Title:
Indiana in World War II—A Progress Report

Author:
Lynn W. Turner

Date:
1956

Source:
Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 1-20

Article Type:
Article

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Indiana in World War II—A Progress Report

Lynn W. Turner*

"What will History say?" asked Major Swindon of General Burgoyne, just before they surrendered to the despised colonials at Saratoga.

"History, sir, will tell lies, as usual," replied Burgoyne. That, at any rate, is what George Bernard Shaw, in The Devil's Disciple, thinks he said. Now Shaw, who did as much violence to history as any man who ever wrote a play, probably had his own tongue in his cheek as was his custom when he put these words into General Burgoyne's mouth. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of truth in them. Especially when it comes to wars, what is accepted by the average man as history is likely to be a thick accretion of legends and stereotypes. These are usually more comfortable and more flattering than the truth—and it is certainly much easier to invent them than it is to dig out the disillusioning facts, especially when no records can be found in which to do the digging. So, sometimes by default, history becomes a weapon for the propagandist, a coat of whitewash for the blunderer, or a lovely fairy tale for the children rather than the uncompromising, bitter-sweet, let-the-chips-fall-where-they-may presentment of evidence which it ought to be.

The basic reason for the organization of the Indiana War History Commission in 1942 was to guarantee, so far as humanly possible, that history would tell no lies in recounting Indiana's part an World War II.1 Its immediate concern during the war years was the preservation of records—a task which it


  • * Lynn W. Turner is associate professor of history at Indiana University and director of the Indiana War History Commission. This paper was read at the December, 1955, meeting of the Indiana Historical Society, and is here reprinted with some modification.
  • 1 John D. Barnhart, "The Indiana War History Commission," Indiana Magazine of History (Bloomington, 1905-), XL (1944), 228–229.
attempted to perform so thoroughly that no gaps would be left as open invitations for the myth-makers. The end of the war brought the collecting phase of the commission's work to a virtual close. It then turned to the other indispensable part of its mission, embodied in the 1947 act of the general assembly which made it an independent state agency to "write, publish and sell a comprehensive history of the state's war activities."2 The commission subsequently decided that the execution of this mandate required the production of a ten-volume series to which was given the general title Indiana in World War II. Three of these proposed volumes—a gold star honor roll, a book of letters from Hoosiers in the armed services, and a history of military installations within the state—were to cover the purely military side of Indiana's war effort. A fourth was to be a general survey and personnel directory of civilian war service in federal and state agencies and private organizations. Four of the remaining volumes were to deal respectively with the industrial, agricultural, financial, and social history of Indiana during the war years. Another book was to cover the story of civilian defense in all of its ramifications, and the final volume was planned as a popular summary of the entire series. Of these ten projected volumes, three have been published and are on the market, two are now ready for publication, and three more are in various stages of advanced preparation.3 Thus it is apparent that the research has been finished for eight of the ten volumes and the entire project is rapidly nearing its original goal. The work is far enough advanced that its final impact can be estimated: the rough outlines of the picture are clearly visible and the details have been filled in for a great portion of the canvas. To some degree this paper may serve as the forerunner of that last volume—the summary of the series—by attempting to evaluate the results of more than a decade of research.

The services of a special commission were not required to measure Indiana's participation in the war effort statistically. It is well known that the state furnished approximately 363,000 men and women to the armed forces of the nation and that more than 10,000 of these gave their lives in their


  • 2Laws of Indiana, 1947, I, 825.
  • 3 See appendix at the end of this article.
country's service.4 Federal statisticians declare that Indiana's manufacturers produced $3,200,000,000 worth of war goods and that new war factories, costing more than a billion dollars, were erected within her boundaries.5 Agricultural production in Indiana increased by 49 per cent during the war years,6 the annual production of the coal mines almost doubled,7 and the number of employed grew by more than 66 per cent.8 Hoosiers purchased $3,085,000,000 worth of war bonds, while, at the same time, paying nearly two and three-quarter billion dollars in taxes.9 These figures are imposing but their significance is clarified only by comparisons with national totals or with the accomplishments of neighboring states. It is instructive, for example, to learn that while Indiana contained 2.6 per cent of the male population of the United States in 1940, she contributed only 2.5 per cent of the men in the armed forces and only 2.2 per cent of those who enlisted voluntarily, while Californians, who made up 5.3 per cent of the population, comprised 5.9 per cent of the armed forces and 7.4 per cent of the volunteers.10 A more flattering comparison is that Indiana, which ranks twelfth among her sister states in population, raised herself during the war from ninth place to seventh in the total value of industrial products and that she ranked no less than third in the nation in her ratio of war production to population.11

What conclusions may be drawn from these facts? It is dangerous enough even for experts to venture interpretations of contemporary history, but what this paper attempts is doubly perilous, since it proposes to generalize upon others' interpretations. Doubly distilled deductions usually either lose the original qualities of the brew entirely, or emerge as concentrations too potent to be exposed to the public. Whichever


