Office of Price Administration, Hartford Branch Records
Scope and Content
The collection consists of reports, memoranda, published regulations, handbooks, manuals, posters, booklets, and pamphlets generated by the Office of Price Administration during World War II. Additional materials are located in RG 035 at the Connecticut State Library.
The collection is open and available for research.
Restrictions on Use
Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from the owner(s) of the copyright.
The Office of Price Administration (OPA), a federal agency, was established in 1941 by Executive Orders 8734 and 8875. During its existence, the OPA was responsible for setting maximum prices on most products. “Ceilings were also imposed on residential rents. The regulations were gradually modified and extended by OPA administrators—notably Leon Henderson (1941-1942), Prentiss H. Brown (1943), and Chester B. Bowles (1943-1946)—until almost 90% of the retail food prices were frozen.” “Besides controlling prices, the OPA was also empowered to ration scarce consumer goods in wartime. Tires, automobiles, sugar, gasoline, fuel oil, coffee, meats, and processed foods were ultimately rationed.” [Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001]
The national office in Washington, D.C., generated the majority of the documents in this collection. Many of the documents were printed pages, leaflets or booklets sent by the main office to the regional branches, one of which was located in Hartford, Connecticut. The regional offices also received teletypes providing interpretations of the price control regulations based on specific cases. The OPA and several other agencies were consolidated to form the Office of Temporary Controls in December 1946 by Executive Order 9809 and disbanded in 1947.
Chester Bowles was the Connecticut State Director for the Office of Price Administration from 1942 to 1943. He also served as the general manager of the OPA in Washington, D.C., from July to October 1943, at which time he was appointed by President Roosevelt to be the price administrator of the OPA. He held the position until February 1946.
Dr. William Harrison Carter, Jr., professor of economics at the University of Connecticut, served as the state price economist for Connecticut (1943-1944) and as a consulting economist from 1944 to 1946. Employed by the University in the Economics (Agricultural) Department since 1931, Dr. Carter was Head of the Economics Department from 1945 until 1954, when he became Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, a position he held until his retirement in 1966.
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Language of Materials
The Office of Price Administration, a federal agency, was established in 1941 by Executive Orders 8734 and 8875. During its existence, the OPA was responsible for setting maximum prices on most products. The OPA and several other agencies were consolidated to form the Office of Temporary Controls in December 1946 by Executive Order 9809 and disbanded in 1947. [Additional materials are located in RG 035 at the Connecticut State Library.]
Series I: Price Control Reports (1943-1947) consists primarily of reports and memoranda generated by the Hartford Branch of the OPA. The majority of the reports are brief in nature and tend to be memorandum-like in format. A notable exception is “The History of Milk Pricing in New England” which is considerably longer and more detailed than other reports. Many of the reports are concerned with specific cases of the local OPA office, attempting to resolve disputes concerning the legal maximum prices of goods and services. The series is arranged alphabetically by business type and chronologically therein.
Series II: Price Control Master File (1941-1946) contains the cumulative set of regulations. [Regulations are also located in Series III, although arranged differently.] There are six types of regulations arranged in four sets of independently numbered sequences: 1. Food Products Regulations (FPRs) 2. Maximum Price Regulations (MPRs), Revised Price Schedules (RPSs), and Supplementary Storage Regulations (SSRs) 3. Supplementary Regulations (SRs) 4. Supplementary Orders (SOs) In addition to the six basic types of regulations, there are revised and temporary versions. For example, the folder labeled “RMPR 129” is listed as an MPR with the notation “Rev.” Each regulation may include one or more of the following: the most recent version, previous versions, teletypes, forms, government booklets, and local memoranda. Those few folders that do not follow this pattern are typically unnumbered and highly specialized in nature.
Series III: Handbooks and Manuals (1942-1951) contains a set of four handbooks and a set of three manuals that originated within the OPA during and immediately after World War II. In addition to these materials, the series also contains external reports presented to Congressional committees by the OPA, a publications from the Office of War Information on controlling the cost of living, and a folder entitled “General Ceiling Price Regulations” from the Office of Price Stabilization. The handbooks and manuals document the workings of the OPA and, to a lesser extent, one of its successors.
Series IV: Desk Books (undated) contains a four column General Desk Book, eighteen volumes of the Commodity Desk Books and an Opinions and Decisions Desk Book consisting of five, non-consecutive volumes. These materials also contain the price regulations. Unlike the items in Series II, which document the development of the individual regulations, these materials provide a “snapshot” if the regulations as updated versions were issued, placed in the books and the superceded materials thrown out.
Series V: Posters and Propaganda (circa 1941-1943) contains war bond drive material. These materials were not created by the OPA but were used by the OPA in their activities. The series contains numerous posters, pamphlets and empty war bond stamp booklets.
The collection was brought to the University by Dr. W. Harrison Carter, Jr., professor of economics and former state price economist (1943-1944) and consulting economist (1944-1946).
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