Des Moines Area Community College

Phone: (515) 250-8542
Email: LLossian(at)aol(dot)com

Dr. Lisa Payne Ossian is professor of history at Des Moines Area Community College in central Iowa. Ossian earned her master’s degree in women’s studies at Eastern Michigan University and her doctorate at Iowa State University in agricultural history and rural studies. She was elected at the National Education Association’s national 2011 convention to serve a three-year term as one of two at-large higher education directors on the NEA’s national board and has also been elected twice to the State Historical Society of Iowa Board as well as selected for the Hoover Presidential Education Committee, OAH Committee on Community Colleges, NEA’s Thought & Action, and Humanities Iowa Speakers’ Bureau. Her three books– (1) The Home Fronts of Iowa, 1939-1945; (2) The Forgotten Generation: American Children and World War II; and (3) The Depression Dilemmas of Rural Iowa, 1929-1933–were published by the University of Missouri Press. She is currently researching and writing her next book tentatively titled ‘The Grimmest Spectre’: The World Famine Emergency, Herbert Hoover’s Mission, and the Invisible Year, 1946. She has presented her current and past research at a number of international and national conferences.

The Home Fronts of Iowa, 1940-45
The home front contributions of Iowans and Americans divided into four historical fronts: the farm front, the production front, the community front, and the kitchen front. Food for Freedom directed American farmers in the all-out production needed for the war effort and the Allies’ relief, and Iowa farmers led the nation in crop and livestock production. Iowa’s small businesses and industries such as Maytag added to the “Arsenal of Democracy” by filling many military sub-contract orders while the two newly constructed ordnance plants in Burlington and Ankeny produced thousands of bombs and millions of machine gun bullets. Iowa’s small towns and cities matched and exceeded records in the eight War Bond Drives as well as the numerous scrap drives for iron, paper, rubber, and tin, and Iowa’s women met the rationing and production requirements demanded from the federal government in all home kitchens.

The Early Depression Dilemmas of Rural Iowa, October 1929 to November 1932
The early depression years, from October 1929 through November 1932 during President Herbert Hoover’s administration, marked the depths of the Great Depression for the United States. For Iowa and other Midwestern States, these years actually marked the middle of two decades of agricultural depression which began shortly after the Great War. The years imply desperation—both economically and emotionally—but Iowans—rural and urban—met the challenges often with great wit, humor, and intelligence. Rural Iowans especially wrestled with several economic and social dilemmas—the aftermath of the 1929 New York Stock Exchange crash, the increasing tariffs and agricultural consequences, the politics of farm children’s health, the continuation and effectiveness of Prohibition, the demise of the soft coal mining industry in Iowa’s District 13, increasing rural violence, changing perceptions of rural artistic creations, and the consequences of the 1932 presidential election for rural Iowans. Iowans not only met the challenges but developed different ideas and plans which proliferated in the agricultural landscape—truly depression dilemmas.

Equipment required: overhead projector