Memories of the 1940s: World War II collections at HSP
The week marks the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and its aftermath, including the United States’ entry into World War II. For some, the memories of that day remain forever engrained. Their voices, in the form of primary sources from that era serve as powerful remembrances of that time period, of loved ones separated, of home front heroes, and of the war itself.
Those collections HSP has that recall the World War II era are varied and insightful. Below is a list of just some of these collections. Whether you’re researching a family member who served during the war, doing a study of World War II propaganda, or just want to know what life was like for soldiers before, during, and after the war, these collections illuminate an era in which people banded together, donated time, and served the county for a common cause.
Joseph Beck papers (Collection 3083) – Joseph E. Beck (1904-1981) was a social worker who helped Jewish refugees during World War II. He became the executive director of the Jewish Family Society of Philadelphia in 1934.
Herman Berger papers (Collection 3075) – Philadelphia Herman Berger was drafted into the U. S. Army in 1946. After basic training, he sent to occupied Japan and assigned to duty as a clerk typist at U.S. military general headquarters in Tokyo, where he served from September 1946 to February 1947.
Anthony Joseph Drexel Biddle papers (Collection 3110) — Biddle was a politician whose career took a turn to diplomacy before and during Word War II. From about 1935 to 1944 he served as U. S. ambassador to several European countries, including Norway, Poland and France. There’s no finding aid yet for this collection, but there is a paper inventory in our library. The collection is slated for processing next year under our current NHPRC grant.
Frank Gordon Bradley letters (Collection 3548) - Bradley, who lived in Philadelphia but was born in Connecticut, served with the United States Army during World War II. This collection consists of approximately 300 letters written by Bradley to his family in Connecticut during the war.
James Cleary papers (Collection 3086) – During World War II, Cleary volunteered as an air raid warden and help run collections for scrap cans, rubber, and other items in his North Philadelphia neighnorhood.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania collection of World War II papers (Collection 1479) – In late 1942, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania solicited materials to form an artificial collection to document the war effort of a number of community and social service agencies in Philadelphia. The collection contains numerous materials such as correspondence, financial records, photographs, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, and ephemera
Sumiko Kobayashi papers (MSS073/PG230 and MSS073A) – In May 1942 Kobayashi’s family was evacuated from its California home under Executive Order 9066 to the Tanforan Assembly Center, a former race track, and then placed in the internment camp in Topaz, Utah. Her papers document her experiences as a young woman in leaving the Topaz internment camp to enroll in college, and her later activities on behalf of redress for Japanese Americans who had been imprisoned in the internment camps in World War II.
Leon Kolankewicz papers (Collection 3071) – Kolankiewicz was a Pennsylvania assemblyman and Philadelphia councilman. He was appointed president of the Philadelphia chapter of American Relief for Poland in 1929. He later served as vice-president then president of the Polish National Committee in Philadelphia, and he was a committee member of the short-lived (December 1939-June 1940) Philadelphia Chapter of the Commission for Polish Relief.
Edward A. Psulkowski letters (Collection 3123) – Psulkowski served with the Army Air Corps, 494 Bombardment Group (H), 864th Squadron. This colelction of letters narrates the story of two pen pals (Psulkowski and Gladys Kramer) who fell in love during World War II and married in 1946
We have dozens more World War II-related collections that are open for research. For further descriptions and availability check our online catalog Discover. If you’re interested in images, search our new Digital Library, as some items from these collections have been digitized. If you need research help or have any questions, see our website for services and contacts.