October 29, 2022 | Last updated Aug 17, 2023

Will Pigs Help Win the War?

After the United States entered World War I in April of 1917, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Herbert Hoover head of the U.S. Food Administration. Hoover believed that food would win the war and established specific days to encourage people to avoid eating particular foods in order to save them for soldiers’ rations and use overseas: meatless Mondays, wheatless Wednesdays, and “when in doubt, eat potatoes.”

Hoover also instigated a national campaign for greater swine production. He said in 1917: “We need a ‘keep-a-pig’ movement in this country—and a properly cared for pig is no more unsanitary than a dog.” In fact, said Hoover: “Every pound of fat is as sure of service as every bullet, and every hog is of greater value to the winning of this war than a shell.” Even suburbanites, he asserted, could help by raising hogs on domestic garbage as the Germans were doing. As a result of this campaign many patriotic cities repealed ordinances which forbade the raising of pigs within city limits, thereby enabling many of their citizens to raise their own pork.


John Nelson’s photograph, dating from 1913 to 1915, depicted young Hilda Nelson with a pig named Polly. During World War I city dwellers were asked to raise pigs to increase the nation’s food supply. NSHS RG 3542.PH:020-01

The Lincoln Sunday Star on July 10, 1918, discussed the Hoover mandate on its society page, commenting that hogs wasted less and yielded more value to their owners than “other animals we think are so much nicer to have around,” and urged its readers with “a bit of available ground that is not being used for anything but flowers or nice green grass,” to “fence it off, build a sty or house or whatever seems to you to be the best thing to call it, and herein deposit Mr. Pig.”

Read more about efforts on the home front to help win World War I, the end of which is officially celebrated this November 11, in a Timeline Tuesday blog post on the Nebraska State Historical Society website.

— Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor/Publications

(Updated 8/17/2023)

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

You May Also Enjoy

Marker Monday: Phelps County

Marker Monday: Phelps County

Why John G. Neihardt was named Nebraska Poet Laureate in 1921

Why John G. Neihardt was named Nebraska Poet Laureate in 1921

Emigrants along the Trails at Chimney Rock

Emigrants along the Trails at Chimney Rock

About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.