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Tag: 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 ]

World War I food conservation: “Pan de la libertad”

Recipes for "Pan de la libertad para conservar el trigo." (Records of the U.S. Food Administration, RG 4, National Archives at San Francisco)

Recipes for "Pan de la libertad para conservar el trigo." (Records of the U.S. Food Administration, RG 4, National Archives at San Francisco)

“What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?,” our current special exhibition in Washington, DC, examines the Government’s effect on what Americans eat. Government influence was especially visible during wartime, when many food products were reserved for feeding the troops and our Allies.

During World War I, the U.S. Food Administration, headed by Herbert Hoover, urged the American people to voluntarily conserve food, especially wheat, meat, fats, and sugar. Recognizing that a successful program had to reach out to all Americans, the agency distributed printed materials in several languages, including Italian pamphlets in New York City, Chinese food conservation notices in Hawaii, and Spanish recipes in California.

The featured recipes for “pan de la libertad” (liberty bread), using corn, oat, and barley flour instead of wheat, were found in the files of the California State Food Administration, housed at the National Archives at San Francisco. According to a note at the bottom, recipes were translated into Spanish for counties with significant Spanish-speaking populations.

An all-out publicity campaign was waged to educate the citizenry about the need for food conservation and how … [ Read all ]

Potatriots: The original Freedom Fries

Potatoes in Iowa become "the newest fighting corps" on the domestic front, ca. 1917 - ca. 1918. (National Archives at Kansas City, ARC 283501).

These Iowa spuds were decades ahead of the “Freedom Fries” idea! To help the war effort during First World War, U.S. citizens were encouraged to eat more potatoes while wheat was being sent to the soldiers overseas.

This World War I store window display showed potatoes dressed as soldiers, encouraging both children and adults to remember the fighting men overseas. (In fact, a column in a 1918 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine encouraged citizens to conserve food and “Stop Eating Soldiers!”)

The National Archives Experience is sponsoring an activity from July 11 to July 31 in conjunction with our new exhibition, “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” Inspired by this World War I display, we invite you to create your own “potatriot” diorama! You can draw inspiration from any historical event of your choosing—feel free to be as creative as possible!

Send a photo of your potato diorama to volunteer@nara.gov, and we will post it in an album on the National Archives Facebook page.

All submissions will be entered into a drawing. At the end of the month, a winner will be randomly selected to receive a prize from the Foundation for the National Archives!

(And if you are visiting us in … [ 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 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 ]