  • 4Quotas, Calls and Inductions (Selective Service System, Special Monograph No. 12, Washington, 1948), II, 136–137. Indiana War History Commission, Gold Star Honor Roll, Adams County (Bloomington, 1949), foreword.
  • 5 George M. Blackburn, "The Hoosier Arsenal" (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, department of history, Indiana University, 1956), 482.
  • 6 Lynn W. Turner and Heber P. Walker (comps.), Indiana at War: Civilian Directory (Bloomington, 1951), 526.
  • 7 R. C. Freytag, "The Indiana Coal Industry's Part in World War II," Indiana Magazine of History, XLI (1945), 265–266.
  • 8 Blackburn, "Hoosier Arsenal," 489.
  • 9 Turner and Walker, Indiana at War, 788–789.
  • 10Quotas, Calls and Inductions, II, 136–137.
  • 11 Blackburn, "Hoosier Arsenal," 482.
this may be, here are some of the things worth remembering that may have been discovered through the commission's studies of Indiana's participation in World War II.

First of all, the war offered some proof that the proud boast "INDIANA—The Center of Almost Everything" is not simply Chamber of Commerce propaganda but reasonably demonstrable fact. Whether because of her geographical location at the center of population, her unique combination of distance from the coasts but proximity to markets, her natural resources, her transportation network, her skilled labor, her diversified industry, her educational system, the skill of her politicians, or a judicious mixture of all these factors, it is certainly apparent that Indiana was attractive both to military officers planning the location of key installations and to governmental officials searching for the placement of war contracts. "They like us down in Washington," Governor M. Clifford Townsend reported after a visit to the capital as early as December, 1940.12 Nor was this just a politician's statement for home consumption. Already by that time Du Pont had nearly finished construction of the gigantic Hoosier Ordnance Plant at Charlestown, contracts had been awarded for the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant at the other end of the state, the Navy had taken over half of Martin County for the development of a billion dollar ammunition storage depot, and the Army had announced plans for developing a fifty-six thousand acre proving ground in the hills behind Madison.13 When World War II began there were only two major military installations in Indiana—Fort Benjamin Harrison and the Jeffersonville Quartermaster Depot. Before it ended there were thirty-one—ten ordnance plants, seven air bases, six storage depots, five training camps, two great general hospitals, and the Army's largest proving ground. The military contribution made by these installations was considerable, but the economic and social consequences of their presence in Indiana were even more significant.

The story of the role which Indiana industry and labor played in the war is fundamentally the same although the chronological pattern is different. Principally because no Indiana


  • 12 Cedric Cummins, "History of the Indiana State Defense Council" (unfinished MS, War History Commission files, Indiana University, Bloomington), 11.
  • 13 Dorothy Riker (comp.), The Hoosier Training Ground (Bloomington, 1952), 358–359.
city plays the dominant role in any major industry which Detroit, for example, exerts in the automotive world, Hoosier factories were backward about getting into defense production during 1940 and 1941. To some extent this was a matter of deliberate choice, reflecting an isolationist attitude toward world affairs and a Republican distrust of New Deal politicians. But it soon became a cause for alarm—the major contracts were going to the great metropolitan centers and Indiana was not getting her share. Curtailment of purely civilian goods such as automobiles and washing machines by government fiat, shrinking stockpiles of strategic materials, and "priorities unemployment" actually brought a serious threat of depression to Indiana during the months just preceding Pearl Harbor.14 American entry into the war and a vigorous campaign of protest in which Hoosier congressmen and industrialists took a leading part soon brought Indiana from somewhere near the rear of the industrial parade to a front rank. Evansville, for example, turned from the production of refrigerators and automobiles to bullets, airplane engines, and LST's. In 1941 she was facing a problem of severe unemployment: by 1943 she was listed by the War Manpower Commission as an area of critical labor shortage.15

One of the finished manuscripts in the possession of the War History Commission is a history of Indiana's war production record by George M. Blackburn, a former research assistant. Much of this five-hundred-page manuscript is devoted to a recital of simple but incredible facts. There is the story of Kaufman T. Keller, president of Chrysler Corporation, who was asked by Army Ordnance if his Plymouth assembly plant at Evansville could produce .45 caliber cartridges by the billion. His answer was simply, "Yes," and when the startled Army officer asked if decisions of this magnitude were always so readily made, Keller replied, "Not always, Colonel, but we have been hearing more and more about billions in recent years. I still can't imagine what a billion is like, so I'd like to make billions of something and find out." The Evansville plant obliged Keller by turning out 3,264,281,934 cartridges—96 per cent of all the .45 caliber ammunition fabricated for the armed forces.16


  • 14 Blackburn, "Hoosier Arsenal," 123–134.
  • 15Ibid., 136–138; Evansville Courier, July 2, 15, and 23,1941.
  • 16 Blackburn, "Hoosier Arsenal," 208–209. Quotation from Wesley W. Stout, Bullets by the Billion (Detroit, 1946), 1–2.

