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The World War II Military and Home Fronts

The outbreak of the Second World War ushered in a period of great prosperity and unity in Wisconsin. The depression years receded into the background as defense spending and military preparedness resulted in defense contracts for Wisconsin businesses. Rather than the dismal unemployment that had plagued the 1930s, labor was in high demand and wages and prices rose accordingly.

Both industry and agriculture shared in this prosperity. Wisconsin citizens quickly shifted to wartime production, becoming more dependent on orders from the military than ever before. Manitowoc, Sturgeon Bay, and Superior turned out submarines and other ships, once again becoming centers... more...

Original Documents and Other Primary Sources

Link to article: A Milwaukee officer describes the attack on Pearl Harbor  A Milwaukee officer describes the attack on Pearl Harbor
Link to article: Citizens learn how to support the war through rationing, 1942  Citizens learn how to support the war through rationing, 1942
Link to article: Women workers at Allis-Chalmers during World War Two  Women workers at Allis-Chalmers during World War Two
Link to article: War changes education for women, 1943  War changes education for women, 1943
Link to article: Suggestions for neighborhood block leaders, 1943  Suggestions for neighborhood block leaders, 1943
Link to article: Wisconsin develops solutions to wartime shortages  Wisconsin develops solutions to wartime shortages
Link to artifacts: Auschwitz Concentration Camp Sweater  Auschwitz Concentration Camp Sweater
Link to book: Wisconsin Holocaust survivors recall their experiences  Wisconsin Holocaust survivors recall their experiences
Link to book: World War II veterans recall their experiences at home and abroad  World War II veterans recall their experiences at home and abroad
Link to book: Citizens are reminded to write letters to soldiers, 1944  Citizens are reminded to write letters to soldiers, 1944
Link to book: A Navy sailor recalls Pearl Harbor  A Navy sailor recalls Pearl Harbor
Link to book: Allis-Chalmers advises women workers on health and safety, 1942  Allis-Chalmers advises women workers on health and safety, 1942
Link to book: Supporting the war by conserving office supplies, 1942  Supporting the war by conserving office supplies, 1942
Link to book: The dead and missing from Wisconsin in June of 1946  The dead and missing from Wisconsin in June of 1946
Link to book: A 1944 cookbook featuring dairy products  A 1944 cookbook featuring dairy products
Link to book: A manual for air raid wardens, 1942  A manual for air raid wardens, 1942
Link to collections: Interviews with Holocaust survivors who came to Wisconsin  Interviews with Holocaust survivors who came to Wisconsin
Link to images: The Attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941  The Attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941
Link to images: Women metal fabricators in Fort Atkinson  Women metal fabricators in Fort Atkinson
Link to images: Photographs from World War Two by Dickey Chapelle  Photographs from World War Two by Dickey Chapelle
Link to manuscript: An Ashland soldier writes home at the end of World War Two  An Ashland soldier writes home at the end of World War Two
Link to manuscript: A Middleton nurse writes home from her hospital in India during World War Two.  A Middleton nurse writes home from her hospital in India during World War Two.
Link to manuscript: An airman from northern Wisconsin describes his experiences during World War Two.  An airman from northern Wisconsin describes his experiences during World War Two.
Link to manuscript: An Oshkosh aviator describes being shot down over Italy and life in a German prisoner of war camp.  An Oshkosh aviator describes being shot down over Italy and life in a German prisoner of war camp.
Link to manuscript: A military police officer from Polk Co. writes home about the war in the Pacific.  A military police officer from Polk Co. writes home about the war in the Pacific.
Link to manuscript: A sailor describes life aboard ship during World War Two.  A sailor describes life aboard ship during World War Two.
Link to manuscript: An Oshkosh woman's diary of living in occupied Florence, Italy, in 1943-1944.  An Oshkosh woman's diary of living in occupied Florence, Italy, in 1943-1944.
Link to manuscript: A Wisconsin paratrooper describes his service in Europe during World War Two.  A Wisconsin paratrooper describes his service in Europe during World War Two.
Link to manuscript: A Wisconsin infantryman describes his service in Europe during World War Two.  A Wisconsin infantryman describes his service in Europe during World War Two.
Link to manuscript: A Wisconsin army lieutenant describes being wounded by German shrapnel during World War Two.  A Wisconsin army lieutenant describes being wounded by German shrapnel during World War Two.
Link to manuscript: A Wisconsin infantry soldier describes life in German prison camps during World War Two.  A Wisconsin infantry soldier describes life in German prison camps during World War Two.
Link to manuscript: A Milwaukee colonel writes home from Europe, 1943-45  A Milwaukee colonel writes home from Europe, 1943-45
Link to manuscript: A Wisconsin soldier sends home a valentine.  A Wisconsin soldier sends home a valentine.
Link to manuscript: A Wisconsin aviator describes missions in Asia.  A Wisconsin aviator describes missions in Asia.
Link to manuscript: How a tablespoon of fat can save soldiers' lives  How a tablespoon of fat can save soldiers' lives
Link to manuscript: A Janesville nurse in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, 1942-1945  A Janesville nurse in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, 1942-1945
Link to manuscript: A Wisconsin sailor recounts the attack on his ship at Pearl Harbor  A Wisconsin sailor recounts the attack on his ship at Pearl Harbor
Link to manuscript: A Beloit sailor describes the attack on Pearl Harbor  A Beloit sailor describes the attack on Pearl Harbor
Link to places: The USS Cobia  The USS Cobia

Primary Sources Available Elsewhere

Link to article: Interviews with Madison residents after the attack on Pearl Harbor  Interviews with Madison residents after the attack on Pearl Harbor
Link to book: Wisconsin Blue Books  Wisconsin Blue Books
Link to book: A Holocaust survivor who settled in Wisconsin tells his story in 1963.  A Holocaust survivor who settled in Wisconsin tells his story in 1963.
Link to collections: Exhibit of correspondence of John and Priscilla Holloway at Marquette University  Exhibit of correspondence of John and Priscilla Holloway at Marquette University
Link to collections: Online exhibit from the Wis. Veterans Museum  Online exhibit from the Wis. Veterans Museum
Link to collections: Stories by and about students' wartime efforts  Stories by and about students' wartime efforts
Link to collections: Stories and images from the Manitowoc homefront, 1939-1947  Stories and images from the Manitowoc homefront, 1939-1947
Link to images: Photographs of life on the USS Wisconsin  Photographs of life on the USS Wisconsin

Related Links

Discover classroom resources available from our Office of School Services
Search our catalogs for materials on this topic that aren't yet available online.
Borrow books about this topic through our interlibrary loan service
Borrow manuscripts about this topic through our Area Research Center network.
Visit the Wisconsin Veterans Museum
Learn about other topics from our new book, Wisconsin History Highlights
Search for memorials of Wisconsin veterans
Read more about women's experiences in our book, Women's Wisconsin

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