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Home Front Friday: Artists For Victory

Home Front Friday is a regular series that highlights the can do spirit on the Home Front during World War II and illustrates how that spirit is still alive today!

Today is International Animation Day, so in honor of cartoons, drawings, and other styles of art, let’s take a trip back to WWII to see the impact art had on the Home Front. Whether it is a piece of propaganda or a sketch of a battlefield, pieces of art have served as representations of humanity for centuries. They’ve evolved from sculptures to portraits to images with detail so perfect they seem to have the equivalence of a photograph. The emotions expressed through art challenge audience members to change their perspectives and to see the world through a different set of eyes, and during WWII these eyes were those of soldiers.

Artists on the Home Front decided to put their talents to work and support the war effort. Propaganda became a major source of communication all across the nation that rallied civilians to scrap, to carpool, to ration their food items, and called, women in particular, to join the workforce. They were artists for victory; reminding citizens that they were part of the fight too.

Created by Norman Rockwell. via National Archives.

Created by Norman Rockwell. Photo courtesy of the National Archives.

WWII revolutionized art. Propaganda artists learned to target emotions of those on the Home Front while field artists portrayed events from the Pacific and European Theaters through their strong brushstrokes and revealing sketches. The war was shared with the Home Front through so many ways, and art was just a bonus form of communication that captured scenes and sentiments through a more creative approach. Photos instantly capture, but drawings and paintings take time to come to life. They used their skills to hone in on what they saw in battle and, for propaganda artists, what they knew needed motivation on the Home Front. Some artists, like Tom Lea, decided that it was best for them to change their perspectives from the Home Front to the battlefield. So, they went overseas to draw what they saw.

Titled "Sherman Tanks Invade." Painted by Army artist Ogden Pleissner. via PBS.

Titled “Sherman Tanks Invade.” Painted by Army artist Ogden Pleissner. Photo courtesy of PBS.

Photograph of an illustration of an invasion of a waterfront town and buildings along the shore line in Italy. 1944-45.

Photograph of an illustration of an invasion of a waterfront town and buildings along the shore line in Italy. 1944-45.

Tom Lea was an artist correspondent for LIFE magazine during WWII whose painting, sketching, and writing appeared in issues of the magazine from April 1942 through July 1945. His job as a correspondent was to go ashore with the United States Marines and to record what he witnessed and experienced through sketches. His most well known campaign was that of the Marine landing at Peleliu Island, where he could not sketch nor write about his experience until the next day because of the fear he had to overcome and let settle after the invasion. His sketches and artworks have been etched into their audiences’ minds as reminders that the effort was no easy task and that the soldiers were brothers in arms; assisting one another and fighting together to be able to restore peace and return home. The National WWII Museum has an exhibit with 26 of Tom Lea’s original pieces of art on display until January 1, 2017. If you find yourself with an interest in his art of WWII, you can experience this man’s talented way of revealing emotions of soldiers and harshness of battles during your visit to the museum.

Excerpt from LIFE magazine in 1942 with feature of Tom Lea's sketches from the North Atlantic.

Excerpt from LIFE magazine in 1942 with feature of Tom Lea’s sketches from the North Atlantic.

Lea's sketches in copy of LIFE.

Lea’s sketches in copy of LIFE.

Along with artists, many art historians put in an effort. From the Home Front, they worried about world renowned masterpieces falling to not only Nazi thievery but also to allied bombing efforts. The well-known, some what new movie, The Monuments Men, directed by George Clooney, was based on the book, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in Historyby Robert Edsel. It recalls the lives of American professors, architects, and artists who put their Home Front jobs on hold to go be soldiers of art and save important pieces that define our culture as a humanity.

The propaganda and field art of WWII have impacted the constantly evolving world of art. Both of these forms encouraged the sharing of information through a medium other than the written word or the radio. Propaganda has inspired new approaches to advertising and sharing information with people about new products or who to vote for in an election. During the war, all emotions were hit with propaganda. Artists instilled fear, sadness, happiness, or motivation within its audience through their creations. Some ads today that focus on products like cigarettes and other harmful items target a similar sense of fear within people, while most others aim to reveal how content a person’s life can be if they purchase a particular product. Propaganda struck a cord with the Home Front during WWII, and advertising today does the same. Actual art from the field allows people to study and reflect on this war. Propaganda and field art live on with lasting effects, reminding us of how everyone, even artists, were a part of the fight for victory both on the Home Front and in battle.