There was similar drama behind the 70,000 liquid-cooled airplane engines produced by the Allison plant in Indianapolis, and behind Studebaker's stepping up production of her B-17 engines from ten a month to twenty-three hundred.17 The Indiana Ordnance Works made one and a half billion pounds of smokeless powder, the Bridgeport Brass plant in Indianapolis produced more than a billion pounds of its product, Guide Lamp at Anderson turned out thirty-six million shell cases, Pullman-Standard at Hammond built thirty-nine hundred tanks, Jeffersonville Shipyard, a thousand miles away from the ocean, launched one hundred thirty-three LST's.18 Such figures could be continued ad infinitum. Indiana furnished 30 per cent of the electronics gear for the armed forces, 75 per cent of their forty millimeter armor-piercing shells, 92 per cent of their needle bearings, 60 per cent of the extruded aluminum, and 98 per cent of the solenoids.19 There were also unique contributions: Bloomington RCA's variable time fuse which the navy regarded as second only to the atom bomb as a wartime scientific achievement,20 the Indianapolis Naval Ordnance plant's Norden bombsight, Studebaker's amphibious weasel, and even an improved pancake turner created by a modest New Albany manufacturer who admitted that "none of the Generals have mentioned in their memoirs that this played a substantial part in any of their campaigns."21

Lest it be supposed that Blackburn's study is a long paean of undiscriminating praise for Indiana industry, let it be understood that he does not hesitate to record instances where Hoosier ingenuity failed or Hoosier rascality prevailed. The first exercise of compulsory federal requisition during the war occurred in a Valparaiso junkyard where the proprietor was hoarding precious scrap.22 In Indiana, as elsewhere, manufacturers failed to reach their quotas, resisted government


  • 17 Blackburn, "Hoosier Arsenal," 483–484; Studebaker Spotlight (South Bend), September, 1945.
  • 18 Blackburn, "Hoosier Arsenal," 485–486. Indianapolis Star, August 20, 1945. Bridgeport Brass News (Bridgeport, Connecticut), October, 1945. Guide Light (Anderson, Indiana), August 31, 1945; this is the plant publication of the Guide Lamp Division, General Motors Corporation. Gary Post-Tribune, May 24, 1945. Courier-Journal (Louisville), August 19, 1945.
  • 19 Blackburn, "Hoosier Arsenal," 486, 484, 309, 338, 345.
  • 20Ibid.,486.
  • 21 Edward M. Gardner to Lynn Turner, New Albany, October 5, 1948, War History Commission files.
  • 22 Blackburn, "Hoosier Arsenal," 257.
expediters, quarreled unnecessarily with the labor unions, hoarded, or defrauded the government. It is safe to say, however, that there was much less of this kind of thing than in any previous war in our history. The major fiascos—an unfinished synthetic rubber plant at Gary, for example, upon which five million dollars were wasted without an ounce of rubber being produced,23 or the ghost city at Kingsford Heights, where fewer than one-sixth of the 3,000 new dwellings erected by the National Housing Agency were ever occupied24—could be blamed either upon unforeseeable developments in a rapidly changing war, or upon poor planning by federal bureaucrats. The granting of Army-Navy "E" awards to 174 Indiana factories affords some evidence that Hoosier management and labor alike regarded their daily work in the light of patriotic duty during the war years.25

A second generalization which emerges very clearly from each of the commission's studies is that the war effort in Indiana had a pungent grass-roots flavor. So much emphasis has been placed by both friend and foe upon the federal bureaucracy in recent years that one gets an impression of monolithic government at Washington crushing out all local initiative and self-direction. This was certainly not true in Indiana. The record, in fact, shows that to a surprising degree, Indiana civilians fought the war in their own way, sometimes with better and sometimes with worse results than when it was entirely directed by national officials.

Civilian defense is an excellent illustration of this point. Indiana did not wait for directives from the federal government to begin organizing in this field: in fact, Hoosiers were somewhat overeager in their formation of early vigilante groups without legal authority. It was partly to channel this enthusiasm that Governor Townsend created an Emergency Defense Council on May 30, 1940, fully a year and a half before the United States became a full-fledged belligerent, and well before either the federal government or the other states


