World War II

On the home front during World War II, Texans sacrificed whatever was necessary to support “our boys overseas.” Rationing became a way of life—stamp books for meat, sugar, coffee, shoes, rubber, auto parts, and eventually gas became a necessity. At increasingly frequent intervals communities held scrap-iron drives; adults bought war bonds; school children had time allotted during class periods to buy, then paste, savings stamps in bond books; and many families planted “victory gardens” to conserve food for the war effort.

During these years Texans thrived; the Great Depression became only a memory. Along the Gulf Coast from the Beaumont-Port Arthur area southward to Corpus Christi, the greatest petrochemical industry was built to refine fuel for the American war machine. With prices high, farmers cultivated the soil to its maximum, helping the United States supply grain to the Allied nations. Wartime industries grew throughout Texas: steel mills in Houston and Daingerfield; enormous aircraft factories in Garland, Grand Prairie, and Fort Worth; extensive shipyards in Beaumont, Port Arthur, Houston, Galveston, and Corpus Christi; a revitalized paper and wood-pulp industry in East Texas; and munitions and synthetic rubber factories in different parts of the state. There was a shortage of workers with men in the service, with defense contracts readily available, and with wages rising. Therefore, 500,000 Texans moved from rural areas to job markets in nearby cities, and thousands of people from other states migrated to Texas for jobs. Women entered male occupations and became punch-press operators, assembly-line workers, and riveters.

Source: World War II
Copyright © Texas State Historical Association

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