Thursday, September 11, 2014

How the New Deal Helped Win World War II (part 7 of 10): Sewing for Victory

Above: A WPA poster created in New York City, between 1941 and 1943. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. 

 Above: A WPA sewing room project in Washington, D.C. Thousands of formerly unemployed workers across the nation produced 383 million items of clothing for Americans in need. These workers also contributed to the defense and early war efforts, as the Final Report on the WPA Program, 1935-43 highlights: "In the defense and war period, the War Department assigned to the WPA sewing room projects the work of reclamation of army clothing and equipage. In some areas, the WPA supplemented the reclamation work of established army facilities; in other areas, the WPA performed the whole reclamation job. Articles of clothing, including shoes, and tents, blankets, knapsacks, web belting, canteen covers and the like, were made usable, thereby saving many millions of dollars" (pp. 67-68). Photo courtesy of the National Archives and New Deal Network.

Above: Unemployed tailors also found work in the WPA. The description for this photo reads, "WPA Sewing Shop at 475 Tenth Avenue, New York City." Photo courtesy of the National Archives and the New Deal Network.

Above: In this photo, we see a woman on a National Youth Administration sewing project in Minnesota. When the war hit, the National Youth Administration trained young women to operate industrial sewing machines "To meet the demands occasioned by the war" (see the 8-minute film "Training Women for War Production"). Photo courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum and the New Deal Network.

Once again we see how unemployed Americans, when given opportunities instead of insults, made significant contributions to the nation. What a shame that this lesson from history has been largely forgotten and, even worse, replaced with an endless barrage of scorn and ridicule towards the jobless. Hopefully, someday, a future generation of Americans will cast aside the scorn and ridicule, and embrace New Deal optimism instead.

No comments:

Post a Comment