Extent: 3 boxes, 1 flat file
The Museum of the City of New York Collection on World War I and World War II contains materials related to New York during the two World Wars spanning the years 1917-1945. Materials found in the collection include pamphlets with information on volunteer services, ration books, certificates of honorable service, and emergency information booklets.
New York City held a significant role during the United States of America’s involvement in World War I and World War II due to the city’s large population, its importance as a port, and its manufacturing presence in the world economy. The city saw soldiers off to war and welcomed them home again, while in the meantime, the citizens staying in New York volunteered with government and military departments, such as the Motor Corps of America and the American Red Cross; rationed their goods; worked in factories; and prepared for the possibility of attack. The government strived to set a patriotic tone in New York City, involving as many citizens as possible in the war effort. Many New Yorkers were sent off to war, leaving their families behind to seek ways to provide for themselves while simultaneously aiding the United States during this time of great turmoil. Many women begin to join the workforce, if only temporarily, and New York evolved with the changing times during these wars, and maintained it’s status as an economic, industrial, and artistic powerhouse.
Scope and Content
The Museum of the City of New York’s Collection on World War I and World War II consists of materials spanning 1917-1945, with the bulk of the material dating to the periods immediately surrounding the two World Wars, 1917-1919 and 1941-1945. These times of war altered the dynamic of New York City, with an increased military presence in the city, as a result of soldiers departing out of the city and worries of attacks on home soil. Through this collection one can see the effort of government officials to involve New Yorkers in volunteer opportunities through organizations such as the American Protective League and the Manhattan Civil Defense Volunteer Office. The enormous effect the wars had on daily life in the city is shown by ration books and air raid manuals. The main formats of materials represented in this collection are tickets, invitations, programs, correspondence, information pamphlets, certificates, and various government documents concerning the safety of the city. The collection also includes many ration books from World War II.
Series I: World War I
Series II: World War II
The Museum is grateful for the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities; this collection was reprocessed as part of the NEH project Illuminating New York City History through Material Culture: A Proposal to Process, Catalog, Digitize, and Rehouse the Ephemera Collections of the Museum of the City of New York. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this finding aid do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.