Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ration Books and Encyclopedia Annuals

Hat tip to the UpFront with NGS blog highlighting Illya D'Addezio's WW2 ration book collection at Genealogy Today. GT has a number of other offbeat but potentially very helpful sources to seek out.

And it reminded me of another source that you may need to be "a certain age" to remember: the encyclopedia "annual" or "Year Book" chronicling the events of the year just past. I picked up the 1944 Collier's Year Book, covering the events of 1943, at a used-book store years ago. It has a similar fascination to old gazetteers in that it tells the story as it looked when it was happening -- complete with political and sectional infighting -- not in the sentimental pastels of nostalgia. Here's Smith College historian Harold U. Faulkner on rationing during 1943:

On Jan. 2 the OPA [Office of Price Administration] banned all pleasure driving. . . . When pleasure driving was banned, the OPA continued to allow Eastern A-card holders three gallons a week for essential driving. Many car owners, nevertheless, criticized the ban on pleasure driving, insisting that if they were given oil, they should have the right to use it as they pleased. On March 22 the Government lifted the ban, but cut the Eastern A cards from three to one and a half gallons a week. This angered the East for the Middle West was getting four gallons. Black market buying increased and on May 20 the restriction on pleasure driving was renewed.
It wasn't always "all for one and one for all" even during the "good war."

This yearbook had articles from "accidents and accident prevention" to "zoology," plus photos, maps of war areas, and statistical tables, all from the point of view of sixty-eight years ago.

From front to back the annual was dominated by the world war. But even in time of total war there was still room for articles on college and professional football, which in 1943 were dominated by Notre Dame and the Chicago Bears respectively. Not all franchises were able to maintain a team: reportedly, "The Pittsburgh and Philadelphia clubs merged as the Steagles." I won't tell their present-day fans if you won't!

Harold Underwood Faulkner, "United States -- Rationing," p. 552, and Allison Danzig, "Football," pp. 187-88, in William W. Beardsley, ed., 1944 Collier's Year Book, Covering Events of the Year 1943 (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1944).

Harold Henderson, "Ration Books and Encyclopedia Annuals," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 28 October 2012 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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