Wessels Living History Farm - York Nebraska Farming in the 1940s
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The Home Front

  Air Raid Precautions  
In April, 1942, FDR addressed the nation and called everyone to action. "One front and one battle where everyone in the United States – every man, woman and child is in action. That front is right here at home, in our daily lives."

Everyone was called on to "Do Your Part." They were encouraged to defend the country and support the war effort. There were lots of ways to be involved in the war effort.

  • Everyone seemed afraid of the possibility of invasion. Even the hometown newspaper in York, Nebraska – over 1,200 miles away from either coast – ran an article about what to do in case of an air raid.
  • Civil defense efforts were organized. Students and adults were taught to identify the outlines of friendly and enemy airplanes and patrolled the skies, especially on the coasts. Blackout drills were organized where entire cities and towns covered their windows and doused the lights on their cars.
  • "Loose lips sink ships." There was a deep paranoia about spies in the U.S. Posters appeared all over encouraging people not to talk about ships sailing or airplanes taking off.
  • Farmers were expected to increase food production despite the fact that there were fewer farm workers available. Food and other basic commodities were needed to support the troops and allied populations in Europe, so they were rationed at home.
  • Video InterviewUrban residents were encouraged to plant "Victory Gardens" and raise their own food supply.
  • The newspapers were full of news from the frontlines of the battles. Kelly Holthus remembers being a 10 year old who read reports from Ernie Pyle every day and kept maps with the battle lines drawn on them. The papers also hammered home what civilians could do on the home front.
  • People were encouraged to write letters often to the service men and women who were overseas. These messages from home were important in keeping up morale.
  • The publishers of dress patterns modified their designs so that they used half of the fabric they might have before the war.

Everything was conserved and redirected to the war effort.

Written by Claudia Reinhardt and Bill Ganzel, the Ganzel Group. A partial bibliography of sources is here.


 

Pop Culture Goes to War

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