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Using Primary Sources in the Classroom:

Lesson 7: Sacrifice and Service at Home

Background Information for Teachers

The Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 prompted fears of bombing attacks on the U.S. mainland. Responding to the challenge, some 80,000 of the state's citizens enlisted as volunteers under the Alabama State Defense Council which provided training in civil defense activities and emergency services throughout the war. In support of the war effort overseas, Alabamians raised nearly four million dollars in donations for military support organizations like the USO and for European relief agencies. The raising and allocation of funds was coordinated by the Alabama War Chest, which became a model for the nation following its creation in 1942 by Governor Frank M. Dixon.

 

Learning Objectives
Upon completion of this lesson, students should be able to
  1. Define and describe the duties of the Alabama State Defense Council.
  2. Define and describe the Alabama War Chest fund.
  3. Analyze the importance of home front service.
Suggested Activity
  1. Make a copy of the documents of the Alabama State Defense Council and the Alabama War Chest for each student.

     

  2. Ask the students the following questions:
    1. Why were the practice blackouts important?
    2. Why was it important to give passes to those who could drive during a blackout?
    3. Who do you believe were the members of the Defense Councils? What were some possible reasons that these men were not serving in the war?
    4. After reading the unsuccessful blackout reports, what would be your solution for getting the people of Alabama to take the exercises seriously?
    5. What was the purpose behind the Alabama War Chest?
    6. How would participation in activities like the blackouts and the Alabama War Chest affect those who were on the home front?

       

  3. Place each student with a partner. Ask the partners to create a slogan and a poster to encourage participation in the Alabama War Chest fund or in the blackout campaign.
Documents
  • Document 1: Alabama State Defense Council. "Report on Blackout." Alabama State Council of Defense (1941-1946), Program Administrative Files, SG 19853, Folder 10, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.

     

  • Document 2: Alabama State Defense Council. "Blackout Pass." Alabama State Council of Defense (1941-1946), Program Administrative Files, SG 19853, Folder 9, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.

     

  • Document 3: "Reports of Officers." Alabama State Council of Defense (1941-1946), Program Administrative Files, SG 19882, Folder 12, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.

     

  • Document 4: Frederic Cornell, Huntsville, Alabama, to Safety Division Chief, 3 December 1942. Alabama State Council of Defense (1941-1946), Program Administrative Files, SG 19882, Folder 12, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.

     

  • Document 5: E. C. Knox, Huntsville, Alabama, to Col. Brice, Huntsville Arsenal, 3 December 1942. Alabama State Council of Defense (1941-1946), Program Administrative Files, SG 19882, Folder 12, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.

     

  • Document 6: Alabama War Chest. "Give!" n.p., n.d. Alabama State Council of Defense (1941-1946), Program Administrative Files, SG 19849, Folder 5, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.

     

  • Document 7: Alabama War Chest Forms. Alabama State Council of Defense (1941-1946), Program Administrative Files, SG 19849, Folder 5, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.

     

  • Document 8: Alabama War Chest. "The Alabama War Chest: What It Is." n.p., n.d. Alabama State Council of Defense (1941-1946), Program Administrative Files, SG 19849, Folder 5, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.