Readers are invited to join author and longtime Newtown resident Sharon L. Cohen as she journeys back to one of the country’s most pivotal moments: when Connecticut industries heeded President Roosevelt’s call to action in 1946 and organized their own battles to achieve a successful outcome in World War II.
In a matter of months, companies across the state shifted from consumer products to war products, dealt with labor and product shortages, and produced incredible innovations. In 1946, the State Department of War Records requested the company’s first-hand reports of these war experiences.
“The department wanted to make sure that these factories and mills received due rewards for their support of the war,” Cohen said recently. The Newtown Bee By email. “I learned that several of these original reports remained in the state archives and I wanted to see them with my own eyes.
“There’s nothing like hearing about the past firsthand from the people involved,” he added.
Cohen just published Connecticut Industries Unite for World War II Victory: Post-World War II Industry Reports to the Connecticut Department of War Records. According to the author, the book is not only a compilation of those reports, but also complementary information to help readers understand how some of the technology works.
The reports include information on how companies transitioned from making goods for consumers and other industries to making goods for the Armed Forces; dealt with shortages of labor and materials; and they demonstrated their ability to be very innovative. They made many new advances that greatly helped the war effort and individual troops.
Cohen will be the special guest on Tuesday, October 17, at an author program hosted by the CH Booth Library. The program will begin at 2 pm in the Library Meeting Room, 25 Main Street.
Cohen, a Wisconsin native, admits that she was “quite impressed with everything that Connecticut developed and produced during the war and, in fact, because it was a colony.”
The first pages of the new book celebrate a History of Production Excellence, as indicated by the subtitle of the Introduction. The state’s rich productive history began early, Cohen notes, before going on to outline many of the constitutional state’s early advances in agriculture, fishing, mining, and consumer products.
Chapter one explains the request issued after the war, from the Connecticut State Library’s War Records Department to businesses, requesting personal reports about their experiences in World War II. Cohen explains the reason for the request, what the department was looking for and how it should be presented, and even where readers can find more information.
The next 44 of the book’s 45 chapters focus on one company, allowing readers to start by finding stories about those that may be of personal interest.
With a background in social sciences, Cohen admitted that she was impressed by “how the country came together in such a short time despite being at major disagreements with each other and coming back from the depression,” she wrote elsewhere.
Industries tell how they innovated in less time than was thought possible.
“What was accomplished in such a short time was incredible,” Cohen said. “Humans have been able to strive for much better results when they want to.”
The book provides examples from all industrial areas (land, marine, and aircraft textiles) and work done in all eight Connecticut counties.
Beyond the briefings, which allow readers to hear different tones from each writer, Cohen also wanted readers to know why items were produced or developed and why those designs were so important on the battlefield.
“Not having any knowledge or ability in math and science, I explained in the sidebars about gravity, radar, gyroscopes, and Hubbell twist-lock electrical plugs, and why they were so important,” he said.
Connecticut was one of the leading states in the number of Army and Navy Excellence Awards received. According to the March 1, 1946 edition of Connecticut Industrya magazine published by the Connecticut Manufacturers Association, 175 state companies received the esteemed Army and Navy War Production Excellence Award (or E Award) for “the quality and quantity of production based on available facilities.”
Furthermore, “Connecticut…with its number of awards, ranked almost 100 percent above average and well above all other states with similar populations.”
Cohen moved to the East Coast for school, earned a master’s degree from Fairfield University, raised a family, and was a communications consultant for many of the same Connecticut companies featured in this book.
He has written several other books, most recently on mental health after the December 14 disaster.
“I wrote this book about World War II,” he said of his latest release, “because of my interest in history and to show the power of humanity when necessary.”
Cohen dedicated Connecticut Industries Unite for World War II Victory to “all the men and women, of all ages and backgrounds, who provided the underlying support and power to make their company and their country successful.”
Copies of the 169 pages. Connecticut Industries Unite for World War II Victory are available through High Point Publishing at highpointpub.com ($29.95 plus shipping).
Registration is requested for the October 17 program at the CH Booth Library; visit chboothlibrary.org. Additional information is also available by contacting Tom Nolan at 203-426-4533 or email@example.com.
Readers are invited to join author and Newtown resident Sharon L. Cohen as she travels to one of the country’s most pivotal moments, covered in her new book, “Connecticut Industries Unite For WWII Victory: Industry’s Post-WW2 Reports to Connecticut Dept of War”. Records.” —book cover courtesy of High Point Publishing
Sharon Cohen will be the featured guest during an author program scheduled for mid-October at the CH Booth Library. —archive photo