Since a lot of Americans on the Home Front read magazines and newspapers to learn about the war, they found themselves flipping through ads, propaganda, and political cartoons. For us, it is essentially the same. Magazines are full of coupons and advertisements encouraging us to buy, for example, the newest shoes available. When we’re done with these magazines, they typically find themselves sitting on coffee tables until someone decides to toss it into the recycle bin. Well, here’s a fun craft you can do with left over magazines and/or newspapers. Call on your inner artist and give these news outlets a new life. This is a simple way to embrace the spirit of scrapping just as people did on the Home Front.

American Flag mosaic coaster supplies:

  • Old magazines
  • Old coasters or bulletin board
  • Glue
  • Paint brush
  • Mod Podge
  • Scissors

1. Cut red, white, and blue parts out of the old magazine/s that you’ve chosen.


2. Begin to glue them to either your old coaster or to your cork board in the formation of an American Flag.



3. When you’ve finished gluing, cover the coaster with a coat of mod podge and allow it to dry. Once they’ve finished drying, put them out on your coffee table and revel in your artistic skills.


Posted by Camille Weber, Education Intern and Lauren Handley, Assistant Director of Education for Public Programs at The National WWII Museum.

75 Years Ago: ‘Curious George’ First Published

Curious George

Image courtesy of The De Grummond Children’s Literature Collection

Seventy-five years ago this month, the debut installment in the beloved children’s series  Curious George, written and illustrated by Hans and Margret Rey, reached store shelves for the first time. Though the titular monkey with a seemingly endless supply of curiosity had appeared in an earlier collection of stories by the Reys — 1939’s Cecily G. and the Nine Monkeys — in those stories the character of “George” had been known as “Fifi.”  Hans and Margret — both Jews living in Paris — fled Europe after the Nazi conquest of France in 1940, escaping over the Spanish border by bicycle; the illustrated manuscript of the book that would be published by Houghton Mifflin the following year was one of the few possessions they took along with them.

Despite being the first book in a series that has been adapted into dozens of spin-off titles, cartoons, and animated films, the major characters and tropes of the Curious George books were already well in place by 1941, with The Man In The Yellow Hat having to rescue George after he first falls off a ship transporting him across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa and then from a police station where he has wound up after making a “false alarm” report of a house fire.

See more fun activities in the Museum’s Kid’s Corner.

This post by Collin Makamson, Student Programs Coordinator @ The National WWII Museum.


Home Front Friday: Victory Apple Pie

Home Front Friday is a regular series that highlights the can do spirit on the Home Front during World War II and illustrates how that spirit is still alive today!

Representative of so much more than a rich blend of apples and sugar tucked into a flaky crust, apple pie may have faced recipe changes during WWII due to the rationing of ingredients, but it did not find itself on the back burner when it came to baked goods. When soldiers on the Front thought apple pie, they thought home, and knew that as they continued making advancements they’d be one, slow step closer to reuniting with their family, friends, and a classic apple pie.


From The Victory Binding of the American Woman’s Cook Book: Wartime Edition


The phrase, “as American as motherhood and apple pie,” rose in popularity from soldiers who answered reporters that they fought, “for mom and for apple pie.” If you have more interest in why we’re as American as apple pie, follow this link to the Huffington Post article that explains where apple pie originated and why it has become such a popular identifier for Americans.


On the Home Front, extravagant desserts were frowned upon because of the type and amount of ingredients they called for, but in the case of pie, adjustments were easily, and necessarily, made. A few ingredients for an apple pie were items on the ration list, most well-known is probably sugar. In the following recipe, sugar is used. So, whoever was making this pie, would have to make sure that they have the correct amount of stamps left to purchase sugar. Eggs were also rationed. If a person was out of eggs and no longer had the correct amount of stamps to purchase eggs, baking soda could be used in their places. 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda can be used in place of 1 egg, so in the following recipe, you would use the equivalent amount of baking soda for three eggs.

