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

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The rendering industry, which by its very nature was a salvage operation, suffered from manpower shortages during the war. Many of its workers were drafted while others left it for better paying and more appealing employment. From 1942 through 1945 this industry lost as much as thirty percent of its work force.

There were three general groups of renderers: 1) those who worked in conjunction with slaughter and packing houses to process waste fats and bones, 2) those who collected waste fats from meat markets in large cities and rendered the same, and 3) those who collected fallen farm animals in rural areas and salvaged the carcasses. Document 44 concerns the latter group. The farmer who lost a horse, hog, or steer called the renderer who dispatched a truck to collect the dead animal. The time elapsed was important because the carcass posed a health hazard to other livestock as well as to the farmer and his family. And if the animal's meat was to be salvaged, it had to be rendered fairly quickly. Back at the plant the hide was removed and later salted, cured, and sold to tanners. The animal then was eviscerated and quartered. The four quarters were cooked in vats until the meat became sterilized and the fat largely separated. A pressing process further removed fat content. The fat or grease was sold to soap manufacturers. The meat scraps were purchased by makers of animal feed.

Many Illinois renderers, especially those in rural areas, were reluctant to collect kitchen fats saved by housewives. The wear and tear on trucks and the gasoline they burned were more efficiently spent on picking up fallen farm animals. American renderers produced 190,162,500 pounds of grease, 337,728,600 pounds of meat scraps, and 110,064,000 pounds of hides in 1945.

Points to Consider

Describe the byproducts derived from:
    the grease,
    the meat scraps,
    the hide.

Where would the 1,000 pound horse in question have come from?

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