The wartime economy’s ever-increasing demand for materials meant that conservation efforts became a crucial part of Americans’ daily lives. Shortages began to arrive early in the war. Advertisements soon began to emphasize that it was every citizen’s duty to cut back on meat, sugar, canned goods, fuel, clothing, and anything that could be helpful to the war effort.


LIFE Magazine August 17, 1942; page 91

As discussed earlier, the War Production Board (WPB) was an agency of the United States government that supervised war production during World War II.

The WPB's primary task was converting civilian industry to war production. The WPB assigned priorities and allocated scarce materials such as steel, aluminum, and rubber, prohibited nonessential industrial production like nylons and refrigerators, controlled wages and prices, and mobilized the people through patriotic propaganda.  

Source: Industrial Mobilization for War: History of the War Production Board and Predecessor Agencies: 1940-1945. United States Bureau of Demobilization, Civilian Production Administration, 1947.;view=1up;seq=1

In this public service advertisement, the WPB instructed civilians of the importance of recycling scrap metal and other materials. Note the identification of the Japanese enemy in the text, an effort to personalize a civilian's contribution to the war effort ("That old bedstead...might steel-jacket enough bullets for a couple of U. S. Marines to mow down a Japanese charge.).


LIFE Magazine June 24, 1942; page 24


LIFE Magazine May 11, 1942; page 80

Automobile production was halted in February 1942 and auto manufacturers began the massive retooling efforts needed to convert their factories to full-time war production. No new cars were produced for more than three years and inventories existing when production stopped were only available for purchase by designated "essential drivers", such as physicians. It is estimated that by 1944, only 30,0000 such vehicles remained in inventory.

Since no new cars were available, maintenance of existing vehicles was essential, and manufacturers began to emphasize their dealers' expertise in repair and maintenance activities. This approach also had the additional benefits of protecting individual dealers businesses and keeping the manufacturers' names before the public. These General Motors advertisements, published in the spring of 1942, were typical examples of this new approach to the consumer market. Note the extensive use of text in these advertisements to educate consumers, a feature common to many ads, especially in the early days of the war.

Source: Buescher, John. "Teaching, home of the National History Education Clearinghouse." The Auto Industry Goes to War | N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.