[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]
During World War II, the U.S. government began rationing food and supplies to put towards the war effort. Shortages in metal and rubber demanded finding inventive ways of acquiring available metal and rubber supplies. Americans were urged to turn in scrap metal for recycling.
Schools were ordered to provide rationing programs for students and support war bond drives. Families supported public events and programs such as the scrap drives because they were patriotic and connected families in some way with their loved ones serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Perhaps one of the community scenes which stuck in the minds of so many from the war period was the community scrap heap. A pile of rusting metal and old rubber stood for freedom and democracy. Recycled scrap metal was used to build ships, tanks, planes, bullets, artillery shells, and other military supplies. This photograph of Coltrane Elementary School students in Concord, North Carolina, shows them bringing scrap metal and rubber tires to a scrap pile in 1942. Schools and communities all over North Carolina contributed to piles such as these, and local businesses and corporations converted the metal into weapons, vehicles and vessels, and supplies.
You can explore more about home front activities and rationing in the County War Records, found in the WWII Papers of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina.
This blog post is one in two-week series of posts sharing the items used in the exhibit titled “The Family Traditions of Service: A Historical Tribute to Veterans.” This exhibit, on display from November 3 to November 13, 2015, at the Dare County Arts Council building in Manteo, N.C., is sponsored by the Friends of the Outer Banks History Center, the exhibit serves as a historical tribute to over 100 years of military service of North Carolina residents and their families, with particular emphasis on coastal North Carolina. The goal of the exhibit is to honor the role of North Carolina veterans and their families during peacetime and war. The items from this exhibit come from the holdings of the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina and the Outer Banks History Center.