Illinois at War, 1941-1945
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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September 4, 1942


Washington designated the Chicago Metropolitan Area as an independent Office of Civilian Defense (OCD) on August 7, 1941 and named Chicago Democratic Mayor Edward J. Kelly the coordinator for the area. Chicagoland included most of Cook and parts of Lake, Du Page, and Will counties in Illinois and Lake County in Indiana. This was the same region the U.S. Census Bureau had defined as the Chicago Metropolitan Area in 1940. Containing over 4,500,000 residents, the Chicago Office of Civilian Defense covered more people than the remainder of downstate Illinois combined.

The Illinois State Council of Defense, headed by Republican Governor Dwight H. Green, selected retired Army General Frank Parker as its executive director to coordinate the downstate operation in July 1942. Parker chose Chicago as his headquarters and consequently the offices of the Illinois Defense Council and the Chicago OCD were within easy walking distance of each other. Although somewhat rivals, both agencies enjoyed friendly relations throughout their durations.

Colonel Gowenlock, coordinator of all state and local law enforcing agencies in Illinois and attached to the Illinois State Council of Defense, replied to this communication as follows:

Your letter dated September 4, 1942, is received and I regret that I leave at eight-
fifteen tomorrow morning for a meeting in Springfield, with representatives of the
United States Army, United States Navy, United States Coast Guard and various
police agencies of the State of Illinois. This meeting, which was called by me, is
of utmost importance to national defense and I cannot change my arrangements.

Gowenlock went on to pledge his full cooperation with the Chicago Civilian Morale Committee.

Points to Consider

How could rumors have affected civilian morale?

How do rumors get started?

What was the relationship between the Office of Civilian Defense for the Chicago Metropolitan Area and the coordinator of all law enforcing agencies for the state of Illinois?

What role did government propaganda serve in WWII?

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