World War II
The U.S. Home Front
Even though the fighting in World War II was all the way across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the war changed the lives of everyone in America. The war effort in the United State was often called the home front.
I want you for U.S. Army
by James Montgomery Flagg
Because of the war, many products were in short supply. Metal had to be used to make tanks and battle ships. Medicine was needed for the battlefields. Also, some products were hard to get as they came from countries that were at war. Rubber for tires was especially difficult to get because much of it was imported from Southeast Asia.
By the end of the war, many products were rationed. Each family would get ration stamps allowing them to buy a certain amount of a type of product. Products rationed included tires, automobiles, sugar, gasoline, meat, butter, and coal.
Women go to work
When World War II began in 1939 there were around 190,000 men in the US Army. By the time the war ended in 1945, there were over 10 million. On top of this, factories in the US were at full capacity making arms, tanks, ships, and vehicles for the war. There was a shortage of workers.
Source: National Archives
To fill the gap and help build supplies for the war, many women went to work. They took on tough physical labor jobs that previously had been done mostly by men. Women who went to work in factories were nicknamed Rosie the Riveter. They played a major role in keeping the factories running smoothly and producing much needed planes, tanks, and other arms for the war.
A boy turning in his ration card
Source: National Archives
At the time of the war there were many citizens of the United States of Japanese descent. After Pearl Harbor, many people didn't trust them and were worried that they would help Japan to invade America. In 1942 President Roosevelt signed a bill that ordered Japanese Americans to go to internment camps. These camps were almost like prisons. They were guarded by soldiers and surrounded by barbed wire.
Around 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced into the internment camps. They had to leave their homes, shops, and jobs. Many lost their homes and most of their possessions. In 1988 President Ronald Reagan signed a bill that gave reparations of $20,000 to the survivors. In 1989 President George H.W. Bush gave a formal apology.
Entertainment and Propaganda
The US government knew that Americans must stay united in the war effort in order to win the war. They created all sorts of posters that showed patriotism and ways that people could help with the war effort from home. There were also lots of wartime movies showing how brave the soldiers were and how evil Hitler and the enemy was. All movie scripts had to be approved by the government.
Many celebrities fought in the war. Baseball players such as Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams enlisted and fought. Also movie stars such as Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable joined the army. At one point the commissioner of Major League Baseball wrote a letter to President Roosevelt asking if professional baseball should continue during the war. Roosevelt responded that they should keep playing baseball because it was good for the country's moral.
- Factories in the United States built over 80,000 tanks, 300,000 military planes, 2 million trucks, and millions of rifles and machine guns.
- The Allied countries produced significantly more military weapons, vehicles, and aircraft than the Axis countries.
- The United States supplied its Allies with as much as half of their military weapons and arms. This was a boon to the US economy and helped bring an end to the Great Depression.
Take a ten question quiz at the US Home Front questions page.
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History >> World War 2 for Kids