Answering the Call: Experiences of North Carolina’s Military Veterans, 1898–1945

Contributed by Matthew Peek

The North Carolina Museum of History has opened a new exhibit about the military experiences of North Carolinians from the Spanish-American War through World War II. As part of a 2020-2021 Department of Defense World War II history grant, the Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina partnered with the History Museum for funding to digitize and transcribe 58 North Carolina WWII veterans' oral history interviews from the North Carolina Veterans Oral History Collection. The grant also supports the processing, description, and digitization of a set of more than 200 original WWII home front posters from two different collections produced by local businesses, wartime organizations, and school students in North Carolina.

Original poster entitled “Do You Buy Stamps?”, featuring a younger civilian wearing an Uncle Sam hat to question whether Americans were supporting the war effort by purchasing war bonds and war savings stamps during World War II. This poster was created by Elizabeth Baker, an eighth-grade student at the Waughton School in Winston-Salem, NC [1940s]

The posters were collected by the State Archives as part of their WWII records collecting project from 1942 to 1947, and the posters have been stored unseen and unused since then due to a lack of description. Of particular interest are the student posters, which present views of WWII and activities on the home front from the perspective of children from first grade through their junior year in high school. Many come from students attending schools in Forsyth County, Guilford County, and Wake County.

As part of the grant deliverables, the oral history interviews will be made available online towards the end of the summer of 2021, with full transcripts to follow. Also in the future, around 50 posters will be available online through the State Archives of North Carolina's North Carolina Digital Collections in the WWII collection. The posters and interviews are being incorporated by the Museum of History into their new military gallery as well as becoming part of their education department's programming, and there will also be a website developed on North Carolina in WWII.

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