-Contributed by Cathy Faye.
Yesterday, we posted a visual quiz to the CHP facebook page, showing the image below and asking the pressing question: what is it?
I know, I know…the suspense has been killing you! Well, here’s the short answer: It is a technical manual on arithmetic, issued by the U. S. Army on May 14, 1943.
Now here’s the longer (dare I say, more interesting!) answer. Manuals like this were designed for recruits with below average reading, writing, and math skills. Without extra instruction, such recruits were deemed unfit for basic military training. Instead of being turned away, they were sent to Special Training Units, where they received basic educational instruction to get them up to speed in these areas. Recruits would first pass through a “Reception Center”, where they received their clothing, inoculations, primary classification interviews, and a basic orientation to Army life. Then, those that were deemed unfit due to subpar academic skills were transferred to Special Training Units.
At the Special Training Units, instructors used manuals and quizzes like this to improve recruits’ skills. Notice the reference to “Private Pete?” He was a recurring character throughout the learning materials. The manuals are full of really interesting images, which makes sense; they were designed to be rich with visual aids, since the majority of these recruits were categorized as having below-average reading skills.
Between June, 1943 and October, 1944, more than 180,000 recruits were sent to such Units. Training usually lasted about 8 weeks and those still deemed unfit at the end were honorably discharged. The success rate was about 85%. Here are some sample induction rates:
Interested in seeing more? The entire manual is available here in the CHP Digital Repository. Be sure to follow us on Facebook so you don’t miss these fascinating finds. Or, if you have the time and the inkling, go hunting through our vast collections yourself!