November 23, 2007

Westinghouse and Wartime

The onset of World War II brought many changes to the American homemaker's way of life.

One change that affected homemakers took place in factories across the country. During the period between 1940-1945, manufacturing was diverted to wartime needs rather than the production of consumer goods. As a result, there were shortages of everything from automobiles to household electrical appliances.

Appliance manufacturers adapted to the changes just like everyone else. The war's influence is reflected in their promotional materials of that era.

The Care and Use of Electric Appliances in the Home - Revised Wartime Edition (1943, 48 pp.) is a good example of one of these wartime publications.

Published by the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, this booklet promoted the civilian war effort in several ways.

It strongly appealed to women to contribute to the war effort. A portion of the introductory text found on the first page follows:


We're in charge of our homes for the duration! The responsibility of keeping up the health, happiness and morale of our families rests entirely on us. We'll get no medals or citations or headlines for doing it well. We'll get nothing but the serene knowledge that we have played our active part in winning the war.

It isn't an easy job. We have more things to do these days...and less to do them with. Shortages of all kinds complicate the picture."
Whew! Julia Kiene, the Director of the Westinghouse Home Economics Institute really laid it on thick, didn't she?

During World War II, many homemakers joined the workforce for the first time, some of them even going to work in the aforementioned factories. These newly working women, now faced with juggling both a home and job, needed to find ways to cut down on the time required for performing housework and cooking chores.

To this end, Westinghouse offered advice and tips for using and caring for kitchen and table, laundry, and other small household appliances. They instructed women on how to achieve maximum use from their refrigerators and electric stoves and how to serve healthy, nutritious meals despite the shortages.

This illustration shows the many ways that meals could be cooked in a Roaster Oven. (You can click on the image to view a larger version.)

A special "Fix-It" section was a new addition to this type of publication and another one of the things setting this booklet apart from those published before the war. Appliance repairmen were among the millions of men who went off to to serve their country during World War II. The government encouraged homemakers to conserve both material goods and labor. Westinghouse offered simple, do-it-yourself repair tips for many electrical appliances which women could peform themselves. Things they could try before calling in a professional repairman.

There is a checklist of things to do before calling a serviceman out to the home. They suggest taking the appliances in for repair rather than requesting an in-home service call. They demonstrate through text and illustrations how easy it was to change a fuse or make simple repairs to cords and plugs.

The booklet shows how to troubleshooting problems and provides repair suggestions for all of the typical home appliances: refrigerators and ranges, roaster ovens, dishwashers, coffeemakers, toasters, waffle bakers and sandwich grills, clothes washers, irons and ironers, water heaters, lamps, vacumn cleaners and electric fans.

The booklet admonishes homemakers to "take care of their labor-saving electric appliances so they would do more and last longer." As a matter of fact, you'll find the pages of this edition liberally sprinkled with all sorts of wartime-related slogans:

Take good care of the things you have

Proper care means longer wear

Special wartime uses for your refrigerator

Refrigerator (range, washer, etc.) hints on saving time, work and money!

Take care of your range (washer, fan, etc.) will last longer

The Electric saver, health protector

Blackout Suggetions

The electric winter and summer

There's a new Spirit of Cooperation in Wartime America

Your War Jobs on the Home Front

Your home must be a refuge from the tenseness of war

Keep a record of your ration book numbers here
Despite all the patriotism, Westinghouse also managed to take the opportunity to work in a little brand awareness by coining a new term:

There's a new word.."CONSERVICE"

It's a combination of conservation and service, and is the word we use to describe this special wartime care that keeps your appliances doing more and lasting longer.

Conservice is the special wartime program of Westinghouse retailers. We sincerely recommend these Westinghouse retailers for any service you may need. We know how good they are and how conscientiously they'll try to help you.
On the rear cover, accompanied by a small drawing of Uncle Sam, Westinghouse tries to persuade people to buy War Bonds. People are encouraged to join the 10% Club, telling them to lend, not give--their dollars to the Government.


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