Notes and Documents
Using Government Documents:
The Food Administration Papers for Texas
N THE GRIP OF WORLD WAR I, AMERICANS BELIEVED THAT WITHOUT ENOUGH
food to sustain their fighting forces the European Allies might lose the
struggle. A great number of able-bodied men of France, Great Britain,
and other allied countries were embroiled in combat, and officials
feared that those women, children, and others unable to fight could not
grow sufficient crops necessary to feed the armies. Herbert Hoover's an-
swer to this urgent dilemma was to mobilize a predominantly volunteer
effort of American men and women whom he was confident were equal
to the task of feeding the embattled troops.
As newly appointed United States Food Administrator under Presi-
dent Woodrow Wilson, Hoover combined his education as an engineer
and his talent as an organizer to confront the food problem. From 1917
until its last days in 1919, he commandeered the Food Administration,
whose objective was to send and successfully distribute millions of tons
of food primarily to hungry soldiers and desperate civilians whose mis-
fortune it was to be waging war on their home ground.'
To understand how the project worked, this article will provide an
overview of the Food Administration and early publications about the
agency, relate a brief history of the disposition of the Food Administra-
tion papers, and focus on Texas papers with an eye toward suggesting
* Cynthia Brandimarte directs the Public History Program in the History Department at
Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos. She is the author of Inside Texas: Culture, Identzty,
and Houses, 1878-z92o and is currently working on a history of the tea room movement, a study
of women's social space in turn-of-the-century America.
'William Chnton Mullendore, Hastory of the United States Food Admmanstratzon, 1917-1z99 (Stan-
ford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1941), 42.
VOL. CIV, NO. 2 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY OCTOBER, 2000
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/. Accessed December 20, 2014.