  • 23Ibid., 244–245. Gary Post-Tribune, May 27, August 18 and 19, 1942.
  • 24 Max Cavnes, "The Hoosier Community at War" (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, department of history, Indiana University, Bloomington, 1955), 186–195.
  • 25 Blackburn, "Hoosier Arsenal," 363. Hugh M. Ayer is writing a history of Indiana labor during the war years.
had given much thought to this activity.26 The general assembly replaced this rudimentary committee on March 10, 1941, with a combination of advisory and administrative councils which worked so smoothly that it became a model for many other state defense organizations. Under the energetic leadership of Clarence A. Jackson, the Indiana State Defense Council posted a brilliant record of accomplishment in coordinating the myriad facets of civilian defense and civilian services. Many of its activities were unique, an excellent example being the Indiana Plan of Bi-Racial Cooperation which attracted nationwide attention and received a special citation of merit from the national Office of Civilian Defense.27 The plan was itself a testimony to the state's sturdy independence, for it was conceived as a means of warding off compulsory fair employment decrees in Indiana by accomplishing the same objective through voluntary agreements. Headed by Theodore Cable of Indianapolis, a member of the State Advisory Defense Council, and J. Chester Allen, the Negro Activities Coordinator in the State Defense Council, the plan set up a number of biracial committees throughout the state. Their chief function was to bring management, labor, and Negro representatives together to plan for the equitable integration of the Negro labor potential into war industry and to mitigate racial discrimination in employment, housing, schools, and recreation. Success in the first of these objectives, at any rate, was indicated by a rise of 82 per cent in the number of Negroes employed by Indiana industries within a year.28

One of the earliest problems tackled by the Emergency Defense Council was the chaotic situation at Charlestown, Indiana,


  • 26 Cummins, "History of Defense Council," 4–7. The Division of State and Local Cooperation in the National Defense Advisory Commission, out of which later developed the Office of Civilian Defense, was not organized until August 2, 1940. Two eastern states claim to have preceded Indiana with defense organizations: in September, 1939, the governor of New Jersey appointed a State Emergency Committee which was merely advisory in character, and the governor of Virginia issued on May 29, 1940, effective on May 30, an executive order creating the Virginia Defense Council. This council held its first session on June 5, two days before Governor Townsend presided over the first session of his Emergency Defense Council. See Book of the States, (Chicago, 1935-), IV (1941), 36–37; the date given for the organization of the Indiana Defense Council in this reference is incorrect.
  • 27 Ralph F. Armstrong (ed.), Manual of Civilian Defense in Indiana (5th ed.; Indianapolis, 1943), 156–157.
  • 28 Indiana State Defense Council, Job Opportunities for Negroes (Indiana Plan of Bi-Racial Cooperation Pamphlet No. 4, n. p., 1943), 4.
produced by the building of a $150,000,000 powder plant employing more than 13,000 construction workers on the edge of a slumbering village of 900 inhabitants.29Charlestown became the earliest "boom town" of World War II, a prototype of hundreds to follow in nearly every state, including at least a dozen more in Indiana, and something of a national guinea pig for all the social experiments that were devised to meet the staggering problems of such overnight growth. With "powder workers" jammed into every garage and chicken coop, stacked four deep in the town's two restaurants and ten deep in its single tavern, congesting traffic all the way to Jeffersonville and crowding the natives off the village streets, the mere details of policing, sanitation, garbage disposal, schooling, and recreation became nightmares to the harried local officials.30 Neither the Du Pont Company nor the War Department assumed responsibility for anything beyond the plant's gates, and it was still too early in the defense program for any of the federal agencies which later multiplied like rabbits to offer advice. The state government came to the rescue by sending a defense co-ordinator to the aid of the bewildered town fathers. According to one of the priceless definitions that emerged from the war "A coordinator is a man who brings organized chaos out of regimented confusion."31 It would be foolish to pretend that anyone could have done more than impose a slight degree of organization upon the chaos at Charlestown but something was accomplished. At the suggestion of an Indiana University professor, for example, an official census was taken, thereby almost tripling the amount of gasoline tax refund to which the town was entitled.32 When federal agencies stepped in later with plans and money for sewer construction, recreational facilities, housing, and schools, the majority of Charlestown's citizens were duly grateful. The township trustee, however, upheld Indiana's ancient tradition of rugged individualism by abruptly cancelling plans for a new $600,000 school

  • 29 Blackburn, "Hoosier Arsenal," 58. Henry B. Steeg, "The Story of Charlestown" (MS, State Defense Council files, Indiana University), 12.
  • 30 Cavnes, "Hoosier Community," 28–32. Ralph F. Armstrong, "Indiana Plays Guinea Pig for a War Boom," Nation's Business (Washington, 1912-), May, 1941, p. 128.
  • 31 Blackburn, "Hoosier Arsenal," 366.
  • 32 Cavnes, "Hoosier Community," 43. John E. Stoner to C. J. Pangburn, Bloomington, April 21 and 25, 1941, State Defense Council files.
building which was being financed by the Public Works Administration—after eight months of work had gone into it.33

The defiant stand of the Charlestown Township trustee illustrates another aspect of the Hoosier's grass-roots attitude toward the war—his tendency to be suspicious and perhaps hypercritical of anything which emanated from Washington. Much of this jaundice was undoubtedly justified but some of it was simply pig-headed—unfortunately it is not always possible to classify the reaction. Even those Hoosiers who willingly gave hours of voluntary time to selective service boards, war price and rationing panels, or war finance committees were not loath to criticise what they considered to be the bungling of their superiors. During the early months of the war, the Department of the Treasury had developed two bond-selling organizations, one organized by internal revenue collector's districts for day-by-day sales, another based on federal reserve districts for the First War Loan Drive. Hoosier bond salesmen regarded this double-headed hydra as a wasteful duplication of overhead and effort. During the Second War Loan, the Victory Fund Committee and the War Savings Staff in Indiana combined their organizations so successfully that the Treasury Department adopted the scheme on a national scale and finished the war with a single War Finance Division. Under the leadership of Eugene C. Pulliam, more than eighty thousand volunteer workers in Indiana did an outstanding job of persuading their fellow Hoosiers to invest in their national government.34

