War Industries Board

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War Industries Board
Agency overview
FormedJuly 8, 1917 (1917-07-08)
DissolvedJanuary 1, 1919
HeadquartersWashington D.C.

The War Industries Board (WIB) was a United States government agency established on July 28, 1917, during World War I, to coordinate the purchase of war supplies between the War Department (Department of the Army) and the Navy Department.[1] Because the United States Department of Defense (The Pentagon) would only come into existence in 1947, this was an ad hoc construction to promote cooperation between the Army and the Navy (with regard to procurement), it was founded by the Council of National Defense (which on its turn came into existence by the appropriation bill of August 1916). The War Industries Board was preceded by the General Munitions Board —which didn't have the authority it needed and was later strengthened and transformed into the WIB.[2]

The board was led initially by Frank A. Scott, who had previously been head of the General Munitions Board. He was replaced in November by Baltimore and Ohio Railroad president Daniel Willard. Finally, in January 1918, the board was reorganized under the leadership of financier Bernard M. Baruch.

The organization encouraged companies to use mass-production techniques to increase efficiency and urged them to eliminate waste by standardizing products. The board set production quotas and allocated raw materials. It also conducted psychological testing to help people find the right jobs.

The WIB dealt with labor-management disputes resulting from increased product demand during World War I. The government could not negotiate prices or handle worker strikes, so the War Industries Board regulated the two to decrease tensions by stopping strikes with wage increases to prevent a shortage of supplies going to the war in Europe.

Under the War Industries Board, industrial production in the U.S. increased 20 percent. However, the vast majority of the war material was produced too late to do any good.[3] The War Industries Board was decommissioned by an executive order on January 1, 1919.

With the war mobilization conducted under the supervision of the War Industries Board, unprecedented fortunes fell upon war producers and certain holders of raw materials and patents. Hearings in 1934 by the Nye Committee led by U.S. Senator Gerald Nye were intended to hold war profiteers to account.

Despite its relatively brief existence, the WIB was a major step in the development of national planning and government-business cooperation in the United States, and its precedents —like the National Recovery Administration— were influential during the New Deal and World War II.[4]

Members of the War Industries Board[edit]

The original seven members of the War Industries Board were:[5]

Other later members included:[6][7][8]


  1. ^ "War Purchase Board of Three proposed". The New York Times. July 11, 1917.
  2. ^ Risch, Erna (1989). Quartermaster Support of the Army: a history of the Corps, 1775-1939. Washington, DC. Center of Military History, United States Army. p.604.
  3. ^ Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, pp. 12-16, 77, Random House, New York, NY, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4.
  4. ^ war industries board. 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War, Freie Universität Berlin
  5. ^ Baruch, B. (1941). American Industry in the War: A Report of the War Industries Board. New York: Prentice-Hall, p.22.
  6. ^ Baruch, B. (1941). American Industry in the War: A Report of the War Industries Board. New York: Prentice-Hall, p.27.
  7. ^ Members of the War Industries Board Organization. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. 1919.
  8. ^ Haynes, Williams (1945). "Appendix X: The War Industries Board". American Chemical Industry: The World War I Period: 1912–1922. Vol. II. New York, New York: D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc. pp. 352–354.
  9. ^ "Clarence Bamberger, Utah Financier, Dies". The Salt Lake Tribune. 1984-02-19. p. 23. Retrieved 2024-01-28 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  10. ^ Bellafaire, Judith (2009). Women Doctors in War. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-60344-146-9.
  11. ^ "William B. Colver, 56, Dies in Washington". The Evening Press. 1926-05-29. p. 18. Retrieved 2024-01-12 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  12. ^ "Dr. Edwin F. Gay, Economist and War Aide, Dies". Los Angeles Times. 1946-02-09. p. 1. Retrieved 2024-01-16 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  13. ^ "Appoint Committee on Steel Situation." New York Times. May 18, 1918; Johnson, Paul. Modern Times: The World From the Twenties to the Nineties. Rev. ed. New York: HarperCollins, 2001. ISBN 0-06-093550-2 p. 16.
  14. ^ "Dr. Leith, Retired UW Prof, Dies". Kenosha Evening News. September 14, 1956. p. 22. Retrieved January 29, 2024 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  15. ^ Navy Ordnance Activities, World War I, 1917–1918, p. 29.
  16. ^ Cuff, Robert D. (1973). The War Industries Board: Business–Government Relations During World War I. The Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 120. Retrieved 2024-01-13 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  17. ^ "Thomas C. Powell, Retired Railway President Dies". Courier-News. 1945-02-10. p. 6. Retrieved 2024-01-28 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  18. ^ "Death Comes to Railway Official". The Cincinnati Enquirer. 1945-02-11. p. 16. Retrieved 2024-01-28 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon
  19. ^ "#110 Major General Seth Williams, Class of 1903, Helped Shape the Modern Marine Corps". Norwich University. Retrieved August 31, 2018.
  20. ^ Baruch, B. (1941). American Industry in the War: A Report of the War Industries Board. New York: Prentice-Hall, p.292.
  21. ^ "Pope Yeatman, Engineer, Dies". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 1953-12-06. p. B21. Retrieved 2024-01-16 – via Newspapers.com.Open access icon

Further reading[edit]

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