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Women and World War II: Exhibit Project

Research guide to support the WWII exhibit project for the course Women & The American Experience: The Later Years
Assignment Links:
Assignment Guidelines | Explore this sample exhibit from DPLA for inspiration/ideas for how to organize your own project


In what ways and to what extent did women impact the war effort?  

To what extent did WWII impact women?


"Secretaries, housewives, waitresses, women from all over central Florida are getting into vocational schools to learn war work." Local Identifier: 208-AA-352V-4, National Archives Identifier: 535579.

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Background Reading: Recommended Collections & Articles

Understand your topic more clearly by starting with background reading. Once you have a solid foundation, you can dive into the details. When considering your topic, what are the most important facts, people, places, events, themes? If you don't have an answer, you need to read more. As you explore, take notes; what jumps out at you that you want to know more about? 

Online Reference Collections through Bunn Library:

Suggested Articles and Topic Overviews:

Scholarly Source Collections: Online Resources from Bunn Library

Narrow your focus with secondary sources. These sources take a particular position, and contain an analysis of documents and material in order to support an argument. Secondary sources can be written by scholars via books and peer-reviewed journals, or published in newspapers and magazines written by experienced journalists.

Recommended Collections: 
For more, visit the library's Online Resources page. Use the filters to limit to sources in history. 

Tips for searching for scholarly articles:

  • Be intentional about your keywords - who are the important figures, or events? How could you distill your topic into the most crucial words or phrases?

  • Use the Advanced Search option whenever possible to join together keywords and key phrases. Use quotation marks around phrases to ensure all words appear together in order. Such as "dollar diplomacy" 

  • Add search filters - limit to scholarly journal articles, book chapters (avoid book reviews!) 

Print and eBooks from Bunn Library

Locate books in print or ebook format:

  • Bunn Library Catalog Access Bunn Library's print and ebook collection. Start with a "subject keyword" search.

  • Proquest eBook Central. Filter your results using limiters and change your search terms according to your topic. Contact Bunn or visit our Haiku page for helpful search tips.

To find a book, search the Bunn Library CatalogUse the General Keyword search to broaden your results. For a narrower focus, search the catalog by Subject Keyword using the drop-down menu. Try the keywords World War, 1939-1945 -- Participation, Female.

To find books in the stacks, look at the call number:

  • 000-399: Lower Level

  • 400-699: Main Floor

  • 700-999: Second Floor

Have a useful book in hand?

  • Look at the Index for additional keywords and locate where they are discussed in your book. 

  • Check the Bibliography for additional sources that are connected to your topic.

Suggested titles to get started:

Primary Source Collections to Explore

Primary Sources are the historical evidence, and the most crucial element of your exhibit. Examples of sources include photographs, letters, diary entries, interviews/oral histories, and newspaper articles. 

Be intentional with the sources that you select to address your part of the exhibit - what makes this sources invaluable? How does it exemplify the impact of WWII on women? You must include an object label for each source/artifact in the exhibit. 

Analyzing a visual source can be tough! Start with these questions to help think through how the imagery supports the creator's goals. What is the value of the source? What does it say? What does it leave out? 

  • Describe the source: List information about the images, colors, lines, placement of objects, other details.
  • Record basic information about the work. Who created it? When? Does the piece have a title, or supporting text that can provide more context? In what format was it originally distributed, and how it was it used?
  • Based on what you know about the image, what message did the creator(s) of the poster intend to express? Who was the intended audience? What do you think they wanted the audience to do or feel once they have seen the image?
  • Is the image effective? Does it successfully communicate the intended message? Does it use misleading information or lies to express its message? If so, how?
  • Remember, you are building an exhibit. When choosing your artifacts, think about how they relate to one another - can you find artifacts that share common themes, or offer a counterpoint? 

For more help, use the Image Analysis Procedure graphic organizer from Facing History. 

Collections from Bunn Library:

Historical Newspaper Archives: 

Collections from the Web:

Recommended Resources by Theme

Women at War:

Women at Home:

Women at Work:

Women Incarcerated: