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Idaho from 1914 to 1920


Minidoka Relocation Center
Minidoka Relocation Center

During World War I (1914-1918), the people of Idaho enrolled in the military at a higher ratio than the national average. Farmers also contributed by increasing production to feed the troops. After the armistice, however, Idaho, along with the rest of the United States, experienced an economic depression. Agricultural prices fell dramatically and forced a large number of farmers into bankruptcy. Many left the state to seek better opportunities elsewhere. Prices recovered slowly during the 1920s. During the economic hard times of the 1930s known as the Great Depression, Idaho’s economy once again suffered. Farmers were particularly hard hit, both by drought and dropping prices for their produce. However, the state was able to absorb many people from Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Kansas, who migrated to Idaho to escape serious droughts in those states. These new settlers made up for the population lost earlier during the 1920s.

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president of the United States in 1932, he initiated a series of domestic programs, called the New Deal, to help the nation recover from the depression. This plan brought many benefits to Idaho. The Civilian Conservation Corps, a program developed to preserve natural resources and provide employment for young men, worked to eliminate a fungus that was attacking the state’s forests. A number of agricultural programs helped commercial and private farmers and promoted soil conservation. The Rural Electrification Program provided electricity to isolated areas. The Public Works Administration allotted money to the Forest Service to build roads and improve the state’s irrigation system. These programs significantly improved Idaho’s economic situation. Idaho’s economy improved with the onset of World War II (1939-1945). Timber from Idaho was used for a variety of military purposes, ranging from building boxes and crates to military barracks.

Silver and lead from Idaho were used in weapons. Farmers again provided large quantities of food staples. As in other parts of the country, labor shortages and farm prosperity encouraged farmers to invest in mechanized equipment and to enlarge their farms during World War II.

Idaho in the 1940s


Idaho was the site of 18 German and Italian prisoner-of-war camps. In 1942 after Japan bombed U.S. military forces in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Idaho also became the site of a relocation center for Japanese Americans who lived on the Pacific Coast. They were relocated by presidential order because they were considered to be security risks. About 10,000 Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans from Washington and Oregon were forced to abandon their possessions and move to the Minidoka Relocation Center in Idaho. The Japanese established a system of self-government and a community cooperative that offered the internees a number of services, including shoe and watch repair, general stores and beauty parlors, a newspaper, and a flower shop. Farmers in the region recruited the Japanese to work in their fields. Ironically, the Japanese who already lived in Idaho were not forced to move to relocation centers. In 1988 Congress allotted $20,000 in compensation to each Japanese American who was sent to an internment camp during World War II. "Idaho" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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