One of Indiana's most vigorous critics of federal bureaucracy was Clarence Jackson, a Jeffersonian Democrat who expressed his opinion of Washington planners in forthright and colorful language. When Mayor Fiorello La Guardia of New York City became director of the national Office of Civilian Defense he displayed a natural tendency to ignore the states as "archaic" entities and to deal directly with the cities. He reckoned without Jackson, who carried on an epistolary feud with the Little Flower which made it crystal clear that civilian defense matters in Indiana would go through the state office—and so they did. "Please advise somebody," Jackson wrote on one particularly trying occasion,


  • 33 Cavnes, "Hoosier Community," 90–94. Charlestown Courier, October 2, 1941; May 21, 1942.
  • 34 Turner and Walker, Indiana at War, 788–789. Bernard Friedman is writing a volume on "Indiana's Financial Role in World War II."
"even if it's General Marshall, that they had better get a 14-year old office boy over there to handle some of these things, for we are telling you now that the next time this happens we are going to start raising hell in a big way."35 Jackson was not unco-operative—he saw to it that Indiana participated fully in every civilian defense measure planned in Washington, as well as many planned only by himself, but he did not surrender an iota of jurisdiction. The same thing can be said for James D. Strickland, who administered the terrifyingly complicated OPA system in Indiana from the day in 1941 when it consisted of himself and a secretary planning a tire rationing program until its demise six years later. More than 77,000 people, in a gigantic state office and 139 local boards, helped Strickland dole out the twenty rationed items and regulate the prices of every commodity purchased by the hapless civilian. This was the most unpopular of all the forms of regimentation endured by Hoosiers for the sake of victory, and it is a tribute to the patriotism of Strickland and at least thirty-one local board chairmen that they served in their uncomfortable capacity for the duration.36

Even in war activities that were not directed by the government, the Hoosier was apt to show a strong disinclination toward patronage and control. The USO, for example, actually operated very few servicemen's clubs or recreational centers in Indiana. Many of the more than seventy centers which appeared in the state during the war were started by conscientious local citizens before USO was organized, and continued to be operated by their founders, with or without USO funds, as long as they were needed.37 One of the most successful community organizations in the United States was the Indianapolis Servicemen's Centers, Inc., which operated six facilities in the capital city and offered Hoosier hospitality of almost every conceivable variety to nearly six million visiting soldiers and sailors. Under the remarkable leadership of Dorothy Buschmann who, besides a bookkeeper, was the only paid member of the staff, 64,316 volunteer workers donated


  • 35 Clarence Jackson to Col. M. G. Henley, Indianapolis, November 20, 1943, State Defense Council files. Calvin Berlin is writing a volume on "Indiana's Civilian Soldiers," the history of civilian defense.
  • 36 Turner and Walker, Indiana at War, 568–571, 584–585. Curtis A. Hodges (ed.), "History of the Office of Price Administration in the Indiana District" (MS, War History Commission files, 1947).
  • 37 Turner and Walker, Indiana at War, 339–343.
1,701,613 hours of service to this organization. Its annual budget of a little less than $100,000 was covered sixty times over by the contributions which Indianapolis citizens made to their United War Fund.38 That Hoosier self-sufficiency could sometimes be carried to absurd extremes was indicated by a paradoxical situation in Fort Wayne where, due to differences of opinion between leading citizens, two well-equipped service clubs on adjacent corners, one supported and operated by USO, the other an autonomous community facility, served a group of soldiers who would have found ample accommodation in one.39 At the other extreme was the shameful reluctance of either the USO or the nearby local communities to provide adequate recreational opportunities for Negro troops stationed at Camps Atterbury and Breckenridge and at George and Freeman Air Fields.40

Though harried by expediters, co-ordinators, consultants, red tape, forms to fill out in quintuplicate, and ration stamps, the average Hoosier business man managed to survive the war with his sanity intact and his faith in democracy vindicated. There were the inevitable cranks and chronic faultfinders and a few crooks, but the majority of business men accepted the chafing of inescapable regimentation with the philosophy of Louis Ruthenberg, President of Servel, Inc.: "American industrialists are tough. … Perhaps we are better prepared to meet the greatest test of all time than we should have been if our taskmasters in Washington had refrained from kicking us around. It now appears likely that American industrial management can succeed in its terrific task despite continuing obstacles ingeniously arranged by those same taskmasters."41

