Essential Question: “How important was the home front to the United States’ victory in World War II?
National Standard for United States History: Era 8, Standard 3
The origins and course of World War II,
the character of the war at home and abroad, and its reshaping of the United States role on world affairs.
Students will be able to:
1. Explain and evaluate extensive economic and military mobilization on the home front by the United States during World War II and its impact of the success of the war effort. 2. Explain how the whole country, across all economic and social levels, was involved in a unified effort to produce the goods of war and of the common sacrifice made by every citizen through rationing, victory gardens, bond drives, etc. 3. Analyze and assess the effects of World War II on culture, family, gender roles, and technology in American society.
Background Description/Historical Significance:
Although there were no military battles fought on the mainland of the United States, World War II had a profound effect on the nation as the Federal government mobilized its economic, financial, and human resources to defeat Axis aggression. This war returned the nation to economic prosperity after a decade of dismal depression, promoted the growth of big business, and enhanced a close relationship between industry and the military. Politically, the power of the presidency and influence of the Federal government increased, and socially and economically, the war, through common sacrifice made by all, became a vehicle for improving the status of Americans. In short, the war became a catalyst for significant economic and social change whose impact extended well-beyond its duration.
For example, before the war women had traditionally played a secondary role in the job market and men had dominated the industrial job sector. However, with millions of men being drafted or joining the military, women were needed to man the factories and supply centers producing goods for the war. (Over 400,000 women also served in the military during World War II.) They also had traditionally faced job discrimination and lower pay levels, but some of these inequities began to fade as they took on more and more responsibility in factories and production centers. Posters extolling “Rosie the Riveter” were printed, recognizing the need and importance of recruiting women for the work force. Between 1941 and 1944, the number of women working outside the home rose by 5,000,000. By 1944, 72% of the female workforce were married women and their average age was over thirty-five. The war could not have been won without them.
The war also began to create a more level playing field for minorities who had traditionally faced discrimination. All Americans were needed in the war effort and so black American, Hispanic Americans, and Japanese Americans (where in California whole families had been sent to military detention camps), were being drafted and joining the military. In the case of African and Japanese Americans, separate and segregated military units were created… yet, they fought on the same battlefields with their fellow citizens. Changes also occurred on the home front. Factory workers were needed in the industrial north, and a migration of black workers to northern factories began and would continue until many years after the war had ended.
What happened in the country during this time was really remarkable. America’s entry into the war had brought the Nation together, united in a common and just cause, like at no other time in its...