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When people scrapped metals to help the war effort, 1942


During World War II, the United States government encouraged the American people to participate in scrap drives, a way of contributing to the war effort. For example, by recycling unused or unwanted metal, the government can manufacture ships, airplanes, and other equipment needed to win a war.

Citizens were told to scour their homes and businesses for excess metal. From pots and pans to metal toys, from car bumpers to agricultural equipment—any metal was considered valuable. Communities pelted cannons of the Civil War and broke down iron fences, sacrificing their history for their future.

When people came together to find scrap metal, these drives became large community events that included artists, speeches and games.

In Lubbock, Texas, a statue of Hitler was erected as a target for patriotic citizens to throw away their unwanted items. Competitions were held to see which city, county, and state produced the most scrap, and the winners claimed their feats.

From June 15-30, 1942, the United States organized a nationwide rubber drive. People brought old or overpriced tyres, raincoats, hot water bottles, shoes and floor mats. In return, he received a penny a pound. Although 450,000 tonnes of scrap rubber was collected, the rubber used was found to be of poor quality.


A paper drive in mid-1942 brought in so much paper that the mills were flooded and a stop was actually called for. However, by 1944 an acute paper shortage existed.

Boy Scouts and local schools organize regular paper drives, often coordinated with tin drives. The War Production Board began the Paper Troopers program designed to sound like "paratroopers" to engage schoolchildren in the effort.

Most Americans saw the scrap drive as a patriotic duty to contribute their time and their products. However, historians debate how necessary the scrap drives were and whether they helped the United States defeat Germany, Italy, and Japan.

While not all scrap materials proved useful, many provided a small but important source of material. Most importantly, these drives strengthened the Home Front and instilled a sense of patriotic unity.





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