Whose stories? What voices?

Where We Begin

When you think of World War II, what do you think of first? If you’re a product of the American school system, you might think of these things:

  • Pearl Harbor
  • D-Day
  • Rosie the Riveter
  • The liberation of the Nazi death camps

But I’ll bet you didn’t learn about these events:

  • Aleutian internment
  • Pacific internment
  • Japanese Canadian incarceration
  • The occupation of Korea

There are certain stories that ground our cultural narrative of WWII, that reflect our cultural anxieties and values and reinforce our collective American identity, and those stories need to be told–but they are not the only stories. World War II was a vast and complicated enterprise; like any historical event, its story is made of many stories.  

In my teaching and research, I look at lesser-known stories of World War II such as Japanese-American incarceration, Aleutian internment, and Pacific internment of Allied citizens by the Japanese. This site grew out of my interest in stories of childhood in World War II, particularly childhood under occupation, internment, or incarceration.  My central questions:

  • Whose stories become “the story”?
  • Whose stories are marginalized?
  • Whose voices have power and whose are silenced?

First-time Visitor? Welcome! 

As you browse the site, you’ll see that some resources specifically address children’s experiences–my transcriptions of oral history recordings of former child internees, for example–while other resources are more general. I continue to search for child-specific resources, but in the meantime I strive to provide context and information about these events.

Returning visitor? Good to see you again!

Recent additions include more of my transcriptions of oral histories from the Imperial War Museum, London; photographs of Japanese American incarceration sites; and oral histories of Japanese Americans who were incarcerated as children.

What’s Here & Why

This site is a blend of my original scholarship and other information that, while publicly available, has never been presented in this way–as a comprehensive study of WWII incarcerations, internments, and occupations especially as they involved children. If you see material that is inaccurate or needs additional context, please let me know! And if you have suggestions for new materials for me to add, I’d love to hear those as well.


Finally, I want to acknowledge the contributions of West Chester University students to this site. Graduate Assistants Samantha Jagernauths and Andrea B. helped to build and populate early iterations of War Stories. From August 2018 to December 2018, Graduate Assistant Megan Barnett added significant content, particularly visual content. In Summer 2020, undergraduate student Alix Duncan worked with me to re-format and prepare an asset inventory for Dublin Core metadata.

Dr. Gabrielle Atwood Halko, ghalko@wcupa.edu

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