Some made light of their difficulties in the tall-tale tradition of Hoosier pioneers. A shipbuilder declared that he had no trouble knowing when to launch a vessel; he simply


  • 38Ibid., 365. Cavnes, "Hoosier Community," 767–768. John H. Reed, "The Development and Organization of the Indianapolis Service Men's Centers Incorporated (unpublished master's thesis, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, 1944).
  • 39 Cavnes, "Hoosier Community," 775–789. Ray A. Hoyer, Field Representative, Office of Community War Services, to Mark A. McCloskey, Director of Recreation, Federal Security Agency, March 13, 1943, Office of Community War Services, General Classified Files, Record Group 15, Box 103, National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  • 40 Cavnes, "Hoosier Community," 272–279. Hoyer to McCloskey, April 19, 1943, OCWS, GCF, RG 215, Box 105, National Archives.
  • 41 Reported in Indianapolis Star, May 13, 1942.
weighed it every day and when the weight of the ship equalled the weight of the paper work on the contract, she was ready!42 A few had the grace to admit somewhat ruefully that there might be shortcomings on both sides. One of these wrote a set of ten commandments for the business man, the ninth of which was "Thou shall not fret because of evildoers for thou hast not done so well thyself."43

It is much too early now to speak with any degree of confidence about the consequences of the war in Indiana and the commission's writers have not pretended to do so in their studies. Nevertheless, a paper of this kind may be forgiven for venturing a few deductions on the basis of plain evidence. Census figures show that Indiana's population increased by half a million between 1940 and 1950, and that at least one-fifth of this increase came at the expense of other states: in other words, many migrant workers and many soldiers who trained in Indiana camps became permanent residents. Indiana's percentage gain was 14.8, slightly higher than the nation as a whole.44 Thus it is clear that Indiana's attractiveness as a place to live increased relatively as a result of the war. However, the change was slight, and except for such spectacular developments as the overnight transformation of Charlestown, it followed the familiar pattern of previous decades. Eighteen counties in the agricultural and coalmining regions continued to lose population as they had before the war—in fact, one of the great disappointments of the war boom was that neither the Wabash River Ordnance Works, the Vigo Ordnance plant, nor any other artificial stimulant seemed capable of lifting the lower Wabash valley region from its chronic state of decline. The areas of greatest growth in the state were those industrial regions which had been developing steadily, except for the depression decade, since 1890.45

Although demobilization and reconversion left a few camps and air fields and factories standing empty as grim reminders of the waste of war, the Korean conflict and the


  • 42 Blackburn, "Hoosier Arsenal," 374–375.
  • 43Speed Gab (Columbus, Indiana), May-June, 1942; this is the plant publication of the Reeves Pulley Company.
  • 44 Cavnes, "Hoosier Community," 19–20, 22. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports, Ser. P-25, No. 72, 1953, p. 6. Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950, Population, II, Part 14, pp. 7, 33–34.
  • 45 Indiana Economic Council, Indiana's Population and Labor Force (Indianapolis, 1953).
continuing diplomatic tensions in Europe and Asia have prevented Indiana from returning completely to the pacific aspect she bore in 1939. The Crane NAD and the ordnance plants at Charlestown, Newport, Kingsbury, and Indianapolis have apparently become permanent additions to the Hoosier landscape and economy. The majority of Indiana's war industries converted to peacetime production after 1945, but Allison continues to manufacture jet engines, Eli Lilly is still growing penicillin in the tanks constructed for that purpose during the war, the Alcoa plant at Lafayette is moulding airplane bodies in the world's largest extrusion press, and dozens of Hoosier scientists are engaged in research for the armed forces. Aided by the experience and additional capacity gained through war production, Indiana has risen to a foremost rank among her sister states in the manufacture of more than sixty products. She stands first in the making of power transmission and engine electrical equipment, second in aircraft engines and farm machinery, third in steel mills and motor vehicles, and fourth in the electronics industry.46 The war unquestionably increased the prosperity and physical comfort (and taxes!) of virtually every resident of Indiana.

The question that inevitably arises in the minds of thoughtful Hoosiers is whether these gains were purchased at too high a price in the immediate losses of the war or in that spiritual demoralization which we have learned to expect in the train of Mars. While the commission does not have categorical answers to this question, it has collected data of the sort not ordinarily found even in the newspapers, which may help ultimately to arrive at the answer. One of the best jobs of research done for the War History Commission was carried on by Max Cavnes, in the field of social changes in the Indiana community during the war years. Cavnes not only examined the supply of materials on this all-embracing topic in the commission files and in the Indiana newspapers, but he searched the National Archives in Washington and found there, in the reports of federal investigators for a number of wartime agencies, information which serves to balance the somewhat overly optimistic view which Hoosiers are likely to take of their own accomplishments. The reports of Fair Employment Practices Committee investigators show that despite all the vigorous efforts of the biracial committees,


