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EXPLORE The American Soldier

The NEH-funded American Soldier in World War II makes available a remarkable collection of written reflections on war and military service by American soldiers who served during the Second World War.

In its efforts to mobilize, train, equip, and lead the largest fighting force in the nation's history, the US War Department created an in-house Research Branch staffed and advised by the country's leading social and behavioral scientists. To help create a more efficient and effective fighting force, the Branch surveyed approximately half a million individuals over the course of the war. Tens of thousands of these men and women not only filled out the Branch's surveys, but they were eager to offer additional advice, praise, and criticism, and to share their personal stories of serving in America's "citizen-soldier" Army.

What did these soldiers think about the food they were served or about leave, or about the training they received? How did African Americans from the North feel about their time stationed in the South? What did they and others think about their placement in the Army and about their advancement, or lack thereof? These are just a few of the myriad issues respondents candidly addressed under the promise of anonymity.