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one bomber airplane in a hngar with two men sitting on top at the cockpit workiing
B-24E (Liberator) bombers at Willow Run, Michigan. Howard R. Hollem, photographer United States. Office of War Information.

WWII: Detail from War Supply Contracts

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Business Reference gets a fair number of questions about contracting with the United States government and since that is my area I tend to keep an eye out for good sources.  Most people are considering becoming contractors so they get directed to FedBizOpps.   Sometimes researchers want to know who got what contract or want general statistics.  Thankfully, there are sources for those questions as well – the Federal Procurement Data System (free but registration required),, the Defense Department (more current data), and the Statistical Abstract.

Because this is Library of Congress things aren’t always that simple and the above sources only go so far.  Questions about old military contracts are quite popular and it was while answering a question on a World War II military contract that I found four titles that have become favorites.

  • The Alphabetical Listing of Major War Supply Contracts (1943) was published by the War Production Board and is just one volume. It includes contracts though 1943 for those contracts above $50,000 for the Army, Navy, Maritime Commission, Treasury, and purchasing missions of foreign governments. It is organized by company with the individual contracts for that company listed chronologically.
  • The Alphabetic Listing of Major War Supply Contracts (1946?) was published by the Civilian Production Administration.  It is cumulative for contracts between June 1940 and September 1945 for major contracts above $50,000. This 4 volume title included contracts for the Army, Navy, Maritime Commission, Treasury (for lend-lease), and purchasing missions of foreign governments. It is also organized by company.
  • The Alphabetical Listing of Completed War Supply Contracts was published by the War Production Board’s Statistics Division. This title covers completed contracts priced above $50,000 through 1943 for the Army, Navy, Maritime Commission, Treasury, and purchasing missions of foreign governments.
  • The State Listing of Major War Supply Contracts was also published by the War Production Board.  It was a monthly supplement published from 1942-1945, though there is also a retrospective volume that covers the years1940-1942. Obviously it lists contracts by state for each monthly publication.
this is a page features War Supply Contracts with an alphabetical list by company with information on what the contract was for as well as location of the work along with the value of the contract, the award and completion dates as well as a code for who the contract was for
Alphabetical Listing of Major War Supply Contracts, 1943.

The image from today’s post comes from Alphabetical Listing of Major War Supply Contracts (1943).  There are many contracts for machine tools and engine parts manufactured by General Machinery of Hamilton, OH but further down on that page is the beginning of the list of General Motors’ contracts. That list went onto a second page and included guns, hardware, airplane parts, batteries, forgings, trucks, station wagons, etc.

I just wish I had such a great starting point for other older contracts.

Comments (45)

  1. Thanks for the info about WW2 mfg. contracts !

    How can I search the mentioned titles for a specific manufacturer ?


  2. Jerry – If you want to submit a question into Ask a Librarian with the names of the company(s) that you want to check out I can do it for you. If you are in the DC area you are welcome to come to the Library and look at them yourself.

    Here is the link to the business Ask a Librarian form:

  3. Great information;
    How can I find drawings, sizes and specifications for completed military contracts, i.e., tools, tents, foot lockers etc?

  4. Kerry – it is likely that what you are looking on may depend on the time frame of those contracts. If you are looking more current (particularly after WWII) it may be that you won’t find anything or much of anything as paper output (particularly if there are any security issues). Often time specs for an item – for example a locker size – may have been part of the contract itself. The first places is to look at the full details of the contract (what is in those volumes is just summary). It may be that some equipment may have had to produce more detailed output data to go along with what they were required to make.

    Generally, the output of government agencies is sent to the Archives after a period of time. The Archives does have an ask a question form but if you submit a question there it may be helpful to include a time frame.

    Since that is just a quick answer you may want to submit a question directly to us at the Library with more specifics like a time frame and maybe I can provide more insight.

  5. Does the contract number indicate date? Year, etc.?

  6. Frank – the Award data and the completion date are included – they all pretty much look like the page that is included as an image in this post. If you have further questions I would suggest submitting a question to:

  7. I am studying the effects of war contracts’ impact on industry/economy in my area, and have utilized war contracts (although they are hard to find and get loaned to). Is there a way I can get employment data on specific companies, such as how many workers were hired in a given year, month, etc., and even possibly their production output?

