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Putting It All Together

The Liberty ships and Victory ships were built in order to move troops and supplies during World War II. They were built in great numbers to counter the threat from submarines and to ensure that the flow of men and material was unhindered. The following activities will help students discover more about Liberty and Victory ships and the role their community and its residents played during World War II.

Activity 1: Pay Tribute to Local History
Have students design a postage stamp depicting an important event that happened in your community. Encourage students to be creative with designs and color. Students should share their "stamps" in class and hold a class discussion on why they chose to commemorate that particular event.

Activity 2: Serving the War Effort
By using simple designs, perfecting mass-production techniques and building the necessary shipyards, the U.S. was able to produce the massive fleet of merchant ships needed to win World War II. However, there were not enough workers for all the new shipyards. Many men who could have built ships were serving in the armed forces. As a result of this labor shortage, many factories and shipyards hired women, minorities, and men unable to go to war to work on the assembly lines and in the shipyards to manufacture the products needed to prosecute the war. The women were given the nickname "Rosie the Riveter" after a worker in a popular song.

Ask students to locate persons in the community or their families who worked in the farms, factories and shipyards during World War II. Students may find that local organizations that serve veterans and senior citizens are a good resource for locating these individuals in their communities. Organize a class project to participate in the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress by interviewing these persons and donating the interviews to the Library of Congress. See the Library of Congress Veterans History Project website at [http://www.loc.gov/folklife/vets/], or write to The Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave., SE, Washington, D.C. 20540 for more information. The project website offers sample interview questions for civilians who worked in support of the United States during the war. A free "Field Kit" is also available with tips for interviewing. You can download the kit for free on the project's website [http://www.loc.gov/vets/kitmenu.html].

Activity 3: Carrying the Supplies
The Liberty ships and Victory ships carried many different types of important supplies in support of the war including food, fuel, vehicles, ammunition, and spare parts. Ask students to locate farms or factories in your community that supplied the war effort. Have them research how they supported the war. The local historical society or library's local history section is a good place for students to start their research. Students may need to look at old phone books, city directories, or newspapers to determine which businesses were active in their community during the war and whether they were involved in war production. Students should share the information they have discovered in the form of papers, project boards, computer slideshows, skits, or oral presentations.

 

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