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Maryland History Day 2021: World War Two

WW2 Letters

This transcription consists of letters from Harry B. Young, a United States Marine during World War II, to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Earl Young in Pleasantville, Iowa between 1942 and 1945. One of the letters was written by Arlene Teter, Harry's future wife, to Harry's parents. Harry Young wrote of his military training in communication at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, his duties and leave, and family matters. His letters also came from Chicago, Illinois, Camp Elliott, San Diego and San Francisco, California and Guam. Included in the letters are Young's promotion to Corporal and Sergeant.
For more information, visit the Finding Aid.

The Walter Gustafson Letters document Walter Gustafson's trip from England to Cairo, Egypt before journeying on to Iran in 1943 and 1944. Much of Gustafson's letters are self-censored, although he did get the opportunity to visit the Pyramids and had his picture taken on the banks of the Tigris River. 

Finding Aid

This transcription consists of letters from Jeanne Severance, a Red Cross volunteer, to Martha and Constance Greene. Severance worked with the Red Cross in France, India, China, Myanmar, and Mexico from 1945-1946, documenting local life and customs. Due to World War II, several of Severance's letters were censored by the U.S. Army. 

Finding Aid

The Fred Arnolt Letters were written by Fred Arnolt, who worked in the United States Merchant Marine, and during World War II served as a member of the "Seabees" or Navy Construction Battalion. Most of the letters document his travels, although several were censored by the U.S. military. 

Finding Aid

WW2 Diaries

Frank Dunbaugh Jr. was a major in the US Army during World War II (he also served as a private in World War I). This diary transcription details his time as the military governor of Hersbruck, Germany, and how his unit identified former Nazi party members, the interrogations of SS officers, rioting in a Polish refugee camp, and meeting the survivors of concentration and labor camps. 

Finding Aid

Elaine Zold was a dancer and USO performer from Chicago, Illinois who kept several diaries documenting her life, performances, and other activities. While most of Zold's entries concern the United States, she also performed in Italy in 1945. 

Finding Aid

G.S. Fisher was a woman who traveled by train from Braintree, Massachusetts, to Camp Gordon in Augusta, Georgia in 1942 to visit her son who was stationed there. During her trip she documents many aspects of both wartime and southern life. Photographs, presumably taken by Fisher, are pasted throughout the diary as are souvenir pictures. 

Finding Aid


Top Hat

Black top hat decorated with orange and red Paint. The names on the hat reflect the places visited by Captain Lee Donald Smith during World War II.


Silk Map

During World War II allied aircrews were issued with silk 'escape maps' to help them evade capture or escape from imprisonment, should they be shot down over enemy territory. It is estimated that as many as 20,000 Allied troops managed to escape from enemy areas by using a silk map.



Corona Zephyr typewriter used by Brigadier General A.W.W. Woodcock to type all of his correspondence. He served in Spanish American War, WWI, and WWII.


Identification Tags

Four dog tags on stainless steel chain belonging to Staton William Moore, Salisbury, MD.


Service Flag

Service Flag from World War II for family members to display indicating a member is serving in active duty. 


Ration Tokens

Issued by the Office of Price Administration (OPA), the ration tokens were used by retailers as change to give to customers who bought goods with ration stamps during WWII. Red OPA tokens were for meats and fats. Blue OPA tokens were used for processed foods.


Oral Histories

Many of these oral histories have been transcribed, PDFs of which can be found by clicking the Internet Archive pillars (check download options on right side for PDF). 

This interview was conducted by Katherine Borland with Bernard C. White in Milton, DE. In this interview, he describes his upbringing and namesake, and describes life near Milford, DE. He describes the segregated town and the education he could get as an African American and the various schools that were available for African Americans in Southern Delaware. He describes his upbringing and education, and his being drafted into the US Armed Forces during World War II, becoming a map maker for the military.

This interview is part of the Delmarva Folklife Project. For more information, see the Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid.

Bernard Purnell is an African American World War II Veteran. In the interview, he speaks of his getting drafted and his introduction to the army, as well the experience of his community in the war. He describes his experience in training and deployment overseas, followed by his return from the war and transition to civilian work in Electricity. He also describes segregation in 1940s Salisbury, MD. 

This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program. 
For more information, see the Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid.

This interview was conducted by Kelly Feltault with Edith and Sam Maddox in Tyaskin, MD. In this interview, they talk about their life and the changes they've seen in the area over time. They begin by speaking about the cultural importance of sassafras root and how they make sassafras tea and other home remedies. Edith talks about her younger life in Whitehaven, remembering the work that people did including "tonging" in the winter and working in canneries in the summer. She also speaks about moving north during WWII and working as a riveter in an airplane factory. They both speak about changes in the area, noting the closing of important factories and lack of younger workers on farms.

Marion Ennis was a US Navy veteran who served aboard the USS Shannon, Robert H. Smith-class destroyer, during World War II. In the interview, he talks about his training and experiences aboard the ship as well as other stories about the war.

This interview was conducted by Donald Day with Bill Belote. In part 2, Douglas and Bill continue their conversation about conservation. They speak about pine trees and the differences between local pines and pines Bill saw in Japan during his military tour in Okinawa, recalling his experience during the Battle of Okinawa during World War II.

On July 12, 2005, Randall Parker was interviewed by Charles and Karen Smith in connection with the Teaching American History program. In the interview, he discusses his experiences growing up near San Domingo and attending segregated schools, as well as serving in a segregated army unit in the Second World War. This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program. 
For more information, see the Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid.

This interview was conductedby Kelly Feltault with Minnie and Elmer Ford in Rumbley, MD, on May 22, 1998. Minnie and Elmer Ford are long-time water workers from the Rumbley area. In this interview, Elmer describes his life and its close relation to the water, from his childhood to his time in the Navy during World War II.

On July 8, 2004, Martin Marks was interviewed by Paul Turner in connection with the Teaching American History program. During the interview, Marks discusses growing up on the Eastern Shore and his service in the Second World War. This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program. 
For more information, see the Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid.
On July 8, 2005, Mr. and Mrs. Goldsborough Tyler were interviewed by Kathy Malone, Robin Simmons, Catrina Bjorkland in connection with the Teaching American History program. Both of the Tylers discussed their experiences growing up on the Eastern Shore and becoming educators in Dorchester County, as well as "Goldy" Tyler's experience playing baseball and serving during the Second World War and Mrs. Tyler's experiences on the home-front during the war when she co-owned a photography studio in Pocomoke City with other women. This interview is part of the Teaching American History Program. 
For more information, see the Edward H. Nabb Center Finding Aid.

This interview was conducted by Kelly Feltault with Thomas Burton in Nasawadox, VA. In this interview, he speaks about his upbringing and life as a farmer. He speaks about his life during world war II, and his joining the Navy after the war.