prototype of a small, versatile light truck
for the Army in 1940. Bantam and Willys-Overland, two companies in Toledo, Ohio, and Ford
competed for the first production contract and the Willys model won. Willys, with the later
6 On Nelson and the WPB, see also Donald M. Nelson, Arsenal of Democracy: The Story of American War
Production (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1946).
7 In 1944, the OWM became the Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion (OWMR), still under Byrnes. On
both agencies, see Herman Miles Somers, Presidential Agency: OWMR, The Office of War Mobilization and
Reconversion (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1950).
8 For a critical account of the role and influence of businessmen in the war agencies, see Bruce Catton, The War
Lords of Washington (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1948).
9 Polenberg, War and Society, 219.
10 Paul A. C. Koistinen, The Military-Industrial Complex: A Historical Perspective (New York: Praeger, 1980);
Hooks, Forging the Military-Industrial Complex.
Part One: Mobilization and Its Impact 14
assistance of Ford, eventually produced over 700,000 of the little vehicles. Bantam, a small
company, charged that the contract process unfairly favored Willys and Ford, the large
producers. The government maintained that the contract went to the lowest bidders and to the
companies most likely to be able to handle high volume production.11
Big business and the military cooperated in shaping reconversion as well as mobilization policy.
As the tides of war shifted clearly toward the Allies in 1943, liberals wanted to plan for and
implement an early and incremental transition to peacetime production to help small businesses
and workers as war production needs diminished. But big defense contractors did not want
potential peacetime competitors getting a jump on the civilian market, while the armed forces
wanted no curtailment of military production. In what became known as ?the war within a war?
from 1943 to 1945, not only was reconversion delayed, but war contractors got generous contract
termination policies and often were able to buy ?surplus? government-owned and
government-financed plants at low cost. Thus, while the reconversion policy worked to the
benefit of mainly big business, liberals and labor complained that it provided little assistance to
newly unemployed defense workers and ignored the ?human side of reconversion.?12
But if the mobilization agencies took industrial America much as they had found it (and indeed
left business power even more concentrated than it had been before the war), they did play an
important role in encouraging new industries in such areas as aircraft and electronics and in
developing Sunbelt regions of the West and South.13 The federal government invested tens of
billions of dollars in the West, accounting for some 90 percent of the region?s new investment
capital during the war. From Boeing Aircraft?s enormous Plant No. 2 in Seattle to the huge
Kaiser shipyards in Portland and the San Francisco Bay area, from North American Aviation and
Douglas at the new Los Angeles Municipal Airport to the Consolidated Vultee Aircraft plant on
the San Diego waterfront, West Coast aircraft and shipbuilding thrived. The region accounted
for about half of all ships and airplanes produced in the United States from 1941 to 1945. The
new wind tunnels built by the California Institute of Technology and by the federal government?s
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, and other science and technology defense-related
enterprises, also received important government funds. The money flowing to the West Coast
reinforced developments underway prior to the war?but wartime spending (on military bases as
well) played a major role in the region?s wartime and postwar development.14
Federal money perhaps played an even more important role in the South, identified as the
nation?s ?number one? economic problem by Roosevelt and others in the 1930s. The Southern
shipbuilding industry, which accounted for about one-fourth of the nation?s wartime ship
production, prospered along the Atlantic Coast from the Navy yards in Charleston and Norfolk to
Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and Alabama Drydock and Shipping in Mobile.
In New Orleans, Andrew Jackson Higgins built PT boats and landing craft for the Navy, in
11 For details, see Herbert R. Rifkind, The Jeep: Its Development and Procurement Under the Quartermaster Corps,
1940-42 (Washington, D.C.: Historical Section, Office of the Quartermaster General, 1943).
12 Polenberg, War and Society, 215-37; Vatter, U.S. Economy, 61-66, 83-88; Jack W. Petalson, ?The Reconversion
Controversy,? in Herbert Stein, ed., Public Administration and Policy Development (New York: Harcourt, Brace,
1952), 215-83.
13 Jeffries, Wartime America, 73-81.
14 For the impact of the war on the West, see: Gerald D. Nash, The Crucial Era: The Great Depression and World
War II, 1929-1945, 2nd ed. (New York: St. Martin?s Press, 1992), 162-66; Gerald D. Nash, The American West
Transformed: The Impact of the Second World War (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985); Marilynn S.
Johnson, The Second Gold Rush: Oakland and the East Bay in World War II (Berkeley: University of California
Press, 1993), 18; articles on ?Fortress California at War,? Pacific Historical Review 63 (August 1994).
