Guide to Federal Records

Records of the War Production Board [WPB]


(Record Group 179)
1918-47 (Bulk 1939-47)

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 179.1 Administrative History
  • 179.2 Records of the War Production Board 1918-47 (Bulk 1939-47)
    • 179.2.1 Policy records
    • 179.2.2 Minutes and transcripts of proceedings
    • 179.2.3 Orders and regulations
    • 179.2.4 Reports, special studies, and reference files
    • 179.2.5 Miscellaneous records
    • 179.2.6 Records of operating units
    • 179.2.7 Records of staff offices and officials
  • 179.3 Records of the Combined Raw Materials Board 1942-46
  • 179.4 Records of the Combined Production and Resources Board (CPRB) 1942-47
  • 179.5 Cartographic Records (General) 1941-42
  • 179.6 Motion Pictures (General) 1940-44
  • 179.7 Sound Recordings (General) 1942-45
  • 179.8 Still Pictures (General) 1942-45


179.1 Administrative History

Established: In the Office for Emergency Management (OEM) by EO 9024, January 16, 1942, superseding the Supply Priorities Allocation Board and, by EO 9040, January 24, 1942, the Office of Production Management.

Predecessor Agencies:

  • War Resources Board (1939)

In the Advisory Commission to the Council of National Defense:

  • Industrial Production Division (1940-41)
  • Industrial Materials Division (1940-41)
  • Labor Division (1940-41)

In the Office for Emergency Management:

  • Office of Production Management (OPM, 1941-42)
  • Priorities Board, OPM (1941)
  • Supply Priorities Allocation Board (1941-42)

Functions: Exercised general direction over federal war procurement and production programs.

Abolished: Effective November 3, 1945, by EO 9638, October 4, 1945.

Successor Agencies: Civilian Production Administration (CPA), OEM (1945-46); Office of Temporary Controls (1946-47); Department of Commerce as liquidator (1947).

Finding Aids: Fred G. Halley and Josef C. James, comps., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the War Production Board, PI 15 (1948); Harry Schwartz, comp., "Supplement to Preliminary Inventory No. 15, Records of the War Production Board," NM 57 (1965); supplement in National Archives microfiche edition of preliminary inventories.

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the War Production Board in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.

Subject Access Terms: World War II agency.

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179.2 Records of the War Production Board
1918-47 (Bulk 1939-47)

History: War Resources Board established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a civilian advisory group to collaborate with the Joint Army and Navy Munitions Board in formulating economic mobilization policies, August 9, 1939. Abolished November 24, 1939. Advisory Commission to the World War I Council of National Defense revived, May 29, 1940. Three of its functional divisions (Industrial Production, Industrial Materials, and Labor), responsible for the stockpiling and delivery of critical raw materials, were integrated into the Office of Production Management, established in OEM by EO 8629, January 7, 1941, to develop and execute policies relating to the production of defense materials. Pursuant to EO 8875, August 28, 1941, OPM's Priorities Board was replaced by the Supply Priorities Allocation Board, OEM, which was responsible for coordinating the supply and allocation of defense-related materials and commodities. Supply Priorities Allocation Board, and subsequently all of OPM, superseded by War Production Board, January 1942. See 179.1.

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179.2.1 Policy records

Textual Records: "Policy Documentation File," comprising selected records of organizational units of the WPB and its predecessors and successors, 1939-47 (843 ft.), with an index (300 ft.). "Select Document File" of records selected from units of the Civilian Production Administration and its predecessors for inclusion in the "policy documentation file," but not interfiled when the CPA was discontinued, 1939-47 (290 ft.). Records relating to industrial mobilization in World War II ("Related Materials File," "Mobilization Planning File"), 1940-47 (290 ft. and 419 rolls of microfilm), with subject indexes.

Microfilm Publications: M186, M187, M195, M196, M911.

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179.2.2 Minutes and transcripts of proceedings

Textual Records: Minutes of the Advisory Commission to the Council of National Defense, 1940-41; Emergency Facilities Committee of the Advisory Commission to the Council of National Defense, 1940-41; Supply Priorities Allocation Board, 1941-42; Council of the Office of Production Management, 1941-42; War Production Board, 1942-45; WPB Planning Committee, 1942-43; WPB Production Executive Committee, 1943-44; WPB Requirements Committee, 1942-45; WPB Committee on Conservation in Construction, 1943-44; and CPA Priorities Policy Committee, 1946- 47. Transcripts of proceedings of the WPB, relative to critical materials, radomes, and coordination of governmental field activities, July 1943; WPB Committee on Conservation in Construction, October 1943-September 1944; CPA Clearance Committee, August 1946-March 1947; and CPA Priorities Policy Committee, December 1945-February 1947.

