The Reality of Rationing in World War II

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The United States government asked the American public to make many sacrifices during World War II. One of the manifestations of this was rationing resources. Thus, ration stamps were soon a hot item throughout the United States.

In 1942 the Emergency Price Control Act granted the Office of Price Administration the ability to set price limits and ration food and other commodities. Thus, Americans were soon rationing coffee, cheese, fats, canned fish, canned milk, and even gasoline.
Americans received ration books that allowed them to buy a designated amount of a good so long as they would give over the stamp when purchasing that good. Hence, if a person has 5 stamps for 8 ounces of sugar each, then they they are limited to that (40 ounces total of sugar). Over ninety-one percent of the US population registered for these booklets during World War II.

In truth, an entire barter system was established. People would trade their stamps to one another leading to a ration stamp Black Market. Below are a set of ration stamps for gasoline. These stamps are in a scrapbook assembled by George Richter of Ridgewood, New Jersey. This scrapbook donated by George Richter’s son, Martin Richter, Lehigh University professor emeritus, and it contains a plethora of newspaper clippings and other World War II memorabilia. A guide (finding aid) to the the scrapbook is created by Special Collections Collections student assistant Daniella Fodera, Class of 2018.

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Interestingly enough, according to Wired magazine (This day in Tech: Dec. 1942: Mandatory Gas Rationing, Lots of Whining) there was no gasoline shortage. Rather, the United States government rationed gasoline to keep people from nonessential driving. This is because rubber was in high demand. The government wanted to limit the amount of car wheels being manufactured for consumers so that the excess rubber could go towards the war movement.

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Lehigh University Turkey Trot

“The turkey squawked, the people gawked, and William Mountain got the bird as he won the  Turkey Trot…”

Thus was the headline in the Brown and White after the first Turkey Trot was held on Wednesday, November 14, 1956.  Drinker 4 was the triumphant hall.  The Turkey Trot has remained a Lehigh University tradition ever since.  It is a grueling 2.6 mile race with an ever shifting course.  As it is Lehigh’s campus, there is always a vertical run up “the hill” that leaves participants feeling the effects days after.  It was originally exclusively for residential halls and living fraternities.  Now, the Turkey Trot is open to all students.  The Turkey Trot celebrates two holidays: Thanksgiving and the Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry.

Recent years have amassed as many as 800 participants in the race.  Racers join in teams.   Runners are known to show up in outlandish outfits for the race.  One can see neon blobs and even the occasional Santa running the cross-country style race.  The Turkey Trot is entering its 58th year at Lehigh University.  It is one of the longest traditions Lehigh has and many are dedicated keeping it alive.

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Runners of the Turkey Trot, circa 1970

 

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“Pick Billy Sheridan”

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1951 newspaper clipping

February 10, 1951 issue of the Nassau Review (Hempstead, NH) reports that Lehigh’s legendary wrestling coach William “Billy” Sheridan was selected as the coach in charge of the United States team in the Pan-American in Buenos Aires.

The Brown and White’s story states that Lehigh freshman Werner Seel qualified to be in the team along with Coach Sheridan. However, Seel chooses not to go “due to studies”:

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Remembering the First Founder’s Day

On October 17th Lehigh will be celebrating its 136th Founder’s Day with a ceremony at 4:00 pm in Packer Memorial Chapel.

Founder’s Day is a long celebrated tradition.  Its first celebration came the same year as the death of the University’s founder, Asa Packer. On June 18th, 1879 alumni Rossiter W. Raymond addressed the Alumni Association of Lehigh University.

The keynote speech celebrated Packer’s legacy.  Rossiter pronounced, “Whereas, By the death of the Hon. Asa Packer the Lehigh Valley has lost a citizen, to whom it owes, more than to any other man, its present development and wealth, and the Lehigh University has lost a friend who held it ever close to his heart…”  and continued, “…It is also fitting that we should give expression to the admiration which we feel for his character as a man, for the life which he lived, and for the good which he did ; and that we desire to render him just praise…”

Packer was a skilled businessman who made his fortune in the railroad industry and then founded Lehigh University with a portion of his wealth.  Rossiter’s speech moves on to the obstacle of defining success in our lives.  You can read this inspiring address given on our first Founder’s Day in its entirety:

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Cover of Rossiter W. Raymond’s first Founder’s Day address

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American Iris for Norman Merriman

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Hidden in plain sight beneath the Drown Hall patio is a small plaque among the irises that offers remembrance for Norman Merriman. Merriman was the youngest of the five children of Mansfield Merriman, a well-known professor of Civil Engineering at Lehigh University from 1878 to 1907.

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Norman Merriman graduated from Lehigh in the Class of 1905 and went on to find his own financial accounting firm, Merriman, Bannister, & Co. He died in his office in 1944. Next time you walk around campus, look around for what you may find could be a little piece of history on the ground, in the flower beds, under your feet…

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“How to tell the age of a river”

Have you ever wondered how to tell how old the water is… in your glass, on a river bed? Lehigh Libraries’ shelves are full of books like this one and many others that can teach you extraordinary skills!

Richmond E. Myers. Lehigh Valley: The Unsuspected. The newspaper writings of Dr. Richmond E. Myers as published in the Bethlehem Globe-Times and the Allentown Sunday Call-Chronicle from 1955-1972. Easton (Pa.) : Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society,  1972.

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Title page of Lehigh Valley: The Unsuspected

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“instructions” on how to tell the age of a river, in this case Lehigh River

 

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Lehigh’s Library Guides Get A Fresh Look

The Lehigh Libraries are pleased to announce a new version of our library guides. The guides now have a modern interface that is compatible with mobile devices. In addition, the subject librarians have freshened up the content in order to showcase the libraries’ broad range of resources and databases.

Faculty who are interested in tailored course guides should contact their subject librarian.

Next time you get stuck in your research, take a look at a library guide and let a helpful librarian show you the ropes!

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Freshmen Rally

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Class of 1972 members at the Freshmen Rally with dinks and corncob pipes, 1968.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lehigh in “The Blue and White”

A passage from an article in the June 1914 issue of The Blue and White, “published bi-monthly by the pupils of the South Bethlehem High School, South Bethlehem, Pa.”:

“Down on the Canal job at Panama, in the mines of and forests of Canada and Mexico, in the Orient, in South Africa, and in many other remote place of the earth, says an article in a recent number of The College Magazine, “groups of young engineers are looking ahead, planning and dreaming of a great trip home in 1916. Then they hope to join the ranks of certain captains and lieutenants and corporals of industry who will come out from the big plants and offices of the United States to invade Lehigh Valley. Besides these technical graduates there will be a smaller but important representation of arts and Science men -men who have been successful in the professions in business and teaching. The great time toward which all of them are looking is the jubilee anniversary of their Alma Mater –Lehigh University.”

by Homer Bachert, Class of 1914, South Bethlehem High School (Lehigh Class of 1920, Electrical Engineering)

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Cover of The Blue and White, June 1914

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“A Declaration”

In honor of this July 4th weekend, Special Collections would like to share one of the earliest printed appearances of the Declaration of Independence from The Pennsylvania Gazette, July 10, 1776 issue, published by Ben Franklin, the legendary printer, the signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Happy 4th of July!

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Sages of the Pages