The Great Plains During World War II

The Homefront

This section provides access to the major issues of daily life during the war years in the Great Plains. The challenges of wartime life required adaptation and economic opportunities often failed to last beyond the war.

War Industries

World War II brought economic opportunities to the residents of the Great Plains. Federal spending financed the defense industries which provided jobs and large payrolls. Wartime economic expansion, however, brought social and economic problems that remained unsolved when the war ended.


The war proved life altering for many women in the Great Plains, particularly at aircraft manufacturing plants in Wichita, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Dallas/Ft. Worth. Women enjoyed the independence and social changes that came with employment and a regular pay check.

Home Defense

By early 1941, residents of the Great Plains began mobilizing for home defense by providing surveillance as members of the Civil Air Patrol and practicing blackout drills.

Daily Life

World War II disrupted and changed the main patterns of daily life for residents of the Great Plains. Economic diversification encouraged mobility, particularly from the farms and towns to the cities with defense industries. People learned to cope with new social and economic problems, always hoping that the economic good times would last and that the days of privation and want that they had experienced during the Great Depression would not return.


The people of the Great Plains endured rationing which the federal government mandated for a host of commodities to ensure equitable distribution and fair prices while controlling hoarding and fighting inflation. Sugar, meat, gasoline, and tires became the major rationed goods that caused complaints but not hardships. Black markets developed, particularly for beef. The people of the Great Plains often violated these regulations to meet their own needs. They supported the war effort but always on their own terms.