Tuesday, November 16, 2010

War Ration Book Collection Reaches 10,000 Name Milestone

Back on September 12, 2006, I scanned my first World War II Food Ration Book, and today, the ten thousandth book hit the bed of my scanner! It was an arbitrary goal set after purchasing the first two books at the Summit Antique Center (Summit, NJ), and learning about their significance in U. S. history. (See "Web Site Launches Online Registry of War Ration Books")

With a little bit of digging around the Internet, I learned not only about the books and the rationing program instituted during World War II, but that there was a society (named Society of Ration Token Collectors) whose members collect and study all of the items (books, tokens, newspaper articles, pamphlets, etc.) related to food rationing. And it was by corresponding with SRTC members, that I discovered there really wasn't any significant collection of these books. They said the largest collection was about 900 books. The SRTC members have been very supportive of my project, many contributing books and one even drove all the way to New Jersey in 2007 to spend a day studying the books I've collected! (See "Ration Book Researcher Visits Genealogy Today Archive")

Each of the book formats (there were four series of books) includes stamps and a cover that captured information about the person the book was issued to. When the books are filled out properly, they offer great details about the individual. Some of the books I've collected include nothing more than a name, but I still index and post an image of them. (See "No News is Still Good News, Right?")

While ten thousand is (genealogically speaking) a small number for a collection, consider that there were millions of books issued, dispersed across the country to every U. S. citizen (even infants). There was never a central repository; the books were simply to be disposed of when the program ended. It's remarkable that so many people held on to them.

The Registry of War Ration Books, a free collection at Genealogy Today, is fully indexed on first and last name, plus year and location. Donations are welcome; visitors may send images and/or the actual books. Oh, by the way, the image above is the 10,000th book!

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