A Dollar a Year

Appointment certificate and $1.00 check for H.W. Davis for the WWII War Production Board. Many of these checks were kept as souvenirs and framed. The paper backing on the frame reacted with the ink of the check and changed the color from green to brown.

During World War I and World War II, thousands of business and industry executives went to work for the US government serving on various boards or as advisors. They were known as dollar-a-year men due to their salary which was literally $1.00 per year.

Check for $.13 to Ralph Henn for six weeks work with the War Industries Board. Henn left this position in December 1917 to accept a commission in the US Army to work in the procurement office of the War Department.
Workers for the War Industries Board received a bonus of $1.00 in 1919. This check bears the signatures of President Woodrow Wilson; Bernard Baruch, chairman of the WIB; and E.K. Ellsworth, the disbursing clerk.

Bernard Baruch is credited with being the first dollar-a-year man. Baruch was a Wall Street financier who agreed to serve to become an advisor to President Wilson. He served on the National Council of Defense and the War Industries Board in WWI.

Cover letter and check in the amount of $.57 to Walter F. Hedden for his work with the War Production Board. Hedden was an executive with the New York Port Authority and advised the board on transportation matters.

During WWII most dollar-a-year men were affiliated with the War Production Board. The WPB was chaired by Donald M. Nelson. It coordinated the allocation of resources for the war effort in the United States.

James Francis Peele kept his $.07 check for service to the War Production Board in 1943.

The token payment was made by US government check. Those who did not serve a full year received a pro-rated payment. The nominal amounts of the checks meant that many went uncashed and were held as souvenirs.

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