Education

World War II Ration Book, Diana Mujica, ca. 1945


Historical Context
The United States started nationwide food rationing in 1942 during World War II.  Each member of the family was given a ration book. These books contained stamps and gave precise details about the amount of meat, gasoline, sugar, and other important items that a person was allowed to buy. An individual was limited to the amounts dictated by the stamps, even if he or she could afford to buy more. Stores had to collect both money and stamps when rationed items were purchased. These books insured that all citizens were given a fair share of food and other materials that were in short supply due to the war.  Rationing was one of the sacrifices Americans were asked to make to help the war effort on the home front.
Essential Question
How does war impact a society?
Check for Understanding
Identify the purpose of this document and explain why this system was necessary during a time of war.
[click to enlarge]
War Ration Book, Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, CUNY, CEN_GEN_BGCF4_1343
Document Description
War ration book of Diana Mujica, an eleven-year-old Puerto Rican girl, ca. 1945. Ration books were used during World War II for identification, and to control the amount of food and certain goods allowed per person. Many items were in short supply due to a transition to military production in place of consumer goods. Rationing was initiated by the United States government to ensure that everyone got his or her fair share of staples.
Questions
  1. This ration book belonged to Diana Mujica.  How old was Diana? 
  2. What high school did Diana attend?
  3. Why was it necessary to ration certain products during World War II?
  4. Why do you think that children were given ration cards?
  5. How did U.S. civilians, including Latino Americans, contribute to the American war effort?
  6. What government agency issued the ration books?
  7. Could people sell or give away their portion of the stamps to someone else?
Historical Challenge
What other sacrifices did American citizens make during World Wars I and II?
Interview an older American who lived through World War II and ask him or her about his/her experiences with rationing.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Art: Create your own World War II poster to try and convince civilians to help the war effort.
Math: Create your own family budget subject to the restrictions of rationing stamps. Make a shopping list of items to buy.
Resources
  1. http://www.fsu.edu/~ww2/ration.htm

    Examples of ration stamps
  2. http://www.archives.gov/pacific/education/curriculum/4th-grade/ww2-opa-records.html

    The National Archives has many lesson ideas using ration cards
  3. http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/sow-seeds/#documents

    Examples of World War I and II posters
  4. http://www.ameshistoricalsociety.org/exhibits/events/rationing.htm

    Examples and explanations of the various types of rationing during WWII.
  5. http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/reference/hisref.htm

    New York State Library. "Selected Hispanic and Latino Websites."