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A Guide to World War II Materials

Compiled by Mark F. Hall, Digital Reference Specialist

Pearl Harbor naval base aflame after the Japanese attack
Pearl Harbor naval base aflame after the Japanese attack
1 photographic print : gelatin silver.
Prints and Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number:

World War II (1939-1945) was the largest international event of the twentieth century and one of the major turning points in U.S. and world history. In the six years between the invasion of Poland and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the world was caught up in the most destructive war in history. Armed forces of more than seventeen million fought on the land, in the air, and on the sea. The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide and diverse selection of materials relating to this period.

This guide gathers in one place links to World War II related resources throughout the Library of Congress Web site.

Library of Congress Web Sites | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography

Library of Congress Web Sites

American Memory Historical Collections

After the Day of Infamy: "Man-on-the-Street" Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor

This collection contains approximately twelve hours of opinions recorded in the days and months following the bombing of Pearl Harbor from interviews with more than two hundred individuals in cities and towns across the United States.

America from the Great Depression to World War II: Photographs from the FSA and OWI, ca. 1935-1945

The images in the Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information Collection are among the most famous documentary photographs ever produced. Created by a group of U.S. government photographers, the images show Americans in every part of the nation. In its early years, the project emphasized rural life and the negative impact of the Great Depression, farm mechanization, and the Dust Bowl. In later years, the photographers turned their attention to the mobilization effort for World War II.

Map Collections: 1500-2004

Contains a series of maps of the Battle of the Bulge.

"Suffering under a Great Injustice": Ansel Adams’s Photographs of Japanese-American Internment at Manzanar

In 1943, Ansel Adams (1902-1984), one of America's best-known photographers, documented the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California and the Japanese Americans interned there during World War II.

American Folklife Center

Finding Aid for World War II Collections in the Archive of Folk Culture

The Archive of Folk Culture mainly consists of the collections of the American Folklife Center. Today the Archive includes over three million photographs, manuscripts, audio recordings, and moving images, consisting of documentation of traditional culture from all around the world. It is America's first national archive of traditional life, and one of the oldest and largest of such repositories in the world.


American Treasures of the Library of Congress - World War II

This online exhibition contains notable examples of World War II eramaterials from different areas of the Library, including photographs, posters, newspapers, and original documents.

Dresden: Treasures from the Saxon State Library

This exhibition includes photographs of twentieth century Dresden, including View from the Georgen Gate showing the ruins of the Frauenkirche and surrounding buildings, summer 1947 and View of Dresden's Neumarkt and the Frauenkirche, August 1949.

Herblock's History: Political Cartoons from the Crash to the Millennium

This exhibit includes a number of editorial cartoons from the World War II era by Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Herbert L. Block (1909-2001).

John Bull and Uncle Sam: Four Centuries of British-American Relations

The section of this exhibition titled "From Enemy to Ally" contains a variety of World War II materials, including examples of sheet music, photographs, and speeches.

Women Come to the Front: Journalists, Photographers, and Broadcasters During WWII

This exhibition spotlights eight women who succeeded in "coming to the front" during the war--Therese Bonney, Toni Frissell, Marvin Breckinridge Patterson, Clare Boothe Luce, Janet Flanner, Esther Bubley, Dorothea Lange, and May Craig. Their stories--drawn from private papers and photographs primarily in Library of Congress collections--open a window on a generation of women who changed American society forever by securing a place for themselves in the workplace, in the newsroom, and on the battlefield.

Journeys and Crossings

Anne Hoog on Pearl Harbor Oral Histories

Ann Hoog ( Folklife Specialist, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress) discusses After the Day of Infamy: 'Man-on-the-Street' Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor.

Sheridan Harvey on Rosie the Riveter

Sheridan Harvey (Women's Studies Specialist, Humanities and Social Sciences Division, Library of Congress) explores the evolution of "Rosie the Riveter"and discusses the lives of real women workers in World War II.

Prints and Photographs Division Guides

Ansel Adams' Manzanar War Relocation Center Photographs

The same images as presented on the Library of Congress American Memory site. This site contains background information, and a few selected images are included here as a quick sample of the collection.