Part One: Mobilization and Its Impact 15
addition to doing top-secret work for the Manhattan Project. The Defense Plant Corporation
built huge new factories for Consolidated Vultee at Fort Worth and for Bell Aircraft at Marietta,
Georgia. The industries of Birmingham steel, Kentucky and West Virginia mining, and Gulf
Coast petroleum also prospered because of war spending and production. About half of the vital
synthetic rubber produced during the war came from the Gulf area. Industrial employment grew
by roughly three-fourths in the wartime South and, as in the West, military bases added to the
wartime economic invigoration.15
The rapid economic development and large-scale defense production in the South and West
complemented expanding war production in the older urban-industrial quadrant of the Northeast
and the Midwest: new construction and conversions in Detroit?s auto industry, the world?s
largest factory built to produce aircraft engines in Chicago, steel in Gary, coal in Pennsylvania,
machine tools in Providence, aircraft on Long Island, and shipbuilding in Maine, Massachusetts,
and New York. Conversion of existing plants sometimes came slowly and production problems
arose from the manufacturing facilities themselves as well as from the shortcomings of the
government agencies. But by 1943, both problems were being ironed out and production totals
The growth in output placed an enormous burden on the nation?s railroads. At the beginning of
the war, the railroads had 25 percent fewer freight cars, 30 percent fewer passenger cars, and 32
percent fewer locomotives than they had during World War I. Nevertheless, in 1944, the railroad
system carried almost twice as much intercity freight as it had in 1940. This included the
significant share of the nation?s wartime production that went overseas to Britain, the Soviet
Union, and other U.S. allies under the Lend-Lease program.16
While estimates of final totals vary, the ?miracles of production? on the American home front
produced some 300,000 aircraft, 100,000 tanks and armored vehicles, 80,000 landing craft, 5,600
merchant ships and 1,500 Navy ships, 20 million small arms, 41 billion rounds of ammunition,
and 6 million tons of bombs, including the atomic bombs that ended World War II in August
1945. The Gross National Product more than doubled between 1939 and 1945, going from $91.1
billion to $213.6 billion (using ?constant? 1929 dollars to correct for inflation, GNP went from
$111 billion to $180.9 billion). At the end of the war, half of the world?s manufacturing capacity
and two-thirds of its gold stocks were located in the United States. As Winston Churchill said,
America stood ?at the summit of the world.?17
15 For the impact of the war on the South, see: Nash, Crucial Era, 156-62; Numan V. Bartley, The New South,
1945-1980 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1995), 1-37; George B. Tindall, The Emergence of the
New South (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1967); Morton Sosna, ?More Important than the Civil
War? The Impact of World War II on the South,? Perspectives on the American South 4 (1987): 145-61; Pete
Daniel, ?Going Among Strangers: Southern Reactions to World War II,? Journal of American History 77
(December 1990): 886-911.
16 Vatter, U.S. Economy, 21; Paul D. Casdorph, Let the Good Times Roll: Life at Home during World War II (New
York: Paragon House, 1989), 119.
17 Vatter, U.S. Economy, 20; David Cannadine, ed., Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat: The Speeches of Winston
Churchill (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1989), 282, quoted in Kennedy, Freedom from Fear, 856-57.
Part One: Mobilization and Its Impact 16
Mobilizing Science and Technology
Workers at the Boeing Aircraft Plant in Seattle produced B-17F (Flying
Fortress) fuselage sections. December 1942. Library of Congress, Prints &
Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection [LC-USW3-041070-E].
The sheer quantity of American production was critical, but its quality also helped win the war.
Both traditional manufacturing processes and new departures in science, technology, and
fabrication were key to the victory. As with quantity, the quality of the American output got off
to a somewhat shaky start. American fighter aircraft at first were not the equal of Japanese
planes in the Pacific. American tanks were never a one-on-one match for German tanks. Early
troubles existed with torpedoes and other equipment and new technologies and weapon systems
were sometimes slow in developing. But by the middle of the war, qualitative as well as
quantitative problems were being solved, and science and technology were enabling
breakthroughs essential to the American war machine. Basic science, applied technologies, and
improved fabrication methods all played major roles.
