Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Blueprint Rations

During World War II, the Southern Blue Print Company, operating at 710 Gravier Street in New Orleans, issued a missive to its customers, requesting that they "PLEASE READ CAREFULLY."  The letter outlined the difficulties the company faced in obtaining engineering supplies, drawing materials, and drafting room equipment, and the necessity for obtaining Priority Ratings on all orders:

"A majority of our customers are presently engaged in doing Defense work and they should have no trouble in obtaining Preference Rating and/or Preference Rating Certificates, which ratings should be extended to us in order that we can replenish our stock from our suppliers.  In the case of many items listed in our catalogs, these cannot be supplied except where very high Ratings are extended to us.  In all cases, therefore, we should be furnished with as high a Priority Rating as it is possible for the customer to obtain."

For those customers unable to obtain Priority Ratings, Southern Blue Print Company advised:

"Those of our customers who are not in a position to extend Priority Ratings to us may in the near future be unable to obtain drafting materials for the conduct of their business, however, we feel assured that we will always be in a position to offer some sort of substitute and we will do everything possible to see that these customers are taken care of to the best of our ability.  We wish, however, to impress on all concerned that Defense Plants, vital Government Agencies and essential industries must be supplied first as they form a vital link in our National Defense, and they, first of all, are entitled to materials with which to work.  All users of Blue Prints, Photostat Prints, etc., doing Defense work, should naturally be in a position to furnish us with Priority Ratings and we therefore expect that in all cases where ratings are obtainable, that such ratings are extended to us."

The letter concluded:

"These are trying times for everyone, and we ask your earnest co-operation along the lines requested above.  If you will do your part we assure you of our best efforts in your behalf."

This was not the first time architects had been called upon to cooperate with American war efforts.  During World War I, the Red Cross solicited architect and engineers to surrender their linen tracings for use as bandages.

Southern Blue Print Co., letter "To Our Customers," undated, Guy Seghers Office Records, "Southern Blue Print Co., 710 Gravier Street, 2nd Floor, New Orleans," Southeastern Architectural Archive, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Libraries.

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