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Women and the Home Front During World War II: Primary Sources: Archives & Records


Elizabeth Bradley Heffelfinger Scrapbooks and Related Papers.
Original materials and news clippings from four scrapbooks containing correspondence, memoranda, reports, trip itineraries, passports, mimeographed bulletins and circulars, pamphlets, programs, awards, and photographs documenting the home front war work of the Women's Activities Division of the Minneapolis Civilian Defense Council, and the political work and public life of Elizabeth Bradley Heffelfinger. The roles of the Defense Council's Victory Aides and the Women's Division in the sale of war bonds, scrap salvage, food conservation, overseas donations, and other home front programs are extensively documented.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

John S. and Georgiana Sonnen Correspondence.
This collection (1944-1946) includes letters between John Sonnen and his wife Geogiana describing his experience serving in the anti-aircraft battalions and her life at home in St. Paul during the war. Her letters include information about her daily activities, news about their young son, their family's grocery business, as well as local news and events.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Marion Backus Papers.
Backus was a Red Cross nurse in France during the First World War, and worked on the home front during World War II. Included are materials about her involvement in American National Red Cross recruitment work (1943) and World War II home front activities (1946).
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P1356).

William A. Benitt and Family Papers.
Correspondence, clippings, and account books relating to the farming activities-poultry, livestock, grain, and orchards-of William and Linda James Benitt of Apple Acres Farm outside Hastings, Minnesota. During the World War II, when most men were off to war, women from Hastings were employed to pick, grade, and pack the apples, and they literally saved the Benitt's apple crops from rot, working long hours at harvest time.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P30). 

Reuben Berman and Family Papers.
Papers documenting the activities of Reuben Berman of Minneapolis, Minnesota during World War II, and "V-mail" correspondence from his family in Minneapolis. The family letters contain information on family matters and activities, and life in Minneapolis during World War II.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P2449). 

Myrtle E. Fortun Diary.
Diary-scrapbook (1941-1948) containing letters, clippings, pictures, and reminiscences, largely concerning World War II, collected by Myrtle Fortun, a telephone operator in Lyle, Minnesota. Included are letters written to her by servicemen; newspaper clippings on homefront wartime activities and routines, various military and political aspects of the wartime period; several WWII ration cards and books; and Fortun's own diary entries.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P25). 

Hazel Hamey Golling Papers.
Personal correspondence, printed materials, and photographs relating mainly to Hazel Golling's volunteer activities in the 1940s with the Red Cross and charitable organizations in Minneapolis. The personal correspondence, printed materials, and photographs (2 folders, 1941-1969) reflect Golling's work during World War II in canteens run by the Hennepin County Chapter of the American Red Cross, and her work with the Hennepin County War Chest.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P2487). 

Marianne Hamilton Papers.
Among other things, this collection includes correspondence, draft articles of incorporation, membership lists, printed circulars, newsletters, meeting programs, radio scripts, and news clippings regarding the GI Wives Club of Minneapolis, organized in 1945.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (Hamilton, Marrianne).

Semper Fidelis Papers.
Articles, clippings, and correspondence of publicity chairwoman Ardis L. Parker, documenting the members and activities of this organization of female relatives of men serving in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P1219).

A Time of Remembrance: Fifty Years and a Day, December 7, 1941 - December 8, 1991.
Photocopy of a commemorative pamphlet containing fourteen brief reminiscences about life during the Second World War by members of the Macalester-Plymouth United Church community. The reminiscences include information about men's and women's service in the Armed Forces, life on the home front, and the replacement of men by women in the factories.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (P160). 

World War II Papers.
Papers pertaining to Pearl Summer Olafson’s employment (1942-1945) during World War II at the Twin Cities Ordnance Plant (New Brighton, Minn.) in the Packing Department of Building 103. The plant manufactured small arms ammunition for the U.S. Army and packaged it for shipment overseas. The collection contains employment-related documents; an employee manual; an awards ceremony program; greeting cards and a letter from the president of Federated Cartridge Corporation, which operated the plant for the Army; an ammunition packing label; issues of the plant newspaper, one of which includes a photograph of Summers (Olafson); and newspaper clippings about the plant, including several contemporary articles with photographs on its women war workers.
MNHS call number: P2663

Books & Other Publications

Dear Poppa: The World War II Berman Family Letters, compiled by Ruth Berman.
St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1997.
MNHS call number: Reading Room D 810 .C4 D347 1997, also available for purchase

"We Were the Lucky Ones"
Interviews with New Ulm residents reflecting on their experiences during the war, including life on the homefront.
St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Public Radio, 1985.
MNHS call number: Audiotape # 40 (1 55+ minutes cassette).

Oral History

Greatest Generation/WWII

Part I
This project chronicles the lives of Minnesota men and women through the World War II years. Both military veterans and people who worked on the Home Front are interviewed. Among subjects discussed are: employment of women on the Home Front; rationing; bond drives; Pearl Harbor; prisoner of war camps; effects of the Great Depression; segregation, discrimination, and racism; life in Japan during the war; economic conditions during the war; military service in the Europe and the Pacific; medical care; raising families in a time of shortages; postwar adjustment. Interviews with Florence Anderson Glassner and Doris Shea Strand both discuss women's war work on the home front during World War II.

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