Farm Security Administation/Office of War Information Collection

The photographs of the Farm Security Administration (FSA)-Office of War Information (OWI), transferred to the Library of Congress in 1944, form an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1943. As the scope of the project expanded, the photographers turned to recording rural and urban conditions throughout the United States and mobilization efforts for World War II.

Rosie Pictures: Select Images Relating to American Women Workers During World War II

The Prints & Photographs Division holds hundreds of images relating to American women workers in World War II. These selected images were issued by the U.S. government or by commercial sources during World War II, often to encourage women to join the work force or to highlight other aspects of the war effort.

Today in History

February 4

The United Service Organizations, popularly known as the USO, was chartered on February 4, 1941, in order to provide recreation for on-leave members of the U.S. armed forces and their families.

June 6

D-Day: Operation Overlord, The Allies invaded Normandy on June 6, 1944.

June 13

On June 13, 1942, seven months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Office of War Information (OWI) was created. An important U.S. government propaganda agency during World War II, the OWI supported American mobilization for the war effort by recording the nation's activities.

June 21

On June 21, 1945, Japanese troops surrendered the Pacific Island of Okinawa to the United States after one of the longest and bloodiest battles of World War II.

August 13

On August 13, 1942, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin drafted a memorandum to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American President Franklin Roosevelt opposing their decision not to invade Western Europe at that time.

September 29

In 1942, John F. Kennedy entered the United States Navy to join American forces fighting in World War II. Prior to his departure, playwright Clare Boothe Luce, a close friend of the Kennedy family, sent the young naval officer a good luck coin that once belonged to her mother. On September 29, 1942, Kennedy wrote to Luce thanking her for sharing such an important token with him.

October 23

The Senate passed the $5.98 billion supplemental Lend-Lease Bill on October 23, 1941, bringing the United States one step closer to direct involvement in World War II.

October 24

The United Nations was established by charter on October 24, 1945. Initially, the United Nations included only the twenty-six countries that had signed the 1942 Declaration by United Nations, a statement of war against the Axis powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan) in World War II.

November 26

Rick's Place: World War II military code for the city of Casablanca. The film Casablanca premiered in New York City on November 26, 1942, as Allied Expeditionary Forces (AEF) secured their hold on North Africa during World War II.

December 2

At 3:25 P.M. on December 2, 1942, the Atomic Age began inside an enormous tent on a squash court under the stands of the University of Chicago's Stagg Field.

December 7

On December 7, 1941, Japanese planes attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory killing more than 2,300 Americans.

Veterans History Project

Veterans History Project home page

Provides information about this oral history project, as will as links to information about how to participate, a database of participating veterans, and digitized materials from the collection.

Veterans History Project Guide to other oral history sites (predominantly WWII) and bibliography.

Link disclaimerExternal Web Sites

National World War II Museum

Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as the country's official World War II Museum, this remarkable attraction illuminates the American experience during the WWII era with moving personal stories, historic artifacts and powerful interactive displays.

Powers of Persuasion: Poster Art from World War II

Collection of 33 posters the U.S. government used to mobilize public opinion during World War II. Provided by the National Archives and Records Administration.

Rutgers Oral History Archives of World War II

Transcripts of interviews with more than 200 people who were young adults during World War II.

Women and the Homefront During World War II

Teacher Tracey Oz presents an extensive set of links on women's roles in World War II.

World War II: Documents

Primary source documents on World War II. Maintained by the Avalon Project at Yale University.

World War II Poster Collection

More than 300 posters issued by government agencies during the war years. From Northwestern University Library.

Selected Bibliography

Churchill, Winston. The Second World War. 6 vols. London: Cassell, 1948-1954. [Catalog Record]

Keegan, John. The Second World War. New York: Viking, 1990. [Catalog Record]

Gilbert, Martin. The Second World War : A Complete History. New York: H. Holt, c1989. [Catalog Record]

World War II: A Selected List of References (research guide)

A lengthy annotated bibliography from 1992, compiled by Jon Simon, Congressional Research Service and Albert E. Smith, Jr., Humanities and Social Sciences Division.

Younger Readers

Ambrose, Stephen. The Good Fight: How World War II Was Won. New York: Atheneum, 2001. [Catalog Record]

O'Neill, William L. World War II: A Student Companion. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. [Catalog Record]


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  July 17, 2012
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