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Oil Culture$
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Ross Barrett and Daniel Worden

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780816689682

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816689682.001.0001

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Essential Driving and Vital Cars American Automobile Culture in World War II

Essential Driving and Vital Cars American Automobile Culture in World War II

(p.91) 5 Essential Driving and Vital Cars American Automobile Culture in World War II
Oil Culture

Sarah Frohardt-Lane

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter examines automobile culture in the United States during World War II, with particular emphasis on the Office of War Information’s propaganda that implored Americans to alter their driving habits. It first considers the rubber scarcity that prompted the federal government to ration rubber and gasoline before turning to the government propaganda and advertising that portrayed driving as essential to Americans while simultaneously denigrating public transportation, walking, and other alternative modes of transportation. It shows that the propaganda strengthened Americans’ commitment to private automobile travel by celebrating carpooling as a patriotic act, for example. It also looks at how residents of Detroit, Michigan, resisted the imposition of gasoline rationing and asserted their need to drive in spite of the war.

Keywords:   automobile culture, United States, World War II, Office of War Information, driving, rubber, government propaganda, public transportation, automobile travel, gasoline rationing

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