  8. Question

    Has anyone tabulated the total sums and percentage of the whole, that went to Iowa and Minnesota,
    or yet N. and D. Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, and OK/ Any information would be appreciated.

  9. I haven’t run across a state-by-state total amounts list but I know people are interested in understanding their state’s contribution to the war effort. After writing this post I have answered several questions where someone wanted the lists related to their state. I also know that people may have looked at in various ways for example “Tennessee in War and Peace:The Impact of World War II on State Economic Trends” by Patricia Brake Howard in the Tennessee Historical Quarterly (Vol. 51, No. 1) and “World War II Manufacturing and the Postwar Southern Economy” by Robert Lewis in the The Journal of Southern History, (Vol. 73, No. 4).

  10. Im looking for specific WWII contracts with civilian company’s for tools such as shovels, axes, and pick axes could you point me in the direction of such information please?


  11. Jake – there is no easy way to do this type of research unless you have company(s). These particular titles are organized alphabetically or by state and they aren’t electronic as a database to search. I know that the 1943 title has been digitized at but searching is a different thing entirely.

    If you want to submit a question that will allow us more time you can do so at:

  12. I’m trying to find copies of military contracts for Dodge trucks btwn 1958-1968, do you know where I can find them?

    Thanks for your time!

  13. Hello and thanks in advance for any help on the following subject: As a member of the LST 325 Memorial Ship Inc. As a Seaman/Fireman first class part of my job is to help maintain the ship and its major systems.
    The ship has a bow winch/capstan made by by Webster-Binkley in Seattle, WA it seems that in the fulfillment of the of their contract they were awarded an M award.
    I am looking any data on the company and any follow along company that may have bought them.
    We need parts drawings for a unit belived to be “g-8130” this unit also has two brake units part #e-8019.
    Any data or links would be helpful.
    Yours In Freedom
    Lester McFarland

  14. I’d like to know to what contract ( date, ref., etc…) matches the
    U.S. Army contract Q.M. 6860.
    Is it post WW2 ? Or during WW2 ?
    Would you have a track to find this contract and its date ?
    Many thanks.

    • Francois – I will have to look to see if I can figure this out but the WWII titles do not have a “by contract” number function/index it is only by contractor. The sources that I know for WWI are not as complete, are a bit more difficult to use, and some give the contract number but don’t list by number (there is a separate post related to those at Unfortunately, tracking contracts before the regularized reporting with really didn’t happen until after WWII is tricky. The National Archives may be more helpful in offering guidance (QM stands for Quartermaster Corps) though they don’t get so specific about contracts until the 1960s.

      I can’t say for certain but it doesn’t look WWII or more recent because the numbers were bigger and don’t seem to follow that convention. Given the simplicity of the number it “feel” older. However, it may not be associated with a war per se, but be a contract from any other time. There is no easy find this

  15. I work at a company here in DC and apparently one of the owners were contacted by someone in the War Department asking if we still had a piece of machinery that was on loan from WW2 the numbers were checked and we did in fact have it, but have never heard from them since. I’m trying to do my due diligence and contact them before the building goes down so they can retrieve there merchandise. could you possibly point me in the right direction of who i could reach out to ??

    • Ms Young – I am not sure of the time frame in terms of when the company was asked about the equipment, but I assume by War Department you mean Department of Defense (the name changed in 1949). I don’t have any easy way to figure out who in the DoD might be asking. There is an Assistant Secretary for Industrial Policy ( which is part of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment ( It could be part of DoD that is in the acquisitions/logistics but given the age of the equipment it could be something like the Historical Office ( Also given the time frame of the original equipment it could be the Army/ Army Corps of Engineers.

      If you have more information you can submit a question via

  16. Hello, This looks like a fantastic resource. Can anyone let me know if there’s a similar set of records for the First World War? I’m looking to see if one company in particular was a WW1 contractor. I’ve checked Official Bulletin newspapers, but have found anything yet. Ideally, there’s a WW1 resource like the WWII resource described in this blog. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you!

