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America at Home in 1941

Life in the United States in the year before entering World War II.

The Great Depression began to abate by 1939 with the rumors of war in Europe. There was a double influx of business, first from European countries that with a need to supplement there arms and commodities, and second from an increase in military spending in the United States. By mid-1941 the US was in the Atlantic war in all but declaration.

Most popular radio shows : The Red Skelton Show ; Inter Sanctum ; The Great Gildersleave ; Duffy's Tavern ; The Thin Man.
Movies : - Best Picture : How Green Was My Valley ;   Best Director : John Ford .
    Best Actor : Gary Cooper, Sergeant York ;   Best Actress : Joan Fontaine, Suspicion .
    Supporting Actor : Donald Crisp , How Green Was My Valley ;   Supporting Actress : Mary Astor, The Great Lie.
Popular Pictures : Citizen Kane - Orsen Welles ; The Maltese Falcon - Humphrey Bogart. Gone with the Wind ; Cheers for Miss Bishop ; Fantasia ; The Wizard of Oz
Top Movie Names : Mickey Rooney ; Clark Gable ; Abbott and Costello ; Bob Hope ; Betty Davis ; James Cagney ; Judy Garland.
Songs : Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered ; Deep in the Heart of Texas ; There, I've Said It Again ; Racing with the Moon ; By the Light of the Silvery Moon ; Chattanooga Choo Choo ; I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire ; I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good.
Bands : Stan Kenton ; Benny Goodman ; Glenn Miller.
Singers : Frank Sinatra ; Bing Crosby
Broadway : Arsenic and Old Lace
Pulitzer Prize in Journalism : St Louis Post-Dispatch for city smoke nuisance.
Pulitzer Prize for Drama : There Shall be No Night - Robert Sherwood.
Best Sellers : Fiction - For Whom the Bell Tolls ; How Green Was My Valley ;
    Non-fiction - I Married Adventure ; Berlin Diary.
Poets : Edna St. Vincent Millay ; e e cummings

Economics
Federal spending : $13.65 billion
Federal debt : $57.5 billion ,     (2000= $5,606 billion)
Consumer Price Index : 14.7
Minimum wage : 25 cents
Unemployment : 9.9%
Cost of a first-class stamp : 3 cents

SPORTS
World Series : NY Yankees vs. Brooklyn Dodgers (4-1)
Stanley Cup : Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings (4-0)
Wimbledon : Men : Not held . Women : Not held
Kentucky Derby Champion : Whirlaway (Triple Crown!)
NCAA Basketball Championship : Wisconsin vs. Washington St. (39-34)
NCAA Football Champions : Minnesota (8-0-0)
Grand Slam : Men - Bobby Riggs ; Women - Sarah Palfrey Cook
The Masters : Craig Wood
Heavyweight : Joe Louis
Indianapolis : Floyd Davis , Mauri Rose
Joe DiMaggio safely hit in 56 consecutive baseball games.
Lou Gehrig (1903-1941) died. Baseball player.

ENTERTAINMENT
In Citizen Kane, Orson Wells. Using newly developed film stocks and a wider, faster lens, he pushes the boundaries of montage and mise-en-scène, as well as sound, redefining the medium.
Actress Greta Garbo retires at age 36.
Paderewski (1860-1941) died.

