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World War II

Archives Search Strategies

The best way to identify World War II collections is to consult A Guide to the Good War: Resources on World War II in the Archives of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. This guide, published in 1994, was an attempt to provide a comprehensive guide to relevant Historical Society holdings available at the time of the 50th anniversary of World War II.

A Guide to the Good War is incomplete because it does not include material acquired since the date of publication. Consult ArCat to identify additional collections relevant to your research. Those unfamiliar with ArCat will want to review instructions included on the ArCat home page.

Most ArCat searches should begin by entering the name or term which best describes your topic, but do not be discouraged and do not stop if this approach is unsuccessful. Instead, try some of the search terms and strategies show below.

The appropriate search term for World War II collections is World War 1939-1945 , but entering only that phrase yields a very large result. More refined searches should combine that basic term with a more specific term. For example, combining World War 1939-1945 with personal narratives yields collections of soldier letters , diaries , and reminiscences

Similarly combining the terms World War 1939-1945 and war work identifies collections related to groups and activities designed to promote the war effort.

Using that same format, additional strengths in the holdings can be identified by adding any of the following subjects to the basic search term: aerial operation, censorship, journalists, prisoners and prisons, public opinion , and women. For instructions on combining research terms in a "guided search," take a moment to review instructions available on the ArCat home page.

Some topics related to World War II are best approached directly, by entering a subject term or organizational or personal name associated with the event or movement in which you are interested. For example, searching the term holocaust will identify collections related to that event; and combining the terms Japanese Americans and relocation will identify collections on the treatment of Japanese Americans during the war.

How to Access Archives Resources

Visit Reference Services to learn about various ways to access Archives collections and services.


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