Childhood Narratives on the Home Front at Florida Gulf Coast University collects oral histories of individuals who were children during the time of the Second World War. It crosses national borders to include the stories of those living in the U.S., U.K., and Western and Eastern Europe. While there are important collections that include the stories of children who lived through the atrocities of that era, this project focuses on the everyday lives of individuals whose childhoods were shaped by the realities of war.
Narrators recall their everyday lives from the period between 1939 and 1945. They discuss the ways that war affected (or did not affect) their families, communities, education, and playtime. European narrators reflect on issues like bombings and relocation, while Americans recall rationing and air raid drills.
The National Home Front Project has been honored to partner with this exciting initiative since fall 2017. Childhood Narratives on the Home Front has contributed an initial set of nineteen oral histories conducted by the project directors and their student interviewers, a selection of which can be found here.
Dr. Frances Davey is an Assistant Professor of History at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida. She received her Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from the University of Delaware. Her teaching and research interests focus on U.S. women’s history of the 19th and 20th century, oral history, material culture, and public history. Her current research includes several oral history projects, the topics of which include childhood memories of World War II and stories of abortion and reproductive rights. She is also a founding member of FGCU’s Oral History, Ethnography and Life Testimony Initiative. She is currently working on a manuscript titled “All the Graces In One”: The Development of Women’s Collegiate Athletics, 1874-1930, which investigates the impact of early collegiate athletics on popular concepts of womanhood.
Dr. Joanna Salapska-Gelleri is Assistant Professor of Cognitive Psychology at Florida Gulf Coast University, in Fort Myers, Florida. She received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Experimental Psychology from the Cognitive and Brain Sciences program at the University of Nevada, Reno.
She is interested in the fallibility of memories and the processes and factors that distort as well as enhance them. She studies how language affects the consolidation and recall of autobiographical information. Her broad research interests include the nature of the multilingual brain and how culture and context influence the memory systems of bilingual speakers and the influence of cognitive science on the development of artificially intelligent technology.
Currently, Dr. Salapska-Gelleri is a co-PI of the Childhood Narratives on the Homefront oral history project at FGCU where, along with her research partner Dr. Frances Davey and their students, they are collecting the childhood experiences of adults who were children during the Second World War. These oral histories are also being co-deposited with the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College. Joanna is co-authoring a course textbook for Routlege titled Mind, Brain and Artificial Intelligence.