AWARDS
Pulitzer Prize, Drama : There Shall Be No Night, Robert E. Sherwood

Oscar Nominations
Outstanding Motion Picture:
  Blossoms in the Dust (MGM)
  Citizen Kane (Mercury; RKO Radio)
  Here Comes Mr. Jordan (Columbia)
  Hold Back the Dawn (Paramount)
  How Green Was My Valley (Twentieth Century-Fox)
  The Little Foxes (Goldwyn; RKO Radio)
  The Maltese Falcon (Warner Bros.)
  One Foot in Heaven (Warner Bros.)
  Sergeant York (Warner Bros.)
  Suspicion (RKO Radio)
Best Actor:
  Gary Cooper, Sergeant York
  Cary Grant, Penny Serenade
  Walter Huston, All That Money Can Buy
  Robert Montgomery, Here Comes Mr. Jordan
  Orson Welles, Citizen Kane
Best Actress:
  Bette Davis, The Little Foxes
  Joan Fontaine, Suspicion
  Olivia de Havilland, Hold Back the Dawn
  Greer Garson, Blossoms in the Dust
  Barbara Stanwyck, Ball of Fire
Actor in a Supporting Role:
  Walter Brennan, Sergeant York
  Charles Coburn, The Devil and Miss Jones
  Donald Crisp, How Green Was My Valley
  James Gleason, Here Comes Mr. Jordan
  Sydney Greenstreet, The Maltese Falcon
Actress in a Supporting Role:
  Sarah Allgood, How Green Was My Valley
  Mary Astor, The Great Lie
  Patricia Collinge, The Little Foxes
  Teresa Wright, The Little Foxes
  Margaret Wycherly, Sergeant York
Directing:
  John Ford for How Green Was My Valley
  Alexander Hall for Here Comes Mr. Jordan
  Howard Hawks for Sergeant York
  Orson Welles for Citizen Kane
  William Wyler for The Little Foxes 
Miss America : Rosemary LaPlanche (CA)
Lord Baden-Powell (1857-1941) died. Founder of Boy Scouts.

SCIENCE
Nobel Prizes:
    Peace:   None awarded
    Chemistry: None awarded
    Physics:   None awarded
    Physiology & Medicine: None awarded
Glenn Seaborg and Edwin McMillan isolate plutonium, a fuel preferable to uranium for nuclear reactors.
RCA demonstrates a new simplified electron microscope that magnifies up to 100,000 times.
John Rex Whinfield and Dickson invent Dacron.
Construction begins on Gatun Locks, Panama Canal.
Grand Coulee Dam, Washington, begins operation.
Rainbow Bridge, Niagara Falls opens.
"Bug bomb" aerosol container developed.
Z3 computer containing 2,600 electro-mechanical relays is first programmable computer.
Caproni-Campini fan-jet plane flies Milan to Rome at 310 mph.

GOVERNMENT
President : Franklin D Roosevelt ; Vice Pres : Henry A. Wallace ;
Speaker of the House : Sam Raburn
Cabinet:   Sec State : Cordell Hall ; Treasury : Henry Morgenthau, Jr. ; War : Henry L. Stimson; Attorney General : Francis Biddle ; Postmaster General : Frank Walker ; Navy : Frank Knox ; Interior : Harold L. Ickes ; Agriculture : Claude R. Wickard ; Commerce : Jesse Jones ; Labor : Frances Perkins
Chief Justice : Harlan F. Stone
U.S. Supreme court upholds minimum wage.
National Gallery of Art opens.
US Savings Bonds introduced.
Office of Price Administration, OPA, formed.
Justice Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) dies.
    Census    19402000
    Population:131,669,275 281,421,906.
    Farms: 6,102,000. 2,172,000.
    Farm population:30,547,000 ; 23.2% 4,801,000 ; 1.9% (1990)
    Home Ownership:43.6%67.4%
    Immigration: 528,431 ; 7.4% of growth     7,605,066 ; 37.0%
    EPA Emissions:
       Carbon monoxide: 94MM tons .97MM
       Sulfur dioxide :    20MM tons .19MM
    Public Education: $2,261 MM $325,976 MM
    Life Expectancy: Male 65 ; Female 70Male 74 ; Female 80
    Infant Mortality:47 /K7 /K
    Alcohol Use: 1.56 gallons per capita2.2
    Cigarettes: 1,976 per capita2,103
    Newspapers: 1,878 1,480
    Road Mileage: 3,287,000 paved about 13%.  3,932,000 paved 62.4%.

