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Archive for '- World War I'

Patriotic posters and the debt ceiling

World War I Liberty Loan poster, ARC 512633

As the calendar turns to August and the summer heat sets in, no topic is hotter than the debt ceiling.

Congress has voted to increase the debt limit more than 100 times since it was first established. How did this get started? Part of the answer is in these nearly century-old posters.

To raise money for the costs of World War I, the Federal Government began issuing war bonds. When the first round was not as successful as hoped, artists were commissioned to make more compelling posters, and famous actors encouraged citizens to buy them. Purchasing war bonds came to be seen as a patriotic duty, and several more sets were issued during the war.

With the passage of the Second Liberty Bond Act in 1917, the Department of the Treasury began issuing long-term bonds in order to minimize the government’s interest costs. As a means of managing these new obligations, the legislation enacted a statutory limit on federal debt.

Liberty Loan poster, ARC 512718

Legislation passed over the next two decades created similar limits for other types of government-issued debt, including the bills and the notes issued by the Treasury.

By 1939, Congress eliminated these separate limits and established one aggregate debt limit. The nation’s cumulative debt at the time was $40.4 billion, approximately 10% below the … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: Make a date with Uncle Sam

A Wolrd War II recruitment post (ARC 513664)

Perhaps the most famous goatee in all of America belongs to Uncle Sam, the white-haired patriot who appeared in political cartoons in the late 1890s, on recruitment posters in both World Wars, and continues to appear on all kinds of products today.

And while facial hair fashions have changed drastically through the years since the Civil War, Uncle Sam’s long white goatee remains the same over the decades. Even in World War II, when clean-shaven faces were all the rage for GIs, this young woman was not deterred from a date with Uncle Sam and his flowing chin hair.

Whether you sport a chip-strap beard, a curly mustache, or a goatee, have a wonderful Fourth of July! If you are in Washington, DC, join us for a celebration on the steps of the National Archives Building to hear the Declaration of Independence read by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Ned Hector. Then come inside and see the original!

Happy Birthday, Uncle Sam!… [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesdays: A dozen dont’s of gardening

A "city farmer" tends his vegetables in the Fenway Gardens administered by the Fenway Civic Associations....the association has 600 members who cultivate a total of 425 garden plots in these five acres, 08/1973 (412-DA-8279; ARC 550764)

Feeling the urge to plant a vegetable garden? 

During World War I and World War II, citizens were encouraged to plant victory gardens as part of the war effort so that more food could be sent overseas to the troops. Even the White House had a Victory Garden at the urging of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Because many of these Victory Gardeners were city-dwellers, the government created posters, fliers, and handbooks to help these citizens make good use of their patches of soil.

Gardening clearly takes more than just common sense. In the Victory Garden Leader’s Handbook (below), a comic strip gives a dozen examples of problems that neophytes might encounter!

New gardeners were encouraged to plan ahead, but not start too soon, pick a good location, consider crop height, and not to waste soil or seed.

Despite these challenges, by 1945  about 40% of the nation’s vegetables came from these gardens.

In Boston, some of the 49 acres used as Victory Gardens across the city survived in the Fenway area as the Richard D. Parker Memorial Victory Gardens, which are still in use today.

The National Archives in Seattle found these tips in a Victory Garden Leader’s [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Pull out that sweet tooth!

This poster, created by the U.S. Food Administration, reminded citizens that their consumption of sugar drew resources away from the war (ARC 512526, ca. 1917-ca. 1919).

To celebrate our new exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” we are featuring a food-related blog post every Wednesday. Today’s post comes to us from the National Archives at New York City.

“Do you know that the money spent in the United States for candy in one year is double the amount required to feed Belgium for one year?” This statement is not from a modern anti-obesity polemic, but rather from the World War I pamphlet A Sugar Program: Household Conservation Policy to Meet the Sugar Situation for the Summer of 1918.

Why was there a sugar situation? When the United States entered World War I, ships were needed to transport soldiers and supplies across the ocean. Since much of the U.S. supply of sugar was imported, the war interrupted the supply chain of sugar.

Ships crossing over to the United Kingdom with supplies also faced the dreaded German U-boats, which sank large numbers of the Allied merchant fleet when Germany declared unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917. This danger threatened to worsen the Allied food situation in Europe, which was already severe. The woman in the poster above is literally draining away resources that the Allies need to win the war.

To inform U.S. citizens on … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesdays: Eat your peas in NYC

World War I poster encouraging U.S. citizens to eat less wheat, ca. 1917-1919 (ARC Identifier 512442)

 

To celebrate our new exhibit “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” we are featuring a food-related blog post every Wednesday. Today’s post comes from Christopher Zarr at the National Archives in New York City.

The National Archives maintains the primary source documents of the U.S. Food Administration (USFA). Thousands of documents illustrate the local sacrifices and quality of life on the home front during World War I. The documents of the National Archives at New York City detail the actions taken by the USFA in New York, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico.

The Federal Government tried to influence local neighborhoods. In the New York City market,  particular attention was paid to the multicultural nature of the city.

Pamphlets were translated for Jewish and Italian immigrants to explain “Why Shouldn’t We Eat What We Want?” and to support the benefits of drinking milk in “Food for Children.” The New York food board also created an exhibit at Grand Central Terminal to show why limiting wheat, meat, fats, and sugar would not be a detriment to your health.

Some of the most fascinating documents to come from our records are recipe pamphlets. Thousands of these recipe brochures were distributed throughout the city. With titles such as “Without Wheat” and “Potato Possibilities[ Read all ]