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179.2.3 Orders and regulations

Textual Records: Orders, regulations, directives, and related records of the WPB and the CPA ("Recording Secretary's Files"), 1941-47. Equipment ("E"), limitation ("L"), conservation ("M"), preference rating ("P"), rubber ("R"), and utilities ("U") orders, 1941-47, with gaps. Orders and regulations manual, 1941- 47. Controlled Materials Plan ("CMP") regulations, 1943-45. Priority regulations, 1941-47, with gaps.

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179.2.4 Reports, special studies, and reference files

Textual Records: Annual report of the WPB, 1944. Quarterly reports of operating units of the CPA, 1945-46. Program control reports, 1944-45. Historical reports relating to policies and operations of the WPB and its predecessors ("Special Studies Series"), 1946-47. Historical studies, bibliographies, and other records relating to the organization and activities of the War Industries Board ("War Industry Board Manuals"), 1941-42. Organizational and procedural data ("Administrative Reference File"), 1918-47. Industrial Mobilization for War series: Industrial Mobilization for War, Vol. I, Program and Administration; "Industrial Mobilization for War, Vol. II, Materials and Products"; and "Industrial Reconversion and Civilian Production, Vol. III, History of the Civilian Production Administration, 1940-46," consisting of published (vol. 1), and unpublished mimeographed and typescript drafts, some incomplete, of the projected three-volume history of industrial mobilization.

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179.2.5 Miscellaneous records

Textual Records: Microfilm copy of applications for certificates of necessity, protection, and nonreimbursement, 1940-41 (1,101 rolls). Records of the WPB Appeals Board, including case files and summary card records, 1942-47. WPB manpower survey reports and budget estimates, 1943-44. Office procedures file, 1942-46. Microfilm copy of press releases, 1940-47 (53 rolls).

Microfilm Publications: M185, M1200, M1239.

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179.2.6 Records of operating units

Textual Records: Records of the Division of Personnel Management, including Classification Section subject file, 1941-45; Field Unit general correspondence, 1943-46; position descriptions, 1942-43; and lists of cancelled positions, 1942-45. Records of the Division of Industry Operations, consisting of the Division Director's files, 1942-43; office file of the special assistant to the Division Director, 1942; and records relating to the chemical industry, 1944-45. Records of the Foreign Division, including Director's file, 1944-46; and records of the Assistant and Deputy Director relating to lend-lease to the Soviet Union, 1944-46. Correspondence of the Office of General Counsel, 1941- 46. Correspondence, contracts, and reports of the Office of Production Research and Development, relating to consumer products, industrial processes, metals, and minerals, 1941-46. Correspondence, subject files, and other records of the Resources Protection Board relating to the protection of defense plants and railroad bridges and tunnels, 1942-45. Director's files and general files of the Office of Industry Advisory Committees, 1942-47.

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179.2.7 Records of staff offices and officials

Textual Records: Microfilm copy of reading file of the assistant chief, Aircraft Branch, Production Division, OPM, 1941 (3 rolls). Files of the assistant to the Chairman, WPB, 1942-44; administrative assistant to the Chairman, 1943-44; and special assistant to the Chairman, 1942-45, with gaps. Office files of the Executive Secretary, WPB, 1941-46. Correspondence and other records of the Recording Secretary, WPB, 1942-47. Records of the special assistant to the Directors of the Facilities Bureau and the Construction Bureau, WPB, 1942-45. Records of the head of the Review and Analysis Staff, Program Bureau, WPB, 1943-44. Office file of the Chief of the Historical Records Section, WPB, 1941- 42. Correspondence of the Director of the Bureau of International Supply, CPA, 1946. Files of the Director of the Bureau of Demobilization, CPA, 1946-47. Records of the Chief of the Policy Analysis and Records Branch, CPA, 1946-47.

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179.3 Records of the Combined Raw Materials Board
1942-46

History: Established as a World War II combined committee (United States-United Kingdom), January 26, 1942, to coordinate the development, expansion, and use of raw materials. Abolished December 31, 1945.

