“Victory depends in large measure on the increased war production we are able to get from our factories and arsenals…This is total war. We are all under fire…soldiers and civilians alike-no one is a spectator. To win we must fight, and to fight we must produce.”
– Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The Army Navy “E” Award, or the Excellence in War Production Award, was created to encourage the production of materials needed for the United States’ complete military mobilization effort. The “E” Awards program began in July 1942, as an honor presented to the top performers of the civilian war industry during World War II. Excellence in quality and quantity of production were two of the determining factors in granting the awards. Others included: overcoming production obstacles; low rate of absenteeism; avoidance of work stoppages; maintenance of fair labor standards; training of additional labor forces; effective management; record on accidents, health, sanitation, and plant protection: utilization of sub-contracting facilities; cooperation between management and labor as it affected production; and conservation of critical and strategic materials. The award consisted of a pennant for the plant and pins for all employees.
The presentation of the “E” Award was made in a formal ceremony with trappings that included printed invitations and programs. Some of these programs were elaborate booklets filled with photographs touting the war production efforts of the firm.
Some early award ceremonies included receptions and dinners, such as the one planned for the Manufacturers Machine and Tool Co., Inc. in November 1942. The ceremony was held at the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Astor, and included a cocktail hour and multi-course dinner with drink pairings.
By mid-1943, the government had decided to standardize the ceremonies and limit them to a maximum of 30 minutes. In order to cut down on expenses, and to minimize time lost on production, extras such as drinks, dinners, and dances were prohibited.
By the time the program ended in 1945, the “E” Award had been presented to 4,283 of the nation’s war production facilities (approximately 5 percent). Honorary N-YHS curator Bella Landauer, who recognized the importance of saving ephemera as it was created, was determined to document this aspect of life during WWII, and set out to collect as many of these programs as she could. Landauer kept track of the awards as they were announced, and then sent letters to each company requesting copies of their “E” Award programs. Most were happy to oblige. These programs and related material, from a wide array of companies and industries across the United States, eventually totaled 15 linear feet, and are now part of the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library‘s Bella C. Landauer Ephemera Collection.
All images from the Bella C. Landauer Collection, PR 31 Series VII.
This post was written by Marybeth Kavanagh, Processing Archivist.