Victory Apple Pie from The Victory Binding of the American Woman's Cook Book: Wartime Edition.

Victory Apple Pie recipe from The Victory Binding of the American Woman’s Cook Book: Wartime Edition.


  • 1/3 cup potato water
  • 1/2 cup yeast
  • 1/3 cup riced potatoes
  • 3/4 sugar
  • 1/3 cup shoteneing, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 6 apples
  • Cinnamon

Step 1: Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2: Combine potato water, crumbled yeast, cooled potatoes and 1/4 cup sugar.

Step 3: Let it rise for 1 hour.


Step 4: After the 1 hour, add:

  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Flour – the recipe calls for about one cup on the dough to make it stiff, but I had to use about 2.5 cups.

Step 5: Knead the dough well.


Step 6: Let it rise until double in bulk. This took about an hour.

Step 7: Roll out the dough into 2 circles about 1/2 inch thick.

Step 8: Place in two greased (or one) pie pans and press the dough to the edges.


Step 9: Cut the apples into eighths and arrange them on the dough.


Step 10: Beat the remaining eggs, add the remaining sugar, and pour this mix over the apples.

Mary Mutz, again, 1943 New Mexico baking apple pie. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Mary Mutz, again, 1943 New Mexico baking apple pie. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.


Step 11: Sprinkle with cinnamon, and cover it with a top layer of dough.


Step 12: Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.


Mary Mutz cooking her apple pie in 1943 New Mexico. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Mary Mutz cooking her apple pie in 1943 New Mexico. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.



Posted by Camille Weber, Education Intern and Lauren Handley, Assistant Director of Education for Public Programs at The National WWII Museum.

SciTech Tuesday: Percy Spencer and the microwave oven

Seventy one years ago, on October 8 1945, Percy Spencer filed a patent for a cooking oven powered by microwave radiation. He worked for Raytheon, who owned his intellectual property, so Spencer got a $2,000 stipend but no royalties for his invention.

Percy Spencer, born in rural Maine in 1896, had a very hard early life. His father died before he was 2 years old, and when his mom couldn’t support him after that she left him with an aunt and uncle. That uncle died shortly thereafter. Percy was working in a mill by 12, and as an electrician at 14. He enlisted in the Navy with an interest in radio, and learned there about the science of making and using electromagnetic waves to send information.

By 1939 he was an expert on radar tubes, and was working for Raytheon. Most of the government’s research on radar leading up to WWII was being conducted at MIT’s Radiation Laboratory and Raytheon won the contract based largely on Spencer’s reputation. At Raytheon Spencer developed new manufacturing techniques to build radar tubes much faster.

In 1940 the Tizard mission brought UK radar technology to the US, including a cavity magnetron that greatly improved radar technology. When Spencer was experimenting with magnetrons he discovered that a snack bar he had in his pocket had melted. He was not the first to notice that magnetrons created heat energy, but the next day he was the first to experiment with it. Spencer put a container of popcorn over the magnetron and made the first microwave popcorn. He worked to contain the waves in a metal box and focus their energy.

The first commercial microwave oven was made in 1945, but was very large and expensive. They became smaller and more affordable as the decades passed.

Posted by Rob Wallace, STEM Education Coordinator at The National WWII Museum.

A Raytheon Radarange from the 1950s

A Raytheon Radarange from the 1950s

Home Front Friday: Music Inspires

Home Front Friday is a regular series that highlights the can do spirit on the Home Front during World War II and illustrates how that spirit is still alive today!

World War II was the time of the Big Band, and Americans all across the Home Front made their ways to performances at popular venues as well as listened to the newest hits on the radio by artists like Bing Crosby or groups led by Duke Ellington. Music kept people’s spirits high while husbands, cousins, friends, boyfriends, and other members of the family were off fighting to bring liberty to a world that found itself in a fierce battle.