  • 46 Blackburn, "Hoosier Arsenal," 491–492.
Negro workers continued to be the victims of discrimination by many employers, labor unions, and even some officials of the United States Employment Service. On the whole, the war brought improvements in the lot of the Negro, but there were still many places in Indiana at war's end where he could not be employed as a skilled laborer, get a technical education, live in a modern house, or buy a meal in a restaurant.47

Indiana's children may be thought of as another minority group victimized by the war. At school they suffered from overcrowded, underheated, obsolete classrooms, forced upon them by the necessary cessation of the normal school-building program, and from too few and too poorly trained teachers. This was the result, not only of the war, which drafted great numbers of teachers into the armed services, but of years of pinch-penny policy which drove good teachers with inadequate salaries into more highly paid war jobs.48 At home the children suffered from the neglect of parents, especially when mothers as well as fathers accepted full time employment in war plants. State and federal agencies did something for the babies by encouraging the establishment of day nurseries,49 but the rise in juvenile delinquency among the "latchkey children" was probably beyond the wit of man to counteract. The establishment of boys clubs and teen-age recreation centers by many communities was a worthy gesture, but it did not strike at the root of the problem—nothing short of the revival of the American home could do that.50

The most pitiful victims of the war, because the most helpless, were the inmates of Indiana's institutions for the paupers, the aged, the physical and mental defectives, and the lawbreakers. From county home and city jail to state asylum and penitentiary, these institutions were, almost without exception, a disgrace to a civilized people. The evidence for this statement lies, not in the exposures of sensation-seeking journalists, but in the annual reports of the superintendents


  • 47 Cavnes, "Hoosier Community," 196–325.
  • 48Ibid., 564–565. Indiana Teacher (Indianapolis, 1924-), LXXXVI (1941–1942), 168, 224.
  • 49 Cavnes, "Hoosier Community," 422–424. Indiana Defense Council, "Defense News Letter, Bulletin No. 1," November 16, 1942, War History Commission files.
  • 50 Cavnes, "Hoosier Community," 452–476. Hoosier Civilian Soldier (Indianapolis), March 4,1944; this was a State Defense Council publication.
themselves—a form of literature which, apparently, nobody ever bothers to read. The less said about this painful subject, perhaps, the better. Suffice it to say that the war simply aggravated almost beyond endurance the evils which had long haunted these places of misery—totally inadequate budgets, grossly underpaid and consequently incompetent personnel, and obsolete equipment. In 1942, Indiana ranked thirty-ninth among the forty-eight states in her provision for mental cases.51 The only gain which the war may be said to have brought was a renewed consciousness of duty on the part of the people, and a genuine desire for reform, which has since borne fruit.

To turn from a subject on which there is no excuse for ignorance to one in which the truth is usually concealed from the public, Cavnes's research in the records of the Social Protection Division of the Federal Security Agency, headed by Indiana's own Paul V. McNutt, revealed the sorry fact that the director's home state gave his agents less than half-hearted support in their efforts to suppress wartime prostitution. This program of suppression was not undertaken as a moral crusade but as the only effective way to control venereal disease which had incapacitated the equivalent of twenty-three divisions in the army during World War I. That Indiana, swarming as it was with men in uniform during the early months of the war, needed a program of venereal control was made abundantly clear by selective service doctors who discovered syphilis infection in thirty-four out of every thousand Hoosiers they examined—the highest rate in any state north of the Ohio River.52 Unfortunately, the suppression of prostitution was not within the constitutional powers of the federal government—it depended entirely upon local law and law enforcement. The agents of the Social Protection Division could only advise, plead, and exhort. This they did with good effect in many Indiana towns, but in others they found that the ancient alliance between prostitution and politics still prevailed—there were too many mayors, police chiefs, or district attorneys who were indifferent or openly hostile to a disturbance of the


  • 51 Cavnes, "Hoosier Community," 528–529. Indiana Council for Mental Health, Annual Report, 1942, pp. 20–25.
  • 52 Cavnes. "Hoosier Community," 378–379. Indiana State Board of Health, Monthly Bulletin (Indianapolis, 1899-), XLVII (1944), 184.
status quo in their red light districts.53 Here was one area in which the exercise of local self-government and the rejection of federal interference reflected no credit upon Indiana.

To end this survey upon a more cheerful note it might be well to examine briefly the effect of the war upon higher learning in Indiana. It is a matter for astonishment and pride that all but one of Indiana's forty-three colleges and universities survived the harrowing problems of the war years when male students virtually disappeared from the campuses, faculty members were drafted into government service, and incomes from endowment as well as from tuition dwindled to a tiny trickle. Wabash College, with a normal average enrollment of about 450, was down to ten civilian students in 1945, and even Indiana University, supported by the state treasury, had incurred a deficit of $264,000 by the middle of the war.54 The means by which college administrators and professors solved these problems were no less ingenious than the devices by which Indiana business men overcame their production snafus. Accelerated programs, budget-paring, eloquent appeals to alumni and church constituencies, curriculum changes, faculty overloading, campaigns for more coed and 4-F students, research contracts, and—of course—major assistance from the federal government in the form of army and navy training programs saved the day. It should be noted, however, that twenty-four of the state's colleges managed to survive without federal assistance of any kind, and that, contrary to outside impressions, those which undertook the training of soldiers or sailors reaped no golden harvests from Uncle Sam's treasury—the contracts were carefully devised to meet expenses and nothing more.55 Most interesting of all was the adaptation which college professors, who are sometimes regarded as mental incompetents outside their chosen specialties, were able


