"Rosie the homemaker": How national and local publications influenced women in Central Iowa on the home front during World Wars I and II

Yanni, Alyssa
Major Professor
Pamela Riney-Kehrberg
Committee Member
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World Wars I and II had an enormous effect on the United States home front. Women found their responsibilities increasing and for some of them, this was their first time entering the workplace as they learned to balance work and their domestic responsibilities. Above all else, their domestic responsibilities remained of the utmost priority as they worked diligently to provide square, wholesome meals for their children.

As the effects of the war pressed down upon the United States, food restrictions were put in place. During World War I, rationing was not mandatory, but instead, the United States Food Administration promoted to women the need for wheatless and meatless meals to conserve necessary food items for the men and Allies overseas. Women signed and hung food pledges that showed their support of the conservation efforts. In World War II, rationing became mandatory and women had the newfound challenge of creating nutritious meals within their ration stamp restrictions. With both World War I and World War II, the government and advertisers along with newspapers and magazines published images and articles that reflected the nation at war and the crucial role women played at home in the war effort.

In Iowa, both World War I and World War II were felt greatly by the populace as the wars transformed the industries present in the state. Munitions factories recruited women and farmland became a tool as farmers grew the crops most needed for the war effort. Most Iowans were patriotic for the cause and wanted to do their part to try and bring a swift end to the wars. The local newspapers published recipes and menu ideas along with Extension agents going to the rural communities to promote the purchasing of war bonds, the growing of Victory Gardens, and the importance of conservation.