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Chapter 6: 1941-1950 6: 1 Background Information, useful for understanding developments in woodworking

under construction -- updated 8-16-08

Regardless of the New Deal's policies in the 1930s, America was still suffering from the economic throes of the Depression. In 1939, in Europe, Germany invaded Poland, creating World War II. In America, politically, an "ilsolationist" mentality prevented Roosevelt from declaring war on Germany, and thus coming to the aid of our European allies. The "Day of Infamy" in 1941 -- Japan's attack on Pearl Harber in Howaii -- changed all that, however. Roosevelt declared war on both Germany and Japan, an action that mobilized America militarily, and -- as a side issue -- eliminated the Depression.

In 1940 Congress passed the nation's first peace-time draft legislation. Over 10,000,000 men were drafted between November 1940 and October 1946, drawing from the pool of men born on or before 1927.

America entered WW II, and mobilized xx, xxx,xxx troops. Anyone over 3? was exempt, however, thus leaving in the US a potential population of amateur woodworkers, meaning that this Library's message was directed toward older woodworkers.

In 1940, America had a surplus manpower pool, with high unemployment and relief, but in 1943, when mobilized, the nation had a severe manpower shortage.

(For what looks like a pretty accurate account of the home front during WW II, click here. )

In 1943, the prominent figure in Industrial Arts circles and writer of woodworker's manuals, William W. Klenke, published another book on joints in woodworking, Furniture Joinery. According to the Foreword of Klenke's  book, 

During that period, [i.e., between 1925 and 1943 -- ], there has sprung up throughout this vast land of ours an ever-increasing number of home craftsmen—boys, men and women of all ages, who are especially in­terested, not in joint-making alone, but rather in how to make furniture and other articles of wood wherein, of course, the making of joints and how to assemble them play an important part. 

Source: William W. Klenke, Furniture Joinery   Peoria , Ill. , C.A. Bennett Co. 1943.

With America at war -- the nation was fully mobilized:  – there were 10,000,000 active duty troops, and “Rosy the Riveter”, i.e., women– to the tune of 20,000,000, were serving the nation as factory workers, etc.

Why, in 1943, is C A Bennett, the publisher Klenke’s book, Furniture Joinery, responding to a market of “ever-increasing home craftsmen"? The answer comes from a what I think surprising source, the 1947 Stanley Tool pamphlet, The Joy of Accomplishment. On page 2 of the pamphlet, the anonymous author delclares that, according to "an authentic source", 750,000 persons are engaged in this absorbing hobby". Since I am naturally suspicious of anyone using "authentic" to label a source authentic, but doesn't give the documentation, I will simply let this claim stand as probably true. Ten years earlier, in 1938, the National Homeworkshop Guild was claiming 500 chapters existed in United States and Canada. Do the math: At a modest ten per chapter, gives only 50,000 woodworkers, a figure that seems very low. I will keep looking. (For a brief account of the number of homeshops said to exist in 1930 -- 77,000, click here..) With figures about amateure woodworkers and homeshops coming from several sources, but withouth docmentation, settling on "hard" data is suspect. Again, this page is under construction. I will return to editing it soon -- 8-2-08 -- but in the meantime check out this wickipedia page on the home front during WW II

Narrated documentary on woodworking as a profession

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