In this area, too, civilian government agencies worked closely with industry and the military, and
also with universities?developing what might be called the military-industrial-scientificacademic
complex. As part of the pre-Pearl Harbor defense mobilization effort, Roosevelt in
June 1940 established the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC), led by Vannevar
Bush, head of the Carnegie Institution of Washington and a former vice president and dean at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In May 1941, Roosevelt created the Office of Scientific
Research and Development (OSRD), also under Bush, which included medicine as well as war
production under its aegis. The OSRD?s many projects led to critical innovations in such areas
Part One: Mobilization and Its Impact 17
as atomic energy, radar, the proximity fuse, large-scale production of penicillin, whole-blood
substitutes, new pesticides (important for both combating malaria-carrying mosquitoes in the
Pacific and for increasing crop production at home), amphibious vehicles, and radio-inertial
navigation. The Carnegie?s handsome 1903 Beaux-Arts headquarters building on 16th Street in
Washington was soon subdivided into a warren of offices to handle the volume of work, which
eventually spilled out to other locations as well. The OSRD and its coordination of university
scientists with the military and government provided the foundation for the postwar mobilization
of science and technology in the Cold War.18
Perhaps the best-known such effort was the one that produced the atomic bomb. What was
initially called the ?uranium project? was transferred from the OSRD to the U.S. Army?s Corps
of Engineers Manhattan Engineer District in the summer of 1942. Under the leadership of
General Leslie Groves, the Manhattan Project built and operated more than three dozen facilities
in the U.S. and Canada, employed an estimated 150,000 people, and spent some $2 billion. It
created new top-secret cities at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where a specific isotope of uranium was
purified and extracted; at Hanford, Washington, where plutonium was extracted; and at Los
Alamos, New Mexico, where physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer coordinated the work of
thousands of scientists and engineers working on bomb design.19
A less known, but also large and important effort, involved the manufacture of synthetic rubber.
The Japanese domination of Southeast Asia cut off an estimated 90 percent of the U.S. crude
rubber supply and portended a serious shortage of rubber?a key component in a variety of war
and war-related goods. After a typically fumbling start, involving rationing as well as conflicts
between those advocating the use of grain alcohol and those championing petroleum as a raw
material, the synthetic rubber effort was given to William Jeffers late in 1942. Ultimately both
production techniques were used and the government spent some $700 million to build 51 plants
that private rubber companies leased and operated. Over $17 million was invested in
constructing a huge facility at Institute, West Virginia. Operated by Carbide and Carbon
Chemicals (a subsidiary of Union Carbide) and U.S. Rubber, the plant eventually covered 77
acres and was the only synthetic rubber plant in the country to produce both raw materials and
finished rubber. By 1944, synthetic rubber production increased from a woefully small 8,000
tons in 1942 to over 750,000 tons?close to 90 percent of what was used.20
As in the case of rubber, turning out essential war goods was a matter of new production
technologies and techniques as well as basic science. In shipbuilding, for example, both Henry J.
Kaiser and Andrew Jackson Higgins used new mass-production techniques.21 Kaiser was
especially impressive in this regard. In 1941, it had taken East Coast shipyards about a year to
build the 10,000-ton Liberty Ships so vital to wartime transport. By 1942, Kaiser?s shipyards in
Portland, Oregon, and Richmond, California, had reduced production time to two months and in
18 G. Pascal Zachary, Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century (New York: Free Press,
1997); Carroll W. Pursell, ?Science Agencies in World War II: The OSRD and Its Challengers,? in Nathan
Reingold, ed., The Sciences in the American Context: New Perspectives (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution
Press, 1979).
19 Richard Rhodes, The Making of the Atomic Bomb (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986).
20 Allan M. Winkler, Home Front U.S.A.: America during World War II, 2nd ed. (Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson,
2000), 11-12; William M. Tuttle, Jr., ?The Birth of an Industry: The Synthetic Rubber ?Mess? in World War II,?
Technology and Culture 22 (1981): Vatter, U.S. Economy, 28-29.
21 John Morton Blum, V Was for Victory: Politics and American Culture During World War II (New York: Harcourt
Brace Jovanovich, 1976), 110-16.
