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Archive for '- World War I'

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Whale Surprise!

Recipes for Whale Pot Roast and Curried Whale from the Records of the U.S. Food Administration, RG 4 (National Archives at Kansas City)

Today’s guest post comes from Jennifer Audsley Moore, who is an archives technician and volunteer coordinator at the National Archives at Kansas City.

Whale: It’s what’s for dinner.

At least, that is how the U.S. Food Administration and U.S Bureau of Fisheries would have it. During World War I, the U.S. Food Administration was established under the Lever Act to ration food and stabilize prices. With farmers and other industries mandated to comply with the act, certain food items such as sugar, wheat, and beef became difficult to procure.

But for the majority of Americans, participation in food rationing was more strongly suggested than mandatory. Advertisements designed to admonish Americans into forgoing sugar, beef, pork, wheat in the name of patriotism abounded. American soldiers fighting in France needed beef and sugar rations, and Uncle Sam needed the ships normally used to import sugar and other luxuries for the war effort.

So just what were Americans at home supposed to serve for dinner? Not beef. Not pork. Chicken perhaps? No. How about whale? Yes, whale.

Perhaps this might not seem far-fetched in Alaska or even New England (although in the Midwest we tend to identify the East Coast with clam chowder … [ Read all ]

Facial Hair Friday: A mustache, a funny man, and a President

Page of the World War I draft card for Groucho Marx, from the holdings of the National Archives

Julius Henry Marx–better known by his stage name Groucho Marx–passed away on August 19, 1977. He left behind a legacy of humor on stage, radio, and film. I was not able to find to find any images of him in our holdings, which was disappointing as his trademark mustache was a fine candidate for Facial Hair Friday.

However, I did find something unexpected. Groucho had been corresponding with President Truman.

What would a funny man and a President have in common? Well, it turns out that the young Harry Truman was an avid vaudeville fan, attending shows at the Orpheum Theatre and the Grand Opera House whenever he was Kansas City. He even took his future wife Bess to vaudeville shows on dates. Truman especially enjoyed the Marx Brothers, later recalling that he never missed a chance to see them when they were in town.

So Truman was a fan of the famous brothers, but how did he come to correspond with Groucho (and later Harpo Marx)?

It started with the displaced persons, the survivors of the Holocaust who had lost their homes and families and were now living in temporary camps. Truman had issued a directive in 1945 to allow some of them to immigrate to the United States. In … [ Read all ]

Potatriots: Our winner!

"The Reading of the Declaration of Independence" The winning Potatriot entry by Amanda, age 12.

It’s finally time to announce the randonly chosen winner of our Potatriots contest! But first, a big thank you to the visitors who participated in our Potatriots activity–and a big thank-you to our staff and interns who put out those potatos, pipe cleaners, and historic backgrounds every day.

We had lots of fun posting our Potatriots online at the National Archives Flickrstream, and we enjoying recognizing (and guessing) what records and events were being recreated with potatos. From visitors to National Archives staff contributions, we were impressed with your creative endeavors!

But there can be only one winner–congratulations to Amanda R!

The Foundation for the National Archives donated this prize from our Archives Shop.

Amanda, age 12, was inspired to make her Potatriot scene after visiting Colonial Williamsburg and seeing a public reading of the Declaration of Independence. Well, that’s one of our favorite documents here at Pieces of History, and so we were delighted to see its public reading recreated in potato form.

The Foundation for the National Archives will be sending Amanda a special “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” prize chosen from the Archives Shop. We hope she cultivates the heirloom mini-tomatoes in her prize and her love of history!

Would you like a chance to win something from the National … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesdays: Canning for Victory!

Records of the U.S. Food Administration, World War I-era poster designed by Burton Magee of Monroe, Iowa, Record Group 4.

Today’s “What’s Cooking Wednesdays” guest post comes from Kimberlee Ried, public programs specialist at the National Archives in Kansas City.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

These words, written by Emma Lazarus, are inscribed on the tablet held by the Statue of Liberty, given as a gift to the United States from France in 1886.  This iconic statue has symbolized patriotism and freedom often associated with the United States. 

 This “Be a Victory Canner” poster, found in the records of the National Archives at Kansas City, was created by a child during World War I. The drawing evokes similar patriotic undertones with the depiction of Lady Liberty as a Victory Canner. 

The poster is found in the Records of the U.S. Food Administration, a short-lived federal agency created in 1917 as a part of the Food and Fuel Control Act.  During World War I this agency was responsible for regulating the supply, distribution, and conservation of products for the Allies.  Such items needed for conservation were fuel, wool, sugar, and wheat. 

This “Be a Victory Canner” poster is one … [ Read all ]

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 ]