‘Connecticut Industries Unite for WWII Victory’ Author Program Planned
Readers are invited to join longtime Newtown resident and author Sharon L. Cohen to travel back to one of the country’s most pivotal times: when Connecticut industries heeded President Roosevelt’s call in 1946 to action and staged their own battles to bring a successful WWII outcome.
Within months, companies statewide converted from consumer to war products, dealt with labor and product shortages, and produced incredible innovations. In 1946, the State Department of War Records requested firsthand company reports on these war experiences.
“The department wanted to make sure these factories and mills received due reward for their war support,” Cohen recently told The Newtown Bee via email. “I learned that a number of these original reports remained in the state archives and wanted to see them for myself.
“There’s nothing like hearing about the past firsthand from the people involved,” she added.
Cohen has just published Connecticut Industries Unite For WWII Victory: Industry’s Post-WW2 Reports to Connecticut Dept of War Records. The book is not just a compilation of those reports, according to the author, but also supplemental information to help readers understand how some of the technology worked.
The reports include information on how companies converted from making goods for consumers and other industries to those for the Armed Forces; dealt with labor and materials shortages; and proved their ability to be very innovative. They made many new advancements that greatly helped the war effort and individual troops.
Cohen will be the special guest on Tuesday, October 17, for an author program hosted by C.H. Booth Library. The program will begin at 2 pm in the Gathering Room of the library, 25 Main Street.
A Wisconsin native, Cohen admits she was “quite impressed with all that Connecticut developed and produced in the war — and, actually, since it was a colony.”
The new book’s opening pages celebrate a History of Production Excellence, as indicated by the subtitle of the Introduction. The state’s rich production history began very early, Cohen notes, before going on to outline many of the Constitution State’s earliest advances in agriculture, fishing, mining, and consumer products.
Chapter One explains the request issued following the war, from the Connecticut State Library Department of War Records to companies, asking for personal reports on their World War II experiences. Cohen explains the reasoning behind the request, what the department was looking for and how it was to be submitted, and even where readers can find further information.
The next 44 of the book’s 45 chapters are focused on one company, allowing readers to begin by finding stories about those that may be of personal interest.
With a background in social sciences, Cohen admitted she was impressed at “how the country came together in such a short time despite being at great odds with one another and torn by the depression,” she wrote elsewhere.
Industries narrate how they innovated in less time than thought possible.
“What was accomplished in such a short time was incredible,” noted Cohen. “Humans have been able to push themselves to much better results when having the desire.”
Examples of all industrial areas — textiles to land, sea, and aircraft production — and work accomplished in all eight Connecticut counties are offered in the book.
Beyond the reports, which allow readers to hear different tones of 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 being at all versed or able in math and science, I explained in sidebars about gravity, radar, gyroscopes, and Hubbell twistlock electrical plugs, and how they were so important,” she said.
Connecticut was one of the leading states in the number of Army-Navy Excellence Awards received. According to the March 1, 1946, issue of Connecticut Industry, a journal published by the Manufacturers’ Association of Connecticut, 175 state companies received the esteemed Army-Navy Excellence in War Production Award (or E Award) for “quality and quantity of production based on available facilities.”
In addition, “Connecticut ... with its number of awards, stood nearly 100 percent above the average and far above all other states with similar populations.”
Cohen moved to the East Coast to attend school, earning an MA at Fairfield University, raising a family, and being a communication consultant for many of the same Connecticut businesses in this book.
She has written several other books, the most recent on disaster mental health following 12/14.
“I wrote this WWII book,” she said of her latest release, “because of my interest in history and to show the power of humanity when needed.”
Cohen dedicated Connecticut Industries Unite For WWII Victory to “all the men and women, of all ages and background, who provided the underlying support and power for their company and country to succeed.”
Copies of the 169-page Connecticut Industries Unite For WWII Victory are available through High Point Publishing, at highpointpub.com ($29.95 plus shipping and handling).
Registration is requested for the October 17 program at C.H. Booth Library; visit chboothlibrary.org. Additional information is also available by contacting Tom Nolan at 203-426-4533 or firstname.lastname@example.org.