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Rationing in World War II


In 1942, just months after the United States entered World War II, the government instituted rationing. Channeling basic resources to the US military meant that citizens at home had to cut down on their own consumption. The Office of Price Administration, established to oversee rationing, figured allotments for each individual and issued ration books. A massive propaganda blitz began — to convince citizens of their patriotic duty to do with less, reuse items, and turn in scrap metals for the war effort. Primary sources such as ration books, propaganda posters, transcripts of humorous radio spots, rationing recipes, an article on dining out, and items like coupons for special shoes and typewriter rentals, will involve students not only in the burdens Americans faced but also the sense of community that was fostered during this era. Historian: Rebecca A. Spears. The contents of this Focus Jackdaw feature:

Support Materials

  • Illustrated Broadsheet Essay
  • Timeline
  • Critical Thinking Questions
  • Recommended Reading List

Historical Documents

  • “What Uncle Sam Asks of You: General Orders for the Home Front,” Office of War Information and the State Defense Council of Florida
  • Poster: ration certificates and coupons
  • Ration books
  • “New York Still Paradise for Gourmet Despite Rationing,” New York Herald Tribune, Sunday July 11, 1943
  • U.S. Office of War Information poster: “Do With Less So They’ll Have Enough,”
  • U.S. Office of War Information poster: “Stamp Out Black Markets”
  • Transcripts of humorous radio spots on rationing
  • Collection of “rationing” recipes

Price: $36.50



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