Group of Soldiers Posed with Firestone Officials, from the Gaston Museum of Art & History.
This Veterans Day, we thought we’d mention some best bets for finding and searching materials on DigitalNC related to military history. Some time periods and subjects have better representation than others, so we’ve focused on the five wars that have the most related materials.
Tip 1: Search by Subject
To isolate materials that are predominantly about a particular war, you can use the subject specific links listed below.
After you click on one of the links above, if you’d like to search within the results, type your search term in the search box at the top of the page, leaving “within results” selected (see screenshot at right).
You can also do a full text search that combines (1) your research interest (perhaps a name, a topic, or an event) in conjunction with (2) the name of a particular war. This may yield a lot more results, depending on your research interest, but it could also zero in on your target faster. Here’s a link to an example that you can amend to your own use.
Only interested in photographs? Try this search, which is limited to photos that contain the word “military” or “soldiers” as a subject.
Tip 2: Search by Date Range
Another tactic is to search or browse items that were created during a particular war. These don’t always have that war as a subject term, but they often deal with wartime issues or society regardless. We’ve listed date specific links here:
A list of alumni and students killed or missing in action, from the 1944 UNC-Chapel Hill Yackety Yack yearbook, page 12.
Keep in mind that doing a full text search will be ineffective about 98% of the time when it comes to handwritten items on our site, as most do not have transcripts. This is just to let you know that you may need to read through handwritten items pulled up in one of the searches above if you believe they may contain information you’re interested in.
Our partners have shared a lot of yearbooks on DigitalNC and, while they may not be the first thing that comes to mind for military history, many colleges and universities recognized students who served. Especially for the Vietnam, Korean, Gulf, and Afghan wars, yearbooks document campus reactions and protests. You currently can’t search across all of the yearbooks available on DigitalNC, however if you’d like to browse through yearbooks published during a particular war, you can use this example link and just adjust the dates as needed. Currently, our site has high school yearbooks published up through the late 1960s, and college and university yearbooks and campus publications through 2015.
Tip 3: Newspapers!
Searching the student and community newspapers on DigitalNC can yield biographical information about soldiers, editorials expressing local opinions about America’s military action, as well as news and advertisements related to rationing and resources on the homefront.
The Newspapers Advanced Search is your friend here! You can target papers published during specific years. You can also narrow your search to specific newspaper titles.
Screenshot of the Newspapers Advanced Search page, with the search phrase “Red Cross” and limiting the results to papers published from 1914-1918.
We also wanted to call your attention to a couple of newspaper titles on DigitalNC that were published exclusively for service members or during one of these wars:
- The Caduceus, published by the Base Hospital at Camp Greene (Charlotte, NC), 1918-1919
- Cloudbuster, published at UNC-Chapel Hill to share news about the Navy pre-flight school held on campus, 1942-1945
- The Home Front News, published by the Tarboro Rotary Club for servicemen from their city, 1943-1945
- Hot Off the Hoover Rail, published by the community of Lawndale for servicemen from their city, 1942-1945
- Trench and Camp, published by The Charlotte Observer for Camp Greene, 1917-1918
Bonus Resource: Wilson County’s Greatest Generation
One of the largest exhibits on our site is Wilson County’s Greatest Generation, an effort by the Wilson County Historical Association to document the service men and women of Wilson County, North Carolina who served in World War II. Documentation is organized by individual, and includes personal histories, photos, clippings, and other ephemera.
We hope this information can guide you through researching military history on DigitalNC. If you have any of your own tips or questions, please let us know by commenting below or contacting us.