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World War II Images

World War II

September 2, 2020, marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. Official records report that 226,638 men and women from Iowa served in the armed forces. The United States entered the war on December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese had attacked U.S. military and naval bases at Pearl Harbor. As men enlisted or were drafted into the war, for the first time ever, American women could also serve on active duty. Iowa women could serve in the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPS), Women's Army Auxiliary Corp (WAAC) and the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). And the major training center for the WAAC was at Fort Des Moines.

Iowa's support of the war effort was largely focused on food production. In 1940, there were 212,318 farms in Iowa with a production value of $561,836,688. In 1945, there were 208,934 farms in Iowa, with a production value of $1,232,010,705. Many factories in Iowa, such as Solar Aircraft and John Deere, were also converted to produce war materials. The state also housed a few prisoner-of-war camps for Germans and Italians in Clarinda, Algona and Eldora. One of the most famous Iowa stories from war was the deaths of the five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo. The five brothers enlisted on the condition that they could serve together, a request which was approved by the Navy. But when their ship was torpedoed, all five were killed. In total, 8,398 Iowans died in the armed forces during World War II.

Expedition Activities
   + Goldie at Home Activity: Propaganda Posters
   + World War II Propaganda Posters from the State Historical Society of Iowa
   + Video: Iowan's Account of the Attack on Pearl Harbor
   + Video: An Iowa Veteran's Experience in the Women's Army Corps
   + Video: An Iowan Joins the Tuskegee Airmen
   + Iowa Stories: Iowa's Remarkable Role in World War II
   + Iowa History 101 Series
   + Meskwaki Code Talkers
   + World War II Press Clippings
   + World War II Army Casualties: Iowa
   + Library of Congress Magazine: Voices of War
   + The Goldfinch: War! Can the U.S. Remain Neutral?

World War II postersWWII Propaganda Posters from the State Historical Society of Iowa

To sustain support of the war effort, the U.S. government launched a propaganda campaign to galvanize public support. Artists were put to work to create posters that would rally support from home. View WWII propaganda posters from the State Historical Society of Iowa's collections. 

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Register for the Iowa History 101 Series

You can view the Iowa History 101 webinar about how Iowans served during World War II, at home and abroad, and how the war impacted Iowa online. 

Goldie reading a book at home

Goldie at Home Activity

This Goldie at Home activity allows you to investigate a historic World War II propaganda poster from the museum collection and then create your own poster to support a cause you care about. Goldie at Home activities connect Iowa history with STEAM education. 

Meskwaki Code TalkersMeskwaki Code Talkers

Many American Indians served in the war, including some who were called upon for their language skills. Their spoken native languages were indecipherable to the enemy and were invaluable to the war effort. This included members of the Meskwaki Tribe in Tama County, Iowa. These code talkers would broadcast information by short-wave radio to their fellow Meskwaki soldiers who would translate it into English for the commanding officer. 
     + Meskwaki Code Talkers News Clipping     
     + World War II: Meskwaki Code Talkers

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Watch Videos

Listen to first-hand accounts in these Iowa PBS videos that share Iowa veterans' experiences during World War II. 
     + Iowan's Account of the Attack on Pearl Harbor     
     + An Iowa Veteran's Experience in the Women's Army Corps     
     + An Iowan Joins the Tuskegee Airmen

Preserving artistic and cultural items from destruction of war and theft Listen to Iowa Stories

During World War II, a military unit called "Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section," was led by Iowan George L. Stout. This unit of American and British men and women - museum curators, art historians, librarians - worked to preserve important artistic and cultural items from destruction of war and theft by the Nazis. Watch Iowa's Remarkable Role in World War II, a lecture from the Iowa Stories lecture series, about Stout's work.

Books on yellow backgroundCheck out these resources to learn more about Americans' experiences during World War II, as well as view Iowa press clippings from the time period.  
     + The Goldfinch: War! Can the U.S. Remain Neutral? (April 1983)
     + Library of Congress Magazine: Voices of War     
     + World War II Press Clippings     
     + World War II Army Casualties: Iowa