World War II transformed the United States. There were profound economic, political, and social changes on the American home front. World War II brought the United States out of the Great Depression. Unprecedented job growth was driven by the expansion in defense industries and the United States became what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called the “arsenal of democracy.” Americans responded to the call for military service and to support the war effort on the home front. People moved to different parts of the country, entered new jobs, bought war bonds, and rationed essential materials. Although there was no single Americans experience during the war, one of the defining aspects of World War II is that nearly all Americans were touched by the war. Through military service, having a family member in the military, working in the defense industries, buying war bonds, or even something as simple as rationing butter or sugar, nearly all Americans were personally affected by World War II. “Rosie the Riveter,” though an enduring icon and a representation of women entering previously all-male industrial jobs, does not capture the full complexity of the American home front. These interviews, along with hundreds of others, begin to document how people experienced and remember the American home front during World War II.

This website marks a culmination of a senior seminar on oral history (HIST 471D3). Students in this course studied oral history methodology and the history of the United States during World War II. After receiving training in oral history interviewing, students interviewed people about the World War II home front.

Professor Jess Rigelhaupt and the students in the course would like to thank all of the narrators for their contributions to this project. Their recollections are invaluable resources.

Professor Jess Rigelhaupt and the students would like to thank Jim Groom (http://jimgroom.net/ and @jimgroom), Andy Rush (http://www.andyrush.net/ and @rushaw), and everyone at UMW’s Division for Teaching and Learning (DTLT) for their assistance with the website. Jim’s class visits and technical help have provided important insights on publishing oral history on the world wide web.

For questions or comments about this website or the oral history project, please contact Jess Rigelhaupt, jmr (at) umw.edu.