Music of  the WWII era paralleled with the sentiments and proceedings of what was going on in the world. This hasn’t changed since. The only slight difference is that instead of 17 shined instruments, our musicians are found with guitars or mixes created with software on computers. Technology has changed the world of music, but what is has not touched is the sheer simplicity of an artist’s creation of songs that reflect the mood of the American public.

via National Archives

Photo courtesy of the National Archives.



Jazz was a popular genre nationwide during WWII. Before US involvement in the war, themes of music centered on American isolationism and support for the Allied forces. A popular song by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II titled “The Last Time I Saw Paris” was published in 1940. There are numerous versions of this song, but singer Kate Smith’s is one of the most well-known. The song creates a nostalgic feel of reflection for the beautiful city of Paris that unluckily fell to Nazi control earlier that year.

As the war progressed in Europe, songs continued to focus on the disapproval of US involvement, but when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, subject matters changed. Some songs called for scraps to be saved, collected, and donated while others encouraged enlistment. “We Did It Before and We Can Do It Again” by Barry Wood was released only days after Pearl Harbor. It is a rally song that convinced Americans they need not worry about fighting in a second war since they had already come out of WWI victorious. The upbeat attitude of the song was a hopeful disguise of the sentiment of worry most Americans were feeling. Elton Britton, a popular country music artist, released “There’s a Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere” in 1942 to reassure families who had lost loved ones in the war that a flag would always fly in their honor.

There were also songs of love and of longing to reunite with loved ones. A well-known song that was released before US involvement in the war, but rose in popularity as more and more men were sent overseas was “I’ll Be Seeing You” sung by many artists, but most popularly by Bing Crosby in 1944.

Music today carries the same value it did during the war. There are artists like Toby Keith who have released songs that remind Americans of our strength of a country as well as express gratitude to soldiers for their sacrifice. A few favorites of Keith’s among the American public include “American Soldier” and “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.” There are also songs today that expand beyond our military involvement with the Middle East and zoom in more on social issues happening stateside. “Same Love” released in 2013 by pop culture artists Macklemore calls for equality in the LGBT community. Whether it was 1940, is 2016, or any year in between, singers, songwriters, and composers have the job of creating songs that boost morale, open minds, or bring people together over a common cause.

If you’re a fan of music and are looking for a new playlist to celebrate the weekend, check out the one below. Enjoy taking yourself back in time to the 1940s through these lyrics and beats.

Posted by Camille Weber, Education Intern and Lauren Handley, Assistant Director of Education for Public Programs at The National WWII Museum.

SciTech Tuesday: The Anniversary of the Jeep

On September 27 of 1940 a vehicle prototype made by American Bantam Car Company began testing at Camp Holabird in Maryland. Bantam was the only company to respond to a request from the military for a small, lightweight, powerful, 4-wheel drive vehicle. The car tested well, but there were concerns about Bantam’s size and financial state, so the government gave Willys Overland and Ford a chance to study the vehicle and copies of its blueprints.

Willys and Ford submitted prototypes in November of 1940, and they also tested well, and were not-surprisingly all very similar. Orders were placed for 1,500 vehicles from each company.

In July of 1941 the military decided it would be best to standardize and choose one vehicle to use. They awarded the contract for the next 16,000 vehicles to Willys because it was less expensive and had a more powerful engine. In the end Willys could not meet production targets and Ford was licensed to make some of the vehicles too. During the war Willys made 363,000 and Ford made 280,000 ‘Jeeps.’

There is much conjecture and not a lot of evidence on the etymology of the term ‘Jeep.’ My favorite is that the soldiers loved the vehicle and named it after a popular cartoon character, Popeye’s sidekick Eugene the Jeep. The name was first used in print when Willys staged a publicity event and invited photographers to see the vehicle drive up the Capital steps in Washington, DC. The caption refers to the vehicle as a ‘jeep.’

The first 4-wheel drive vehicles were made for the military in WWI by the Four Wheel Drive Auto Company and Thomas B Jeffrey Company. After WWII, Willys produced the CJ (Civilian Jeep), and when American Bantam went bankrupt in 1950 Willys was granted the Jeep trademark.

