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Suggested Questions for Civilians

Factory workers, including women, Minneapolis, 1944. Photograph Collection. Location no. E448.19 r2, Negative no. 9972
Factory workers, Minneapolis, 1944.

Use these questions as a guideline in preparing interviews with men and women who worked on the home front during World War II.

Each interview should begin with a brief introduction, which the interviewer may record before leaving for the interview. Include the date, the names of the narrator and the interviewer, and describe the place where the interview will take place - such as the narrator's home.

For best results divide the interview into a series of topics, with questions relating to each topic asked in sequence. While there may be some overlap, the interview will proceed more smoothly if it is organized around topics like those suggested below.

BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

  • What is your full name? For married women ask for a maiden name as well.
  • Where were you born, and when?
  • Briefly describe your life before the war (particularly education and job)
  • Were you married or single at that time?
  • If married, what was your spouse's name and wartime occupation?
  • If married, when and where were you married?
  • Did you have children before or during the war?

WORK DURING THE WAR

  • Where were you when you heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor?
  • What were your feelings at that time?
  • Where did you live at that time?
  • Were you employed at that time, and where?
  • Describe your main wartime activity?
  • Did your work change during the war? If it did, how and why?
  • Did you have a choice of work/activity? Why did you choose what you did?
  • What kind of training were you given?
  • What kind of work did you do?
  • Describe your job and your daily routine
  • Who was your supervisor?
  • What did you like and dislike about your work?
  • Who did you work with?
  • If you had children, how did you care for them?

LIFE DURING THE WAR

  • How did you feel about the war?
  • How did your family and friends feel about the war?
  • Did you change where you lived during the war?
  • In what ways did the war change your activities or habits?
  • Were you treated differently because of your gender, ethnicity, or race?
  • If so, describe how you were treated and how you reacted
  • Describe some of the things that affected your life after the war started
  • What different responsibilities did you have to take on?
  • What social activities were available to you and your friends?
  • What did you do for entertainment?
  • Were you aware of rationing?
  • Describe what was rationed and how you and others coped with it?
  • Did you have family members in the armed services?
  • Where did they serve and in what branch of service?
  • Did you know anyone who was killed or wounded in the war?
  • If you did, how did that affect your view of the war?
  • How did you keep in touch with family members in the service?
  • How did you keep in touch with family members in the U.S.?
  • Did you travel at all during the war? If you did, describe what it was like.

LIFE AFTER THE WAR

  • How did the end of the war affect your life?
  • How soon did things return to normal for you and your family?
  • Did any changes in your life during the war become permanent changes?
  • How soon were you able to buy rationed items normally?
  • If you had a wartime job, did you continue that after the war ended?
  • As you look back, describe how the war affected the rest of your life
  • Would you like to add anything to this interview?
  • Thank the narrator for his or her time and for sharing their memories.

If the interview will be deposited in a library or other repository, remember to have the narrator sign the donor agreement forms! Leave one completed form with the narrator and take the other as a record of donation.