One of the great things about the “war effort” during World War II was that almost everyone gave something – even those who were not on the front line. All consumers made sacrifices on many goods that were better used to serve the troops, and production across the U.S. ramped up.
After Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt told Congress “powerful enemies must be out-fought and out-produced.” America set staggering new benchmarks for production during the war, doubling output in just 4 years. Because so much of the male workforce was enlisted, women did much of the labor that took place in factories for both the domestic and military goods produced. The growth and innovation that occurred during the war helped solidify the manufacturing boom that helped grow the middle class through the 1950s.
The War at Home for RP
Like many American companies during World War II, Research Products Corporation – the parent company of Aprilaire – designed and manufactured products specifically to support the war effort. Some of these products made their way to the battlefield while others were used on the home front.
- “Curtain is Raid Protection” – This was the headline in a 1943 newspaper clipping about some of the company’s war-related products. One photo shows Research Product’s office worker Ann Bock demonstrating the use of the company’s blackout curtain and flying glass protector. Blackouts were considered a means a defense against air raids during World War II because military aircraft still relied largely on human site when identifying targets on a bomb run.
Blackouts were more common on the east coast, and the caption of the article points out that Ms. Bock “doesn’t really fear Madison is going to be bombed.” She was happy to do her part for the war effort, though.
- RP Silica Gel – This was an absorbent material that helped prevent moisture damage and corrosion and damage to vital war goods from machine guns and airplanes to antibiotics. You still see silica gel packs today in new products like shoes (although Aprilaire’s parent company sold off the product line shortly after the end of the war).
- Expanded Fiber Material – Similar to the material used to make the blackout curtains, this heavy kraft paper was also used to make camouflage, air filters and other products for the battlefield. Newspaper articles discussing the products had headlines including, “Madison Sends ‘Silent Convey’ to Guard Vital War Machines,” and “Allies Depend on Research Products Corp.”
Aprilaire is proud of its history as one of the countless manufacturers who worked to support the war effort. The work done by people of all backgrounds in factories across the United States was vital to U.S. success during World War II.