Happy 76th birthday to the Jeep.

Posted by Rob Wallace, STEM Education Coordinator at The National WWII Museum.

Knit Your Bit celebrates 10 years, 50,000 scarves for veterans

kybpatternThe Museum’s Knit Your Bit program—for which 10,000 volunteer knitters and crocheters across the country have produced 50,000 scarves for veterans’ centers, hospitals and service organizations—celebrates its 10th anniversary with a knit-in from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Saturday, September 17, in US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.

For navigation help finding the knit-in, look for the Sherman tank wrapped in a giant scarf.

“On the Home Front during World War II, knitting served as one way Americans could support the war effort—thousands picked up their needles to knit socks and sweaters to keep American soldiers warm,” said Lauren Handley, the Museum’s assistant director for public programs, who founded the program in 2006. “We’re thrilled to celebrate this grassroots program, which allows us to connect directly with veterans and show our appreciation of their service to our country.”

The connection with veterans is one of the program’s appeals for Elizabeth Done, a New Orleans-based stalwart of the Knit Your Bit program. In addition to the live knitting action and giant-scarf-wrapped tank, the September 17 knit-in will also feature local students distributing program-produced scarves to veterans. Local Veterans Affairs representatives will also be on-site and available for questions.

“The veteran handouts are my favorite,” Done said. “You get the ones who get really emotional.”

Shirley Sentgerath of Fennville, Michigan, has contributed an estimated 700 pieces to the program.

“I try to figure between six to eight a month,” Sentgerath said. “I’m a knit-wit, and I’m tired of doing things for grandkids who are teenagers now.”

Shirley Sentgerath.

Shirley Sentgerath.

In addition to her passion for knitting, Sentgerath’s motivation for her heroic Knit Your Bit efforts is rooted in many family ties to the military. Her husband, John, is a Korean War-era veteran of the US Navy. The Sentgeraths have been Museum members since 2010, and visit annually while wintering on Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

“There are a lot of things in the Museum that are absolutely outstanding,” John Sentgerath said.

Including Knit Your Bit, now rolling toward its second decade.

To keep up with the latest Knit Your Bit news, join the Museum’s Facebook group. For more information about the national Knit Your Bit program, contact Adam Foreman at knitting@nationalww2museum.org.



Welcome Home Seaman Deleman

In honor of National POW/MIA Recognition Day, we’d like to offer a glimpse of one recent addition to our collection. Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Bernard Deleman served on the submarine, USS Perch (SS-176) in the Pacific and was captured by the Japanese in March 1942. He was held as a POW until his 25th birthday on September 15, 1945. When he arrived at home, he was welcomed at the train station in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania by a parade of high school bands, city officials, firemen, policemen, and clergy. In this photo, one sees Bernard stepping off of the train. Over 120,000 Americans were prisoners of war during World War II. Bernard Deleman was one of 27,465 American POWs in the Pacific.



Gift in Memory of Bernard Deleman, 2016

Posted by Assistant Director for Curatorial Services Kimberly Guise.

Home Front Friday: Cornmeal Muffins with Jam

Home Front Friday is a regular series that highlights the can do spirit on the Home Front during World War II and illustrates how that spirit is still alive today!

These days, making cupcakes or muffins or really any sort of dish, is simple. You raid your pantry, take a trip to the grocery store, and compile all ingredients you need without having to worry about limitations placed on the amount of, for example, sugar or eggs or milk that you choose to buy. This was not the case during WWII.

Certain foods were limited during the war, especially those that were processed because they could easily be sent overseas to troops. Families received ration books, and in each ration book were stamps that correlated with a particular food item. Each food required a certain amount of stamps in order to purchase it. Once a person ran out of their stamps, they had to wait until the next month to receive a new ration book. With this system came great responsibility, and families not only found their creative sides in the kitchen, but also learned to balance out their meals.


The cookbook that we’ve been using to pull recipes for “foodie” Friday, The Victory Binding of the American Woman’s Cook Book: Wartime Edition, holds weekly calendars in the back that lay out example plans of what meals families could eat each of the days during the weeks.


