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Helps For Homemakers Booklet, ca. 1943–1945

CONTENT WARNING

Materials in the Library of Virginia’s collections contain historical terms, phrases, and images that are offensive to modern readers. These include demeaning and dehumanizing references to race, ethnicity, and nationality; enslaved or free status; physical and mental ability; and gender and sexual orientation. 

Context

During World War II booklets were published to assist homemakers, who were mostly women at that time, provide for their families and meet the requirements of the wartime ration system created after the U.S. entered the war in December 1941. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive order 8875 established the Office of Price Administration (OPA) on August 28, 1942. The OPA regulated the prices of most goods and limited the amount  available for purchase across the country. 

Goods such as gasoline, tires, coal, sugar, coffee, meat, dairy, silk, and shoes were rationed as they were needed for the war effort and because trade was disrupted by the war, making some items less available. The government allotted “points” to each person, including infants, in the form of stamps that could be used along with money to purchase rationed items. By the end of 1945, sugar was the only remaining product still rationed. The wartime rationing program ended in June 1947 as products became more readily available.

Many companies, like the Kelvinator Appliance Company, printed materials to help homemakers make the most of what was available within the wartime ration point system. As this image depicts, meat was in short supply and rabbit could be used as a substitute in a variety of recipes. Other suggestions in these publications might offer tips on stretching sugar rations, including substituting corn syrup or honey, and how to make one-crust pies rather than two-crust pies. Publications like those put out by Kelvinator would have been available in Virginia and homemakers across the state could have used them to find solutions to provide for their families.


Citation: A suggested means of saving ration points—using rabbit for the meat dish. From a “Helps for Homemakers” booklet produced by Kelvinator ca. 1943–1945. Jessee Family Papers, Accession 50402, Library of Virginia. 

Standards

Social Studies: USII.7, USII.8 USII.9, CE.9 CE.14, VUS.12, VUS.13, GOVT.9 GOVT.16
Art: 4.1, 5.1

Suggested Questions

Preview Activity

Take a Look: Look at the image. What stands out to you? What do you think the image represents? 

Post Activities

Current Connections: During the coronavirus pandemic many household items such as cleaning products and toilet paper were in short supply. What are some ways people saved resources while providing necessary items for themselves or their families?

Up for Debate: How do you think women of today's generation would feel about a booklet such as this one? Would it be considered helpful? Insulting? Prepare an opening argument in which you state your position and be prepared to share it with the class or in small groups.

Art Exploration: Design a similar handbook page that might be used today if a rationing system were to become needed. Select a food product to be used as the basis for your design.