Chronology 1941

March
11 . The Lend-Lease Act of 1941 passed by the U.S. Congress, gave the President power to sell, transfer, lend, or lease such war materials. Total lend-lease aid exceeded $50 billion, of which the British Commonwealth received some $31 billion and the USSR received over $11 billion.
May.
  Meteor, first British jet aircraft using Whittle engine.
June
20. Book, "Berlin Diary," released.
30. Arms production : 2 battleships, 24 destroyers, 9 submarines.   151 fighters, 70 bombers.   260 light tanks, 130 medium, zero heavy tanks.
July
1 . Chrysler, Ford, Hudson, Nash, and Studebaker have all announced price increases ranging from $10 to $53 per car. The government tried to talk them out of it.
5 . RAF Cadets start 30 week course of flight training at US air fields.
7 . FDR announces secret landing of US troops in Iceland to prevent Germany taking strategic outposts in the Atlantic. (Marines release British troops for combat elsewhere.)
28 . Fifty tanker ships had already been turned over to Britain. The oil industry was asked by the Petroleum Coordinator, Harold Ickes, to turn over 100 more tankers. This will leave only 200 oil vessels under the US flag.
August
1 . 19 million man-days lost to strikes in last year.
11. The US government becomes sole buyer/seller of raw silk. Silk is needed for parachutes and ammunition powder bags. Causes rush to stocking counters.
    With the termination of trade with Japan, the source of silk stockings, some women began to follow the practice of their European counterparts by painting their legs, even penciling a line down the back of their legs. A new product, tougher than silk and also sheer was introduced and quickly accepted -- it was nylon.
18 . Steel was put on mandatory priorities, that is, no steel can be sold without the purchaser having a government priority. Capacity is only 90% because of a shortage of scrap metal. Over 8 million tons had been sent to Japan.
22 . U.S.Army doubles in last year since the President called 60,000 National Guardsmen for 12 months service ; a recruit earns $21 per month, to $30 after 4 months. Chief Petty Officer $126.
September
1 . Battle damaged British warships repaired in US naval yards.
5 . USS Greer attacked while carrying mail to Iceland. (Actually Greer was tracking U-652 and each attacked the other with no effect.)
11 . President warns Axis ships against entering American waters. (Actually a "shoot on sight" order to USN.)
Ground was broken for the Pentagon.
13 . Selective Training Act (draft) signed for men age 21-35 for one year of training service.
18 . FDR asks $1.5 billion for lend lease.
30 . Three US ships sunk this month: Steel Seafarer, Sessa, and Montana.
October
Willys-Overland Jeep selected by Army as utility vehicle.
10 . Columbia Univ begins first scheduled FM station.
16 . Draft registration of 17,000,000 men.
17 . U.S.N. destroyer torpedoed near Iceland. (Actually USS Kearny was convoy escort attacked by wolf pack.)
16-18. Japanese cabinet resigns ; General Tojo Prime Minister.
29 . Draft drawing to select 800,000 men for service.
31 . US destroyer Ruben James sunk by torpedo on convoy escort.
November
7 . US Senate revokes Neutrality Act. House on Nov 13.
9 . US base in Iceland declared operational.
13 . Draft age lowered from 21 to 18.
16 . CIO coal strike.
18 . Japanese meet to negotiate in Washington, DC.
25 . US troops to Dutch Guiana to protect bauxite mines.

December 1941.
1 . State of emergency proclaimed in Singapore and Malay States.
7 . Pearl Harbor.
8 . FDR speech, "A Date that Will Live in Infamy."
8 . Chicago Tribune says US battle fleet on its way to Japan. (Actually, the battle fleet was sitting on the bottom of Pearl Harbor.
10 . Two Japanese battleships reported sunk in invasion of Philippines. (Actually, no Japanese warships larger than a destroyer were lost in the first 5 months of the war.)
11 . Germany-Italy and USA declare war against each other.
13 . Japanese invasion of Philippines thrown back. (Actually 80,000 Japanese troops were landed over a two week period against 10,000 American troops.
15 . Naval Secretary Knox reports 2 battleships and 3 destroyers lost at Pearl Harbor. (Actually, 5 battleships were sunk and 3 damaged.
17 . MacAurthur reports Philippine situation well in hand.
20 . Japan's new Zero fighter said to closely resemble Brewster Buffalo. (Actually, the Zero is superior to all existing world fighters including the Buffalo and its successor, the Grumman Wildcat.)
22 . It is revealed that PM Churchill and Chiefs of Staff are in Washington.
23 . Union no-strike pledge.
25 . North Platte Canteen opens - serves sandwiches and coffee to 6,000,000 in uniform -- until April 1, 1946
By year-end San Francisco had its tenth alert, 7th blackout.

Sometime 1941.
NBC and CBS granted TV licenses in NYC to use commercials.


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About this page: Home41 - The America of 1941 - life in the United States in the year before entering World War II.
Last updated on November 23, 2002
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