    • Ian – I really wish there was a resource like this for WWI, but as yet, I haven’t found one. The Official Bulletin is the only sources I have been able to find for WWI that makes any effort to compile contracts information. One suggestion is to search the news sources of the day. A local paper would possibly make note of a big contract given to a local business. There are a number of databases with newspapers if your local public library doesn’t have access to them you can submit a question at and we can look though the databases we subscribe to.

  17. Where would I find information on an Australian citizen, working for the American Army at a base in Australia? Time is around the end of WWII. What government department would I need to talk to? Thank you in advance.

    • The National Archives is the place for all government records. I would assume it would in DoD records but I am not sure how personnel records for civilians work. They do have a contact form at and they would be able to be more exact and accurate on what can and can’t be found and how.

  18. Hi there,
    I am trying to find details (i.e. a specified paint color) for a WWII contract. Army Contract W2789 tc 993 (23 Mar. 1943) to the CFCP Co. (Chicago Freight Car). Any help would be greatly appreciated.


    • While the contract itself is listed in Alphabetical listing of major war supply contracts, details like paint color are not given. News stories may have it, but again that is a detail that is not important enough to report on. The National Archives may still have some information, but even they may not have whatever document has that information. Here is a link to a digital version of Alphabetical listing of major war supply contracts

  19. I am looking for information on the WWII civilian contractor for Chaguaramas base in Trinidad.

  20. I’m looking for examples of “1 page contracts” i have heard about that were used to kick start wartime production and construction. any example will do for a paper i would like to write on its application for modern construction law. thank you.

    • The Library doesn’t have government contracts themselves. The National Archives is the agency that would be the best place to start for this type of thing.

  21. This is a response to the question regarding specific color of paint applied to a vehicle during WWII. The War Department published color charts that established the color and shade of colors to be used however, the large number of different contractors and materials manufactured that tint of these colors varied. For the specific type and color of materials to applied to a specific equipment the best place to start is the written specification for the equipment that included all kinds of details of construction and materials. It would also be useful to locate the contract as it would specify the specification to be used in production of the equipment and any changes or modifications not provided in the specifications. Both specifications and contracts may be researched at the National Archives.

  22. On behalf of the Ramey Air Force Base Historical Association I am looking for the details of the contract awarded to McCloskey and Company, owned by Matthew McCloskey of Philadelphia, PA for construction at Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico. The Army contract number is W-1099, Eng. 270, dated 12-26-1940 and terminated 9-30-1942. Apparently this is a multi million dollar contract for construction of runways, buildings and utilities. This information is requested in as much detail as is available for our museum archives and ongoing educational program. Thank you.

    • The sources we have are limited – the National Archives would be more likely to have more. I believe some contract information will not have survived but the building of a new base is something that is likely going to be more well documented. I suggest that you contact them for guidance on what might be available.

      I will respond directly to you via email with a more detailed answer.

  23. I am looking for information on a shipment of firearms sent on January 1943 from Colt MFG to a Mr. H.L. Hershey, c\o The New York & Porto Rico Steamship Co. Pier 34 North River New York, New York. They were marked for BUR.S.P.T San Juan. In particular I would like to know what the acronym BUR.S.P.T. is.

    Thank You

    • Ray, what the Library has won’t get to level of detail about a particular shipment – that is more likely at the National Archives. However, I might be able to find out what BUR.S.P.T. stands for but I will have to get back to you regarding that.

      I do know that there was a base on Puerto Rico during the war by the name of Borinquen Field and later known as Ramey Air Force Base – scouted by Major George C. Kenney of the United States Army Air Corps. It was located at Punta Borinquen and there were several squadrons based there including the 16th Bombardmen.

  24. Do you have to be a male to get a contract ?

    • I have never heard of anything to indicate that contracts were chosen by gender.