Example of the weekly layout of what families could eat for their breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. At the bottom of the pages are substitute meal ideas in case a family was missing ingredients or didn’t have enough ration stamps for a particular meal.

This week’s “foodie” Friday recipe from the American Woman’s Cook Book is for cornmeal muffins with, or without, jam. This is served as a breakfast. In the above photo, it’s listed as a breakfast item for Wednesday. The recipe calls for sugar and an egg, both of which were rationed, but could have been purchased with your ration stamps. These can be served as breakfast for multiple days in a row since the recipe makes about 12. The muffins were a great dish because they lasted a while, so families could get a lot out of a recipe that didn’t call for too large of amounts from too many ingredients. It is simple, straightforward, and pleasing to the taste buds, so families on the Home Front ate this breakfast up and continuously participated in the fight for victory.



  • 1 cup of corn meal
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of melted shortening

Step 1: Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

Step 2: Sift the corn meal, flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder together.


Step 3: Beat the egg.

Step 4: Add the milk and melted shortening to the beaten egg.

Step 5: Mix together the dry ingredients with the egg mixture.


Step 6: Bake for 20-25 minutes.


IMG_2910 (1)



Taste tip: Spread some jelly on them for a touch of sweetness. Civilians on the Home Front made this breakfast their jam, no pun intended.

Posted by Camille Weber, Education Intern and Lauren Handley, Assistant Director of Education for Public Programs at The National WWII Museum.

Service Learning to Start the School Year!

Mooresville project finishers

Students from Mooresville Middle School, the first classroom to finish the project last year. They are showcasing the prizes they won for all of their efforts.

With schools back in session, we say welcome to a second year of the Museum’s service learning project, Get in the Scrap! Inspired by the scrapping efforts of students during WWII, Get in the Scrap! encourages today’s students to become environmental stewards with fun classroom activities that earn them points and prizes. Participants in our first year had  successful experiences in their classroom, and many students finished their activities in May with a greater interest in both recycling and WWII Home Front history. Kids on the Home Front led by example and have inspired young girls and boys today to realize that they, too, can have an impact on their schools and communities.

Curious on how it works?

Join us for our launch webinar on Thursday, September 22 at 12 pm central time: Your students will discover how kids helped win WWII by scrapping common household items to be converted into war materials.  Learn firsthand from teachers and students how the project works in their classrooms. If you sign up for the launch webinar, your class will be able to start their Get in the Scrap! project with 5 bonus points. This’ll have your students one step closer to receiving their first prize!

Registrants will receive details on how to sign up for the project and curriculum materials. Space is limited—sign up today!

What’s new?

Is that the Brady Bunch? No, just students from Lincoln Middle School pledging to make a difference in their school and community!

Is that the Brady Bunch? No, just students from Lincoln Middle School pledging to make a difference in their school and community!

If you’re a returning classroom, we have three new activities and brand new prizes that’ll have your students wanting to do more to rack up their points.  Our new activities are a game of Jeopardy, the creation of a Memory Jar to track progress and daily happenings during your class’ time with the project, and a Water Bottle Bank that is a build-up to the Water Bottle 100 Challenge. It will have your students’ brains churning about how a plastic water bottle can serve more than 1 use. Each of these new Get in the Scrap! activities incorporates  key themes including teamwork, writing, and creativity.

Make sure to share your students’ progress with the Museum via the hashtag #getinthescrap and your class could be  featured as the Get in the Scrap! Classroom of the Month, which will be highlighted in the monthly e-newsletter and this blog!

Want more?

Keep track of all things Get in the Scrap! by following the hashtag  #getinthescrap on Instagram and Twitter. Also, sign up for the Museum’s monthly e-newsletter “Calling All Teachers!” for the latest Get in the Scrap! news and project updates. We’re looking forward to year two and to see how your student scrappers will enthusiastically complete the project!

Post by Camille Weber, Education Intern and Chrissy Gregg, Virtual Classroom Coordinator