Broken Records Bought During WWII?

Get in step. Join the Record Parade. Bring your old records back to your dealer now.

Back during WWII, it was difficult for the record manufacturers to obtain shellac to press new recordings. This started a campaign for people to bring in the old records, even broken, to be re-melted and re-recorded.

It was important for the morale “of our boys” to be able to hear new recordings. This was the way the papers, back in 1942, were selling this idea to the masses. The general belief, shared by both the recording industry and the audience,

was that entertainment was fleeting and didn’t need to be protected or preserved. Popular music was perceived to have no lasting value, and the recording companies never viewed it as important to save and archive sound recordings, master recordings, and alternate takes.

To most of the recording industry, warehousing yesterday’s popular records and the masters needed to press them was just one huge, expensive headache. World War II scrap drives were the perfect answer to the industry’s storage problems. Suddenly, emptying the archive turned into a patriotic duty.

Commercial 78rpm recordings were made of shellac, and during the war record companies’ supply of shellac was severely restricted. Although older recordings were seen as having no worthwhile historic value, the value of new records to the morale of both service and civilian populations was well documented. In June of 1942, a non-profit patriotic organization named Records for Our Fighting Men, Inc. was formed to make record salvage a war effort operation.

Kay Kyser, Kate Smith, and Gene Autry were initially named president and vice-presidents and many other performers and radio stars such as Benny Goodman, Harry James, Marian Anderson, and Fritz Reiner signed on to be sponsors and join the efforts. In the May 22, 1943 issue of Billboard Magazine, Records for Our Fighting Men announced its second scrap drive. The announcement hoped for greater success than the first drive when only 4 million pounds were collected, resulting in 300,000 newly purchased records distributed for servicemen.


The Boston Daily Globe – Friday, June 5, 1942
The Bristol News Bulletin – Monday, July 20, 1942
The Park City Record – September 24, 1942
The Constitution, Atlanta, GA, Sunday, December 6, 1942
Library of Congress

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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