  • 53 Cavnes. "Hoosier Community," 381–417. Cavnes cites many instances, based on numerous reports from Janet S. Burgoon, Regional Social Protection Representative, to Eliot Ness, Director of the Social Protection Division, Office of Community War Services, in General Classified Files, Record Group 215, Box 104, National Archives.
  • 54 Cavnes, "Hoosier Community," 669–680, 708–709. Robert S. Harvey, "Wabash College in World War II" (MS, War History Commission files), 4–7; "Statement to the State Budget Committee Adopted by the Board of Trustees of Indiana University, January 30, 1943" (MS, State Defense Council files), 3.
  • 55 Cavnes, "Hoosier Community," 706–707.
to make to the war's demands. Music teachers learned to instruct budding airmen in celestial navigation, art instructors taught draftsmanship, biologists dissected internal combustion engines, and at least one history professor became a so-called expert in Morse code. Whether this versatility carried over into the postwar period is another question which the War History Commission has not asked itself.

The War History Commission was not told to write a history of Indiana's intellectual response to the war: perhaps that cannot be done. Did World War II engender the same kind of hysteria in Hoosiers which led them to prohibit the teaching of German in the schools in 1917? Did Indiana succumb to the kind of postwar depravity which had fostered the Ku Klux Klan in the twenties? Did Hoosiers, on the other hand, achieve a new sense of world responsibility and a new understanding of world problems from their participation in the war? Perhaps they did. But the evidence is not yet complete and irrefutable. Only time, and future historians, will tell.

APPENDIX

INDIANA WAR HISTORY COMMISSION PUBLICATIONS

The ten volumes under the general title Indiana in World War II which were authorized by the executive committee of the commission in 1947 are listed below with full publishing data. Copies of the volumes which have thus far been published are available upon order from the Indiana War History Commission, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. The Commission will also receive orders for the entire series, or any specified part of the series, the volumes not yet published to be delivered and paid for upon publication. The commission is not authorized by law to make donations of copies, but library and school orders are allowed a 20 per cent discount from list price.

Volume I GOLD STAR HONOR ROLL. (This title is being published at present in the form of booklets containing the Honor Roll for a single county, or two adjoining counties. The booklets are priced at 25 or 30 cents each. After all county rolls have been compiled, bound volumes of the complete state roll will be issued.)
Volume II LETTERS FROM FIGHTING HOOSIERS. Selected and edited by Howard H. Peckham and Shirley A. Snyder. (Bloomington, 1948, pp. xv, 406. Foreword by Governor Ralph W. Gates, preface, introduction, index, illustration. $5.00.) This volume consists of 131 letters actually written by Indiana men and women in the armed services from nearly every battlefield of World War II.
Volume III THE HOOSIER TRAINING GROUND. Compiled by Dorothy Riker. (Bloomington, 1952, pp. xiv, 381. Illustrations, appendices, index. $5.00.) This volume contains the individual histories of the nineteen most important military installations on Indiana soil.
Volume IV INDIANA AT WAR: CIVILIAN DIRECTORY. Compiled by Lynn W. Turner and Heber P. Walker. (Bloomington, 1951, pp. xxi, 1330. Foreword by Governor Henry F. Schricker, preface, indices, illustrations. $12.50.) This volume contains brief descriptions and personnel directories of some 1,800 governmental, civic, and volunteer wartime organizations.
Volume V THE HOOSIER ARSENAL. (Under preparation. Probable price, $5.00.) This volume will cover the story of Indiana industry, transportation, labor, and economic development during the war.
Volume VI HOOSIER FARMERS IN WAR TIME. (Probable price, $4.00.) This volume, to be prepared by Purdue University, will recite the contribution of Indiana agriculture to victory and the war's effects on Hoosier farmers.
Volume VII INDIANA'S FINANCIAL ROLE IN WORLD WAR II. (Under preparation. Probable price, $4.00.) War Bond sales, banking, finance, taxation, and price control.
Volume VIII INDIANA'S CIVILIAN SOLDIERS. (Under preparation. Probable price, $5.00.) The history of the Indiana State Defense Council and its allied agencies.
Volume IX THE HOOSIER COMMUNITY AT WAR. (Under preparation. Probable price, $6.00.) The impact of the war upon Indiana's people, her schools, and her social agencies.
Volume X INDIANA IN A WORLD AT WAR. (Probable price, $4.00.) This volume will be a summary and analysis of the entire series in a popular vein.


Published by the Indiana University Department of History.