About This Project

  • The goal of the project team was to make the National Home Front Project’s collection of oral history interviews more useful and accessible to educators and students through the development of supplemental educational materials. Similar to lesson plans, these materials draw upon interviews currently featured on the project website and popularly used World War II educational resources to consolidate interviews by theme, provide necessary historical context, suggest a reading list of primary and secondary sources, and include guided questions. These materials supplement themes that are prominent in the current teaching of World War II, as well as introduce new voices and perspectives to the narrative. The materials generated through this project allow educators to directly apply the content of oral history interviews to their teaching of life on the World War II Home Front. All resources are available on the project website in a downloadable, digitally interactive, and engaging format.

  • These materials were designed to prioritize flexibility and adaptability of use. We have sought to make the materials from our archive easy to find, easy to use, and quickly adaptable to a range of potential World War II lesson plans. We centered our research around the content and skills highlighted by the AP U.S. History curriculum. However, while we intentionally featured content prominent in the AP U.S. History course—recollections of rationing, defense factories, and the atomic bomb—we also intended to weave new voices into the dialogue based on the diverse offerings of our collection.

    Our downloadable documents will be most useful to educators, for the purposes of supplementing their existing lesson plans. We encourage educators to tailor our materials to their individual needs. For example, a teacher searching for primary sources on civilian mobilization may draw three stories from our archive, but choose to craft their own questions and extension activities. Conversely, a teacher might assign students to listen to 12 oral history excerpts for homework, and use our tailor-made questions and extension exercises to assist in developing a full lesson the next day.

  • This project was designed and created by a team of student interns at the Starr Center of the American Experience. Read more about each team member and their experience with this project below:

Lorna Cummings

Being a freshman on campus, I knew I wanted to work with the Starr Center as much as possible as a hopeful American Studies major.

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I visited campus for the Young Historian’s Conference in 2018 with the Starr center and the staff made me fall in love with Washington College. I thought the National Home Front Project was a very innovative way to preserve the history of those that lived through World War II.

I love being a part of the team making these resources accessible to high school students because this is a resource I would have loved to have known about when I was in high school. I really love my coworkers on the project because everyone is bringing their own experiences, knowledge, and specialties to the table. It really helped me find a group of people who are reliable and as invested in sharing history as me.

Looking back over my time on the team, I am proud of the accomplishments from our group as a whole. Creating teaching aides for AP US History classes will allow students to see a new view of the war and home front as a whole. We worked to make the resources more accessible and I am excited to see what lays in store for the future of the National Home Front Project.

Anna Garow 

I am a Junior majoring in history and economics, and have worked on the National Home Front Project in some capacity since fall of my freshman year.

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As a student, I have always been driven to go deeper, to get to the tiny threads that make up the fabric of history. I was drawn to the National Home Front Project in part because it offered the opportunity to study history on as small a scale as possible – individual stories. I spent a year and a half on the archival team, interviewing and processing these individual stories. This is where I became interested in what we could learn by weaving them together; I noticed that narrators were describing things time and time again that I simply had not heard about in my prior education. I joined the education team for the National Home Front Project in January 2020, and am really enjoying figuring out how to tell the story of an event using individual perspectives. I believe oral history is one of the most important tools we have to study the past, because it reminds us that history is more than just the policies of nations. It is composed of millions of ordinary lives tangling and weaving together to create extraordinary events.
Leah Morris

I am a junior and an American Studies major at Washington College. I have worked on two projects with the Starr Center.

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 I was a member of the research and interpretation team, where I helped to study and analyze the history of the Customs House, where the Starr Center is based. We used the information to develop an exhibit entitled ‘Portrait of a Port Town’ which went on display in the Customs House.

More recently, I was a member of the National Homefront Project Education Team. I worked to help code and classify all the oral histories collected by the National Homefront Project, and developed that information into a compilation of stories, background, and outside resources to help any teacher, student, or anyone to looking to learn more about the Homefront in WWII. I loved being able to explore how everyone contributed to the war effort in their own little way.  Through the Starr Center’s Explore America Program, I was also able to intern at the National Archives and Records Administration in the Education and Public Programming Department. My experiences at and coordinated by the Starr Center have helped me discover a passion for helping people learn, and from that decide on the future career goal of being a museum educator. 

Katy Shenk

As a current junior and history major at Washington College, I have been working with oral history at the Starr Center since the beginning of my freshman year.

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As someone who has always been fond of “good stories” oral history bridged my natural curiosity to my interest in historical analysis and investigation. Working with oral history has allowed me to understand and appreciate the importance of local history, and the work that is necessary to connect these stories to the overarching historical narrative and to illuminate their significance.

Through my work as a processing archivist for the National Home Front Project, I became intimately familiar with a number of the narrators and their stories. After spending the summer of 2019 as a Starr Center Explore America intern at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, I left inspired by the institution’s commitment to providing educational access to their collection. I felt that the collection of the NHFP could benefit from an educational component that would make the collection more useful and accessible through using our project website.

This project has impressed upon me the responsibility of curating a collection and the challenges of molding a collection with an audience of students and educators in mind. As I consider careers in the field of public history, I hope to continue to explore the intersection of history and community, technology, and archiving, and to share my love of history with others.

I am greatly indebted to the Starr Center and the National Home Front Project for allowing me to expand my communication, leadership, and project management skills. I am inspired by the projects here and the possibilities they provide for engaged and empowered public history. 

Nick Splendoria 

My name is Nick Splendoria and I am a freshman double majoring in Political Science and Communications and Media Studies at Washington College.

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 I am involved in a lot of clubs, including being Co-President of the Washington College Democrats, a team member of Mock Trial and Model UN, and an actor in the musicals. I have fallen in love with American history and government because I had a great teacher who made American history interesting and, more importantly, relevant. I hope that through this project I will be able to help many other students have the same experience I had! 
  • The team would like to thank Washington College, the Starr Center for the American Experience, the National Home Front Project, and Starr Center staff, especially Dr. Patrick Nugent and Erica Fugger for project supervision. Dr. Sara Clarke-Vivier, Assistant Professor of Education at Washington College, also provided invaluable guidance regarding educational curriculum design and pedagogy. Finally, the team extends their gratitude to all project partners, former and current student interns, and most importantly the narrators who dedicated and directed their time, energy, and passion to providing these interviews for the National Home Front Project.