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Austin Treasures: Online Exhibits from the Austin History Center Austin Treasures Home Austin History Center Home

graphic: Uncle Sam Red Points and Ration Cards: Life in Austin during World War II graphic: Let's go USA
Exhibit Overview
Doing Our Part Doing Our Part
For the Duration
Military Installations
Photograph of Mayor Tom Miller on fire truck in front of White Pharmacy sign
Home Away From Home
Serving Our Country
Elnora Douglass
Victory at Long Last
Mayor Tom Miller joined the ladies perched atop this fire truck during the installation of the Community Chest billboard at Sixth and Congress in 1941. As the United States involvement in the War intensified, the name of the fundraiser was changed to the Austin Community and War Chest as a part of the National War Fund.
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Photograph of magnesium plant During the summer of 1941, the Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Lower Colorado River Authority joined forces to acquire a wartime industry for the Austin area. Located north of the city, their industry--a magnesium plant--employed 600 to 700 people during its peak, but was officially closed in October of 1944. In placing the government-owned plant on a list of surplus war industries, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation noted that it was third lowest in production costs, but "badly located, both with respect to its source of raw materials and its consuming market." The facility found new life, however, as the Balcones Research Center of the University of Texas.
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"Austin's huge magnesium plant that is taking form north of town is not a fly-by-night proposition that will fold up after the war is over, high officials of the company assured Saturday.

Louis Ware, president of the International Minerals and Chemical company that will operate the plant, and several members of the company staff were there to inspect the work already started.

'Magnesium is a young metal,' he said, 'one that has its future tied up with the newest things in the world today--air traffic. As a metal, it is one-third lighter than aluminum and 16 times as strong as steel per pound of weight. It is definitely going places.'"
Austin American-Statesman, March 1, 1942
Photograph of children posed behind sand sculpture This U.S. Navy insignia created by West Austin Playground children won first place in the 1943 sandcraft exhibit sponsored by the City of Austin Recreation Department. The Department's annual report for that year noted that "intensive instruction was given to any interested boy or girl during the month of June" in preparation for the annual event, and that the "themes were largely patriotic."
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Photograph of three women in uniform Mrs. L. B. Griffith, Miss Dolly Maude Harris, and Mrs. Betty Anne Coffman were among the Austin Women Volunteer Services' (AWVS) members who helped deliver the 1942 Austin telephone directory. As more and more able-bodied men were drafted into military services, women and minorities were called upon to fill shortages the war created.
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Photograph of uniformed man and woman holding flagpole with other women in background A group of seventy-six WAC recruits were sworn in by Colonel O.P. Houston in this ceremony on the south steps of the Capitol. Originally known as the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), the group's name was changed to the Women's Army Corps by Congressional action in 1943. Texan Oveta Culp Hobby served as the national director.
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Photograph of submarine on platform parked in street beside Littlefield Fountain at the University of Texas campus "Banner bond selling marked the weekend for Austin.
The visit of the two-man Japanese submarine Saturday and Sunday resulted in sales which were expected to total $225,000 when stamp sales were totaled.
And that wasn't all. A Negro bond rally held Sunday with [Doris] Dorie Miller, Negro hero of Pearl Harbor as the honored guest, was expected to total a bond sale of from four to five thousand dollars…."
The Austin Statesman, January 25, 1943
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