Homefront WWII Study Guide

Vol. 2 "Home Front USA" ("Profiles of Courage, Controversy & Sacrifice"

Homefront WWII examines the many ways that America changed after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The United States was now in a war it had sought to avoid, and Americans mobilized and sacrificed for the war effort at home.

In response to anti-Japanese hysteria on the West Coast, more than 100,000 Japanese Americans are removed to internment camps. The video examines living conditions in the camps, the impact of internment on these American citizens, and our government’s acknowledgement 40 years later that internment of these citizens was a mistake.

The program explores our country’s efforts at civil defense, including air raid drills and blackouts, as well as the domestic propaganda campaigns orchestrated by the Office of War Information to “sell the war” to citizens. Americans from all walks of life mobilized to man the war plants – men, teenagers, the elderly, and women inspired by Rosie the Riveter.

The program examines how everyday life changed at home with rationing of 20 essential commodities, including meat, sugar, rubber, and gasoline; the planting of victory gardens; and the scrap drives to collect metal, paper, and rubber. The video also discusses bond drives and the role celebrities played in selling war bonds, and, finally, the critical roles played by women recruited by the armed services for non-combat duties at home and overseas.

Learning Objectives
∙  Evaluate the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the impact on civil liberties.
∙  Explain how the American citizens mobilized at home to aid the war effort.
∙  Analyze the effects of World War II on gender roles.
∙  Assess the role of the government and mass media in promoting the war and nationalism.


Vocabulary words appear in the order they are presented in the video.

1. Japanese-American internment – Fearing Americans of Japanese ancestry might cooperate with a Japanese invasion of the West Coast after Pearl Harbor, federal  officials, acting on authority of Executive Order 9066 signed by Franklin Roosevelt in 1942, forcibly relocated over 100,000 Japanese-Americans to internment camps inland.

2. V-J Day – Americans celebrated “Victory over Japan” on August 15, 1945, when word that the Japanese would surrender reached the United States; the war in the Pacific ended officially on September 2, 1945, when Japan surrendered aboard in U.S.S. Missouri.

3. propaganda – Spreading information or ideas supporting or opposing a cause.

4. Rosie the Riveter – An image that symbolized patriotic women defense workers during World War II.

5. rationing – Regulating the distribution of scarce items or commodities.

6. black market – Illicit trading of goods.

Viewing Questions

1. What did Executive Order 9066 authorize? (The removal of all Japanese Americans from the West Coast.)

2. What happened to Japanese Americans living on the West Coast as a result of the order? (They had to report to the War Relocation Authority and sell, store, or abandon their property because they were allowed only what they could carry; they were transported first to temporary quarters and then to internment camps in the interior of the United States; they lived behind barbed wire and were watched by guards; each family is given $50 when the camps are closed after Japan surrenders.)

3. Describe the duties of civil defense workers during World War II. (They enforced air raid drills and blackouts; served as plane spotters; trained to fight fires; and distributed gas masks.)

4. What was the role of the Office of War Information during World War II? (To boost morale and sell the war to the country by using posters and other mass media; repeated images and messages helped to unite the military and home front, warn against leaking sensitive information, soothe anxiety, and involve every American in the struggle for victory.)

5. How did America’s entry into World War II end the lingering effects of the Great Depression? (The military’s need for manpower and war materials eliminated unemployment from the Depression.)

6. How did America mobilize to meet the need for manpower and materials? (Millions left non-essential jobs to work in war plants; Americans worked a mandatory 48-hour workweek; automobile plants are converted to make aircraft; teenagers, the elderly, convicts, and women work to fill the labor shortage.)

7. What did Rosie the Riveter symbolize? (The new 1940s woman who encouraged women to get to work at jobs deemed inappropriate for women before the war.)

8. What issues did the influx of women into the workplace raise? (Issues concerning the departure from traditional roles for women, including child care and men not wanting their wives to work, and concerns about future job security when men returned to work after the war.)

9. What items were rationed during the war? (Twenty essential commodities, including sugar, rubber, meat, and gasoline.)

10. Why did the Department of Agriculture urge Americans to plant victory gardens? (To offset the food shortage.)

11. What was the purpose of scrap drives? (To supplement supplies of raw materials for the war effort, including rubber metal, and paper; the drives also allow everyone to contribute to the war effort.)

12. How does the entertainment industry help with the war effort? (Stars help sell war bonds and they entertain members of the armed forces and their families at U.S.O. facilities.)

13. Why did Congress create the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1942? (To free more men for combat.)

14. What types of duties did women in uniform perform during World War II? (Non-combat duties at home and overseas, including such jobs as administrative roles, aircraft mechanics, and delivery of aircraft from factories to airfields.)

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