Archive addition provides insight into local life during WWII

Published 5:07 pm Monday, January 29, 2018

From sockhops to ration points, Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library’s newest arrival to the archives provides a bit of context of how life was during World War II – and a few years after.

Archivist Joe Penza recently provided the Elizabethton Star with a look at the latest addition to the facility, documents ranging from roughly 1942 to 1956 provided by resident Bill Armstrong.

Scattered throughout Armstrong’s provided documents were different items from longtime city and county leader, B.E. Wooten, including different correspondences by letter.

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One of the more unique items donated helped provide a bit of information on how life was during World War II in Carter County — minutes from the 1942 Carter County Ration Board.

According to information provided by the World War II  National Museum website, the U.S. Office of Price Administration set up a system of rationing that would “fairly” distribute foods that were in short supply during the war.

Different items were restricted, including rubber, eggs, milk, metal, coffee, clothing and sugar, while transportation was limited due to gasoline and tire rationing.

Due to the shortages, every American was issued a series of books during the war, which included removable stamps for different rationed items. Information provided by the museum indicated that a person could not buy an item without giving the grocery the right stamp and that when someone’s stamps diminished for the month, it meant that individual couldn’t buy that good anymore for that roughly 30-day period.

Over 8,000 ration boards across the country administered the program, including Carter County.

Penza pointed out that Wooten was the secretary of the board, and the handbook donated by Armstrong showcases the different steps the board had to take to distribute coupons. Included were stamps for donated rationed goods that were used locally.

Another part of the donation was a document from the Elizabethton Planning Commission, dated near the 1950s, about recreation within the area. The book was made prior to the creation of the City of Elizabethton’s Parks and Recreation Department and outlines the different aspects the guidelines and specs leaders hoped the department could accomplish for residents.

Penza added the items were intriguing to view due to the different amounts of history included. Also included with the city and county documents were letters written by Wooten to colleagues and family.

The ECCPL offers a variety of documents available for viewing when it comes to the history of Elizabethton and Carter County. To view documents housed at the facility, visit the office and ask to speak with Penza.