Extension Service rural programs in Iowa after Pearl Harbor

When the bombs dropped on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States was catapulted into World War II. Although the United States had remained neutral while countries in Europe and Asia had gone to war, Americans all over the country were keenly following events overseas and trying to understand them. The people of Iowa were no different.

"The Iowa Farmer and World War II" Extension Service pamphlet from March 1941.

“The Iowa Farmer and World War II” Extension Service pamphlet from March 1941. Box 16, folder 5, William H. Stacy Papers, RS 16/3/57.

Seven days after Pearl Harbor, on December 12, during a regularly-scheduled radio program, Iowa State College Extension Sociologist Bill Stacy outlined efforts already underway by community groups to understand the world around them:

“The 4-H girls’ clubs, for three years, have been studying a ‘World Conscious Program.’ …Out of school Rural Young People have organized programs in 61 counties. This year these groups have as the theme for their major study, ‘Our Job in Strengthening Democracy.’…Farm women’s groups for a third year, are studying ‘The Farm Family and the World Today’….Then, as you know, the Extension Service has published eight circulars in a series called ‘The Challenge to Democracy'” (Script for Radio Dialogue in Box 10, Folder 1, William H. Stacy Papers, RS 16/3/57).

Understanding and supporting democracy as a means of combating the totalitarianism of the Axis Powers was of prime importance. Stacy also emphasized the need to bring communities together to support war efforts and also to support the well-being of citizens during a time of national stress and hardship.

Iowa State Extension Service 1942 Annual Report, "Iowa On the Front Line of the Food Front."

Iowa State Extension Service 1942 Annual Report, “Iowa On the Front Line of the Food Front.” Box 16, folder 5, William H. Stacy Papers, RS 16/3/57.

During World War II, every effort and activity was directed toward the war, and Iowa State College Extension Service put its shoulder to the wheel throughout all its departments. Extension agronomists supported programs for higher crop production throughout the state. Home Economics Extension nutritionists developed programs to keep Iowans strong and healthy. Home management specialists helped homemakers to make do with less and save on resources needed for the war. Rural Sociology Extension, headed by Bill Stacy, supported community councils and assisted community leaders with discussion programs. Even recreation programs were designed to ease wartime tensions!

Stacy created the Program Service for Rural Leaders, guides to be used by community organizations for leading discussions on timely topics with suggestions for different types of recreational activities. One Program Service from February 1943 included in a pamphlet on “American Square Dances for Wartime Relaxation” that included a Victory Reel!

 "American Square Dances for Wartime Relaxation" pamphlet. Box 16, folder 5, William H. Stacy Papers, RS 16/3/57.

“American Square Dances for Wartime Relaxation” pamphlet. Box 16, folder 5, William H. Stacy Papers, RS 16/3/57.

To learn more about wartime Extension Service programs in Iowa, see the William Homer Stacy Papers (RS 16/3/57) and the Ralph Kenneth Bliss Papers (RS 16/3/13). For other World War II-related collections, check out our Subject Guide for World War II manuscript collections.

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