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History Advisor: Judy Barrett Litoff

Conference presentation: 2011 National Conference on Undergraduate Research, Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York, March 30-April 2, 2011

Publication: 2011 Proceedings of the National Conference on Undergraduate Research

Abstract

World War II served as a major force for change in the lives of many American women. Whether on the home front or overseas, the wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters of the United States played an integral role in the American quest for victory. One such woman was Sylvia Brooklyn Denhoff. With a degree in home economics from Syracuse University, Sylvia was hired in 1943 to write “food columns” for the left-wing newspaper PM. Her columns contained information on substitutes for scarce foods, such as meat and butter, the importance of observing price ceilings, recipes for healthy, nutritious meals, and the point system of rationing. Drawing from the more than 150 “food columns” that she wrote as well as extensive interviews with the author, this paper provides an in-depth analysis of Sylvia’s work at PM . It illustrates how her advice on how to make-do during the trying days of rationing and food shortages was a crucial part of the United States government’s mission to get American women on the home front to do their part for the war effort by conserving food, abiding by rationing restrictions, and ensuring that that their families ate nutritious meals.

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