Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Patricia Morris




mobilization, WWII, war effort, councils, labor force


The image of a unified home front of individuals and communities who rallied their efforts for a patriotic cause during World War Two is a widely held popular belief, supported by some scholars. This thesis examines the validity of the claim and whether or not mobilization efforts were a natural disposition for many Americans. Did citizens join together and engage in grass roots mobilization to strengthen the home front or merely act in their own self interest and only take substantial action when put under pressure by the government? The study relies on the records of the New York State War Council, specifically of the Office of Civilian Mobilization (OCM), which was responsible for establishing volunteer programs on the home front. The records reveal that the Office strenuously put forth efforts to push the localities to do more, increased its control over the counties’ and cities’ war efforts, and eventually conducted programs on its own. A great effort on the state Office’s part was required to get the majority of New Yorkers to serve their communities on the terms set out by the organization. In some counties, such as Schenectady, local war councils were effective in stimulating volunteer efforts. However, Schenectady was more of an exception because it head-started many of its programs prior to state intervention. Participation in New York State mobilization efforts was therefore quite irregular and the war did not galvanize patriotism to the extent that was popularized by earlier sources. The OCM’s efforts also reveal the central role that women played in the efforts to mobilize home front volunteers due to numbers that participated in their programs, specifically as Block Leaders. In deciding to volunteer instead of join the labor force, many women chose the “traditional” avenue for serving the war effort. This fact also demonstrates that the war helped to maintain instead the conventional attitude about women and their place in society.