Museum Minute: Essential Winchester Jobs During World War I

Jun 11, 2019

During World War I, some Winchester Repeating Arms Company employees were eventually exempt from the draft because their skills were essential to the war effort.

Samantha Harper, the archivist at the McCracken Research Library, said this is known because there are letters that the Winchester Repeating Arms Company sent to the War Department.

“There were a couple of gentlemen that worked for Winchester that actually designed weapons or ran machinery that were so difficult to run that they were deemed as being essential to the factory operation,” said Harper. 

She said there were a couple of instances of these men getting drafted and going through basic training. All the while, Winchester was trying to get these men back to work by writing to the Department of War. 

“Just this one guy being gone delayed the design and final product of a prototype of a weapon by over a week,” said Harper.

Harper said it makes you wonder what other jobs were essential during the war.