What Did You Do in the War?

18158 detailOn this day in 1947, sugar rationing ended in the U.S. after nearly five years of shortages brought about by World War II.

Rationing is part of the “Home Front” chapter of What Did You Do in the War?, a special double issue of Nebraska History (Winter 1991). The issue includes many first-person accounts of Nebraskans’ wartime experiences, both at home and overseas. The entire issue, along with our special V-J Day issue (Summer/Fall 1995), is posted online (follow the link and scroll down).



An excerpt from What Did You Do in the War?:

For most Nebraskans, the first sign of the war’s impact was the unprecedented rationing of more than twenty essential items. In combination with price controls, rationing was an attempt to distribute scarce goods equally and control inflation.

18157 detail

Detail of previous image.

The first item to be rationed nationwide was sugar, which was soon followed by coffee and shoes. However, the rationed item producing the greatest inconvenience to most was probably gasoline. Each motorist was assigned a windshield sticker, indicating a priority. Most of the population received low priority “A” stickers, which allowed three to five gallons of gasoline a week. Gasoline was rationed in an effort to save tires, because supplies of vital rubber from the Far East had been cut off. There was no gasoline shortage.


Back page of ration book. NSHS SFN18162

The complicated rationing system was an attempt to prevent hoarding. Coded stamps were redeemable only for a specified period. Along with ration stamps, the Office of Price Administration issued tokens, or points, which were also used when purchasing rationed items.

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Detail from ration book. NSHS SFN18158

– David Bristow, Associate Director of Research and Publications

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2 Responses to What Did You Do in the War?

  1. Melissa Amateis says:

    I have a lot of magazines from the 1940s, and the women’s magazines in particular are very interesting to look through because they have tons of recipes that call for little or no sugar.

  2. John Belz says:

    As for my parents, my father was in the Army Air Force stationed in Rackheath, Norfolk, England. My father was a supply clerk for the B-24 Bomber group. My mother was going to beauty school in Hastings, Nebraska. She was lucky to get to live with a family friend. The German prisons would call her “Blondie” as she walked by their camp. My parents met after the war in Hastings. My dad went to Hastings College on the GI Bill.

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