Part One: Mobilization and Its Impact 18
1944 could build a Liberty Ship in two weeks.22 In all, American productivity rose by an
estimated 25 percent during the war, the result to a significant degree of new technologies and
production methods, though management practices and worker commitment also played a role.23
Wartime science, technology, and medicine also underwrote postwar developments in
computers, electronics, aviation and aerospace, synthetic materials, and medicine. The use of
huge electronic computers based on vacuum tubes in such areas as code-breaking, ballistics, and
the Manhattan Project contributed to their rapid postwar development. Wartime communications
needs spurred development of related electronics technologies. The first American jet-powered
planes were developed and tested by Bell Aircraft and Lockheed during the war. The
mobilization effort galvanized plastics and other new materials. The war also sped the
development and application of new diagnostic techniques in medicine and new developments in
pharmaceuticals and in treating injuries and wounds. Some of the new planning and construction
techniques developed to build thousands of houses and apartments for defense workers became
standard practice after the war. It took Collier?s 1945 Year Book nearly eight columns just to list
chemical innovations engendered or redirected by the war.24
Mobilizing Agriculture
Producing the goods to defeat the Axis, supply the Allies, and provision home front Americans
involved both agriculture and industry.25 Here too, new technologies, production techniques, and
government mobilization efforts were important, all the more because output had to be sustained
and increased even as the armed forces and industry siphoned off farm workers. As in the
industrial sector, there was considerable excess capacity prior to the war that facilitated wartime
expansion. By 1940, production had already risen so much that Chester Davis, the defense
commissioner for agriculture, said that some five million low-income people in farming should
leave agriculture for the defense industry.26 Ultimately, the farm population did decline by some
six million people during the war even as agricultural production increased and prosperity
returned to rural America.
Agricultural employment fell by one million during the war, and might have fallen further had
not Congress in 1942 authorized military deferments for agricultural workers. The powerful
congressional ?farm bloc? of Democrats and Republicans from agricultural areas also ensured
that farmers were relieved of some of the restraints of wartime price controls. Government also
aided agriculture. Because agricultural products fed not only home front Americans but also
G.I.s and Britons, Russians, and Chinese through the Lend-Lease program, the government
became the largest purchaser of food products.
In late 1942, oversight of food production and allocation was given to the Agriculture
Department, which in 1943 established the War Food Administration to coordinate food
production and distribution, including purchasing food for the Lend-Lease program. But this
long-established Cabinet department had to share responsibility with a number of newly-created,
22 On Kaiser, see Stephen B. Adams, Mr. Kaiser Goes to Washington: The Rise of a Government Entrepreneur
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997); Johnson, The Second Gold Rush.
23 Vatter, U.S. Economy, 18.
24 Ibid., 146-47; D. Clayton James and Anne Sharp Wells, From Pearl Harbor to V-J Day: The American Armed
Forces in World War II (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1995), 22, 195-96.
25 On agriculture, see Walter Wilcox, The Farmer in the Second World War (Ames: Iowa State College Press,
1947); Vatter, U.S. Economy, 48-55 passim.
26 Vatter, U.S. Economy, 51.
Part One: Mobilization and Its Impact 19
overlapping, and changing war agencies. The War Production Board was given authority over
materials needed for farm production and food processing. The Selective Service System, War
Manpower Commission, and National War Labor Board all played some role with respect to
farm labor. The Office of Price Administration affected farm prices, while the Board of
Economic Warfare granted export licenses for agricultural products. As in the industrial sector,
interagency overlap and chafing waned during the course of the war, though it never
Overall agricultural production increased by 17 percent from 1940 to 1944. Between 1940 and
1943, production of livestock and related products grew by 28 percent; between 1940 and 1944,
crop production increased by 14 percent. Much of this went to the home front. Despite
shortages and rationing of some items, personal consumption expenditures on food and
beverages rose from $19.2 billion to $41.6 billion from 1939 to 1945. Even allowing for
inflation, this was a significant surge that contributed to the rising living standards on the
American home front.
Increased production despite declining agricultural employment came because of the boost that
technology gave to productivity. By one measure, productivity per farm worker rose by 36
percent from 1940 to 1945. Farmers increasingly used machinery and mechanical or electrical
power instead of human or animal labor. The number of tractors working on the farms grew
from a little over 1.5 million to about 2.4 million in 1945, as horses and mules disappeared at
record rates. The war sped the use of the mechanical cotton picker in the Mississippi Delta, a
development crucial to the large postwar African American migration from the Delta northward
to Chicago and elsewhere. The use of commercial fertilizer rose by 60 percent and new or
improved pesticides and pest control, seeds, breeding techniques, and conservation helped
increase output.27
The decrease in farm labor and the increased application of technology and machinery
contributed to the growing size and power of big, commercial farmers. The number of farms and
farmers declined, while the average size and value of farms increased. Although much of the
wartime change continued long term trends of depopulation, mechanization, farm technology,
and concentration, many agricultural historians maintain that the war years triggered the ?second
American agricultural revolution.?
Mobilizing Manpower
Meeting the nation?s production needs and the requirements of the armed forces required major
efforts in mobilizing man and womanpower during the war. It also required a significant
expansion of the role of the federal government; first in conscripting men for the military and
then in ensuring adequate labor supply and allocation on the home front. Mobilizing manpower
was at first made easier by the enormous slack in the American economy in 1939. As the armed
forces and

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