Textual Records: General correspondence, cables, minutes, decisions and recommendations, reports, and publications, 1942- 45. Agendas, minutes, and decisions of the Advisory Operating Committee and the Committee on Fertilizer, 1942-45. Records of the Office of the Executive Secretary relating chiefly to liberated areas, 1942-45. Correspondence of staff officers and analysts, relating to metals and other commodities, 1942-46.

Finding Aids: Sarah D. Powell, comp., "Preliminary Inventory of the Textual Records of the Combined Raw Materials Board and the Combined Production and Resources Board," NM 87 (August 1967).

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179.4 Records of the Combined Production and Resources Board
(CPRB)
1942-47

History: Established pursuant to a Presidential memorandum to WPB Chairman Donald Nelson, June 9, 1942, as a combined committee (United States-United Kingdom) to integrate war production programs, coordinate military requirements, minimize demands upon shipping, and meet essential civilian needs. Expanded, November 10, 1942, to include a Canadian representative. Terminated, December 31, 1945, with commodity allocation functions assigned, effective January 1, 1946, to the Combined Rubber Committee, the Combined Coal Committee, the Combined Textile Committee, the Combined Tin Committee, and the Combined Hides, Skins, and Leather Committee.

Textual Records: Agendas, minutes, directives, issuances, general correspondence, and a master file of cables received and sent, 1942-45. Records relating to the allocation of materials to liberated areas and to programs conducted by the Combined Civil Affairs Committee and the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, 1944-45. Records of the Executive Officer, 1944-45; CPRB Registry, 1942-45; statistical officer, 1943-45; public relations officer, 1944-45; director of research and statistics, 1943-45; and Office of the Special Assistant, 1942-45. Records of committee meetings, 1942-45. Minutes, correspondence, and final report of the Conference on the Unification of Engineering Standards, 1943-45. General correspondence of the office of William L. Batt, U.S. deputy member of the CPRB, 1940-46. General correspondence and other records of the Material Coordinating Committee, 1941-45. Records of the postwar international commodity committees, 1945-47.

Finding Aids: Sarah D. Powell, comp., "Preliminary Inventory of the Textual Records of the Combined Raw Materials Board and the Combined Production and Resources Board," NM 87 (August 1967).

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179.5 Cartographic Records (General)
1941-42

Maps: United States, overprinted to show locations of munitions plants, June and October 1941 (2 items). United States, showing regional boundaries of the WPB, 1942 (1 item).

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179.6 Motion Pictures (General)
1940-44

Signal Corps Film Communique (War Film 20-1), documenting military operations in various theaters of operations, 1943 (1 reel). The Price of Victory, depicting Allied and Axis military and political leaders, 1942 (1 reel). Subcontracting for Defense, 1941 (1 reel); Drive for Anthracite, ca. 1942 (1 reel); Joe Comes Back, ca. 1943 (1 reel); Jalopies Parading for Victory, ca. 1943 (1 reel); Making Steel for War, ca. 1943 (1 reel); Save Those Tools, ca. 1943 (1 reel); Let's Finish the Job Together, ca. 1944 (1 reel); Behind the Winning Punch!, ca. 1944 (1 reel); and The Caravan, n.d. (1 reel), documenting various aspects of war production. A New Voice for Mr. X, teaching improved telephone manners, ca. 1940 (1 reel). Know Your Typewriter, an introduction to government office equipment, 1941 (1 reel).

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179.7 Sound Recordings (General)
1942-45

Radio broadcasts, including "Men, Machines and Victory," "You Can't Do Business With Hitler," and "Fibber McGee and Molly," and consisting of dramatizations, speeches, interviews, and entertainment featuring, among others, Eleanor Roosevelt, Donald M. Nelson, Joseph C. Grew, Frank Knox, Leon Henderson, and a number of writers, actors, and actresses, 1942-45 (109 items). Instructional records used in training mail and messenger service personnel, secretaries, and switchboard operators, n.d. (11 items).

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179.8 Still Pictures (General)
1942-45

Posters (1,282 images): Used in production drives initiated by the WPB, 1942-43 (WP).

Lantern Slides (320 images): Used in training staff members and industrial employees engaged in war production, 1942-45 (S, C).

Filmstrips (17 items): War production, 1942-45 (FS).


Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

Ordering information

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.


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