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Classic Art: Rockwell Visits a Ration Board

Published: May 17, 2012


Line at Ration Board

“The Line at the Ration Board,”Sketch by Norman Rockwell.

Why are these people waiting in line? An artist named Norman Rockwell sketched these folks as they waited to appeal to a group of volunteers known as a ration board.

Everything from meat to gasoline was in short supply during World War II. And heaven help you if you were in dire need of a pair of nylons! The government introduced rationing, which meant you could only buy what your ration coupons allowed, no matter how much money you had. What you thought was an urgent need (for gasoline, as an example) and what the government thought was necessary were often at odds. And who regulated everyone’s fair share? Your local ration board, of course, like the one Rockwell visited (and painted) in 1944.