  25. Looking for contracts for medal makers during WWII and earlier.

    • None of the sets mentioned in these titles will make searching for this particular product/service easy; and they only cover World War II. All of the titles list by company name. You would have to go entry by entry and create the list. I know of no other source for contracts that is complete, covers the time period, and lists by industry. Actually, finding any contracts prior to World War II can be a bit difficult in any case. The Bulletin (see our guide about federal government contracting) is an option and there is a rough grouping but you would have to go issue by issue – these are what are in the reading room.
      Bulletin. (no 1-50; 11/7/1936-10/16/1937)
      Bulletin. (no 51-100; 10/23/1931-10/1/1938)
      Bulletin. (no 101-150; 10/15/1938-9/23/1939)
      Bulletin. (no 151-175; 9/30/1939-3/16/1940)
      Bulletin. (no 176-200; 3/23/1940-9/7/1940)
      Bulletin. (no 201-230; 9/14/1940-4/5/1941)
      Bulletin. (no 231-265; 4/12/1941-12/6/1941)

      If yo need before that the source is still the Bulletin but I know of its coverage for World War I – we have written a blog post about that title “Supplying the Great War” – and it not as consistent and is A-Z by company when it is reported.

  26. I’m looking for information regarding two 1942 contracts with the Inspector of Naval Material Bureau of Ships. It’s for a product made for ships by a Wisconsin company. I have the contract numbers and N.A.F Specifications number however I haven’t been able to find a resource at the LOC or National Archives. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

    • The titles we have mentioned in this post may not be optimal for this. They list A-Z by company name and provide limited information on set is available via HathiTrust. My understanding is that the National Archives may not have the contracts themselves but I would contact them (it definitely won’t be digitized). I don’t know if helps but patents may provide insight not on the contract of course, but on the thing itself.

  27. Would the resources listed previously in this thread indicate contract type (i.e., if the contracts are fixed price or cost reimbursement) or would that be a question better asked of the National Archives? For instance, if I wanted to know what type of contract the War Department used for the purchase of Higgins Boats, would the data sources above list the type of contract? Thank you.

    • James – those titles are quite limited in the information they provide – any more detailed information you would be looking at government or company records (a lot of those are at the University of New Orleans).

      The Higgins Boats are a topic that has been studied and written so something like that you would be more likely to find out the type of contract more easily than you would for many other things as I am not sure the National Archives has kept all the contracts for WWII. You might find that the National World War II Museum in New Orleans may be helpful as well. For naval history the Naval History and Heritage Command and for Army history the US Army Center of Military History may be helpful when looking at each branches contracts.

  28. I am looking for some information on the numbers of old government contracts from the 1950s and 1960s. I am trying to figure out the sequences of the numbers and if they mean something. I know that now the sequence of the numbers has a meaning that indicate something with the PII. I have not been able to find any sort of guide or key for the organization/sequence of old government contracts. Any help would be GREATLY appreciated! Thank you!

    • Maggie – I had not across anything that got into the discussion but I wasn’t looking specifically for that so it may take me some times to get back to you about this.

  29. I have a plaque from a WW2 aircraft carrier, and would like to obtain information for Navy contract NOD-1490, this piece of equipment was made in 1942. Would like any information I could obtain I would appreciate. I plan to return the item to the museum.

    • To use the sources we have I would need the name associated with that contract. We have no sources that allow me to go by number. However, I got luck. On p 576 in the Federal Register of February 4, 1941, I saw in the Navy contracts and that did give a company name:
      (13) Contract NOd-1490, with the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, dated September 9,1940, for the construction of one (1) aircraft carrier at Newport News, Virginia, a contract price of $42,725,000.00.

      Once I had the name I could look it up in the list and could see that the contract was for aircraft carriers CV was awarded by the Navy September 1940 and completed November 1943. This is the only information to be found using those sources. However, newspapers of the day – particularly those covering the area may say more. If you need more detailed information you can submit an Ask a Librarian.

  30. Hello, do you know where I can find a listing for minor war supply contract ? i’m after the record for contract value under 50k dollars.

    I’m also after contract details for the Dodge Trucks division during ww2. ( The exact content of the contracts)

    • Mike – I haven’t (yet) found a good resources for more minor contracts (or subcontracts) for WWII. The sets on this page are above $25,000 however. They still don’t include subcontracts.
      As for more more details on a specific contracts, newspaper articles may be a helpful though they won’t often refer to a specific contract in a way that you an connect something in the papers to the contract you are looking to know more about. The national Archives keeps the records for the federal government, but I am unclear if they have kept all of the material for all of the WWII era contracts (I have seen indications that they have not).

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