The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001 Page: 264
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
how the collection can reveal much about recent cultural inquiries into
ethnicity, gender, and class. The records also shed information on the
role of government, not just individuals, on wartime mobilization and
the formation and implementation of the welfare state.
An Overview of the Food Administration
Just days after the United States formally entered World War I in April
1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for broad authority to
control the production, conservation, and distribution of food. Despite
some opposition in the Senate, the Lever Food and Fuel Control Act be-
came law on August lo, 1917. Wilson immediately issued an executive
order that established the Food Administration and appointed Herbert
Hoover as its administrator.2
Unofficially, Hoover had already begun his assignment. Four months
earlier he had returned from Europe at Wilson's request and set up his
headquarters at Washington's New Willard Hotel. On May 4, 1917,
Hoover met with a handful of advisors who were to form the nucleus of
the organization. They began activating a volunteer structure that would
be in strong force by August.
During June and July volunteers alerted the press, the motion-picture
industry, and advertising networks. They recruited speakers, enlisted
schools, libraries, churches, fraternal organizations, and patriotic soci-
eties to cooperate, and developed conservation programs relying on vol-
unteer efforts. Hoover's group embarked on the first pledge-card
campaign and met with delegates from milling, canning, and grocery
businesses to discuss the issues affecting their industries. They estab-
lished divisions related to baking, dairy products, grain, potatoes, sugar,
and others to make sure that no time was lost in organizing once the leg-
islation did come.4
For the almost two years of its existence the agency rushed forward on
its dual tasks of organizing, in Hoover's words, "the service and self-de-
nial of the American people so as to supply the Allies with foodstuffs
Some members of the Senate wanted to include other commodities In the legislation and to
muddy the waters by raising the issue of prohibition. The Lever Food Control Act's descriptive ti-
tle is "An Act to provide further for the national security and defense by encouraging the pro-
duction, conserving the supply, and controlling the distribution of food products and fuel."
Mullendore, Hstory of the United States Food Administratzon, 55-57.
s "Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the United States Food Administration, 1917-1920,
Part I, The Headquarters Organization" (cited hereafter as Inventory), (National Archives, Wash-
ington, D.C.; cited hereafter as NA), ix. Early Food Administration organizers were Ray Lyman
Wilbur, Julius H. Barnes, Edgar Rickard, Alonzo E. Taylor, and Vernon L. Kellogg.
4 Regarding the Food Administration's organization, Mullendore states in Hstory of the United
States Food Administratzon, p. 67, that there was never a chart showing the divisions of the organi-
zation. The agency grouped roughly around problem areas rather than investing in structure
which tended to change in this short-lived agency.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 104, July 2000 - April, 2001, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101221/m1/316/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.