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World War II in Southeast North Carolina and Beyond


This guide identifies collections that contain materials from the World War II era, including primary sources, secondary source research, and reminiscences of the war. Collections primarily contain correspondence and memorabilia from soldiers who served in the war, with highlights from those local to Southeast North Carolina, as well as from the African American perspective and those experiencing the war on the home front. Additional documents reflect international involvement from the European and/or Asian side of the conflict. A large selection of oral histories by those with first-hand accounts of the war are also featured, including the testimony of Holocaust survivors.

As the headquarters of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and area training sites of every military branch, Wilmington was especially crucial in the war effort and was known as the "Defense Capital of the State." What is now the Port of Wilmington served as a major shipbuilding hub for liberty ships under the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, who built 243 cargo vessels. These distinctions allowed Wilmington to be named the first American World War II Heritage City in September 2020.

For information related to World War I, please refer to the Related Guides tab.