Scope and Content
This exhibit and learning resource consists of the equivalent of over 400 printed pages of narrative text augmented by hundreds of images and thousands of pages of original documents describing Oregon before, during, and after World War II. It looks at the lives of ordinary Oregonians and how they responded to the challenges of world war.
A bird's eye view
To provide context, the exhibit reviews Oregon life and the larger world of politics and power before the war. It traces how Japanese Americans came to be seen as a threat and how they were treated in internment camps. Then, it examines the extraordinary measures, such as blackouts and incident drills, designed to protect the state from attack. The exhibit also explores rationing, victory gardens, and other steps aimed at maximizing resources in the war effort. Meanwhile, Home front life is the focus of one section that covers topics such as rumor control, prostitution, and juvenile delinquency. Returning veterans, the GI Bill, and the advent of the Cold War are a few of the exhibit subjects describing life after the war. Finally, researchers can learn more with additional resources and Web links.
The main goals for this exhibit are to educate and entertain. The exhibit also uses original records to highlight some of the research opportunities at the Oregon State Archives. Whenever possible, it directly quotes from the letters, reports, and other documents created by people who actively participated in the historical events. Their actions reveal the full range of human experience -- from selfless to petty and from heroic to criminal. Their stories are at the heart of life on the home front and come from every corner of Oregon.
While designed for a general audience, this exhibit includes extensive resources for students. Middle school students and older will find useful information. See the "learn more" section for additional resources.
Please note that some of the subject matter and images deal with violent situations. Also, some text and images of the era portray certain groups, such as German, Italian, and Japanese leaders, in a negative light. These portrayals are accurate historical reflections of the times and are therefore left intact.
This exhibit uses mostly primary records. These consist of original documents, publications, and other items created during the years surrounding World War II. The main focus is on the records of the Oregon State Defense Council, but many other record groups are used as well. These are documented in the "learn more" section. The primary sources are augmented by secondary sources such as books and periodicals. Relevant sources are cited in notes at the bottom of chapter pages.
Images and media
Please note that images in this exhibit have been edited for display purposes. This may include cropping, coloration, and other manipulations of the original images. Most of the images in this exhibit are from the records of the Oregon State Defense Council. These are supplemented by images from other Oregon State Archives record groups as well as outside sources. All images with citations that include "OSA" are available at the Oregon State Archives. Images lacking any citation are commonly available on the Web. The exhibit also includes numerous Portable Document Format (PDF) resources using Adobe Reader software and audio and video clips using Real Player software. This software is available for free download:
Some of these documents and audio clips may be slow to load depending on file size.
We welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions. Please contact us.