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Genealogists are always in search of new record sources when confronted with a brick wall. Well, can you think of a resource that not only gives you name, address, age and occupation, but also height and weight of a person? Interestingly, the ration books issued during World War Two attempted to capture* these items.
In the United States, nationwide food rationing was instituted in the spring of 1942, and each member of the family was issued ration books by the Office of Price Administration (OPA). These books contained stamps and gave precise details of the amounts of certain types of food that you were allowed. Rationing insured that each person could get their fair share of the items that were in short supply due to the war effort and import reductions. By the end of the war, over a hundred million of each ration book were printed.
The Office of Price Administration (OPA) was in charge of rationing consumer goods such as sugar, coffee, shoes, household appliances, and other goods during World War II. The OPA accepted ration book applications and issued ration books, from which consumers tore out stamps in order to purchase food and other supplies at grocery stores.
Four different series of war ration books were issued. In 1942, five months after (December 8, 1941) the United States entered the Second World War, "Book One" series were issued. In January 1943, "Book Two" series were issued. "Book Three" series were issued in October of 1943. And "Book Four" series were issued towards the end of 1943. Most ration restrictions didn't end until August 1945, with sugar rationing lasting in some parts of the country until 1947.
*Each book asked for different identification, with book one and three asking the most detailed information. In all the ration books that we've seen, however, the completion of the form was not as strictly enforced as with the book one series.
We established this ration book search to assist researchers in tracking down records of possible relatives and ancestors. While we have been collecting ration books for several years, these records also include links to imaged books online at other web sites. This database index now includes over 11,000 listings.
Keep in mind that the book covers were handwritten by the individual, many in pencil, so also search for surname variations just in case the records were misinterpreted during the transcription process.
Effective March 2010, all user contributed document images and transcriptions will be posted to our Family History Wiki upon receipt, and then indexed by the appropriate database project. You are welcome to email us scanned images and/or mail the original documents. Please refer to "Contributing to the Family History Wiki" for instructions.
If you have some war ration books and are unable to contribute images and/or originals, you may catalog them online as an alternative method for sharing the information with other researchers.