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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 States was often called the home front.

I Want You Recruitment sign
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.

WW2 rationing line
Sugar rationing
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.

World War II rationing
A boy turning in his ration card
Source: National Archives

Japanese Americans

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.

Interesting Facts

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  • Learn More about World War II:

    World War II Timeline
    Allied Powers and Leaders
    Axis Powers and Leaders
    Causes of WW2
    War in Europe
    War in the Pacific
    After the War

    Battle of Britain
    Battle of the Atlantic
    Pearl Harbor
    Battle of Stalingrad
    D-Day (Invasion of Normandy)
    Battle of the Bulge
    Battle of Berlin
    Battle of Midway
    Battle of Guadalcanal
    Battle of Iwo Jima

    The Holocaust
    Japanese Internment Camps
    Bataan Death March
    Fireside Chats
    Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Atomic Bomb)
    War Crimes Trials
    Recovery and the Marshall Plan
    Winston Churchill
    Charles de Gaulle
    Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Harry S. Truman
    Dwight D. Eisenhower
    Douglas MacArthur
    George Patton
    Adolf Hitler
    Joseph Stalin
    Benito Mussolini
    Anne Frank
    Eleanor Roosevelt

    The US Home Front
    Women of World War II
    African Americans in WW2
    Spies and Secret Agents
    Aircraft Carriers
    World War II Glossary and Terms

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    History >> World War 2 for Kids

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