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The outbreak of World War II changed daily life for every resident in Maryland. Civil defense and war production from Baltimore's largest factories and plants became the state's focus.

The economy shifted from domestic industry to fabrication of liberty ships at Bethlehem-Fairfield Shipyard in Baltimore. The status of women in the workforce became an issue as young men went off to war leaving a huge gap in the labor force. All of society changed, from neighborhood entertainment to rationed goods and voluntary abandonment of what luxuries of life could be had.

Primary Sources

A primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event. The Pratt Library has a large collection of primary source materials available, including the following.


World War II in Maryland - Enoch Pratt Free Library/State Library Resource Center digital collection includes a glimpse into what life was like for Maryland residents. The collection includes: pamphlets, programs, advertisements, ration books, and other artifacts.

Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project from the Library of Congress includes stories of World War II as told by veterans.

U.S. Army Installations in Maryland During World War II includes primary source material that addresses what life was like for those preparing for the war.

Maryland Farms During World War II from the Maryland State Archives includes primary sources about Maryland farms.

Military Resources: World War II from the National Archives includes a wide variety of sources including lesson plans.

Original Documents & Reports

The Maryland Department contains many of the authentic reports that were published and distributed statewide. The selection listed below shows the type of activity that was being carried on by the local citizenry.

Baltimore (Md.). Civilian Mobilization Committee. Block Brigade Book. Baltimore: Civilian Mobilization Committee, 1943. 32 p. MD UA926.B3

Civilian Mobilization Committee appointed in 1942, by Howard W. Jackson, Mayor of Baltimore and head of the city's defense council, "became convinced that multifarious problems, traceable to the impact on Baltimore of the war, should be channelled through a responsible group of citizens charged with examining those problems and with attempting to find the proper solution." (Report of the Civilian Mobilization Committee, December 1943).

Baltimore (Md.). Civilian Mobilization Committee. Report of the Civilian Mobilization Committee, December, 1943. Baltimore: Civilian Mobilization Committee, 1943. n.p. MD UA928.M3B2

Baltimore (Md.). Department of Education. Educational Adjustments to War Post-war Conditions. Baltimore: Baltimore Department of Education, 1943. 238 p. MD D810.E4M28

Baltimore Association of Commerce. Committee on National Defense. National Defense Directory for Baltimore and Maryland, Revised to June 15, 1941. Baltimore: Baltimore Association of Commerce, 1941. 46 p. MD UA23.B3 1941

Martin Company. A History of the Martin B-26 Marauder in World War II. Baltimore: Glenn L. Martin Co., [1943?]. 24 p. MD TL686.M2M2q

Maryland. Commission on Post-war Reconstruction and Development. Maryland Post-war Employment and Programs, June, 1944 and 1945. Baltimore: Maryland Commission on Post-war Reconstruction and Development, 1944. 14 p. MD D828.M3A35

Maryland. Council of Defense. Report of the Maryland Council of Defense, August 1, 1940 to September 1, 1942. Baltimore: Maryland Council of Defense, [1943?]. 47 p. MD UA928.M3A32

Miscellaneous Collection of the Articles, Pamphlets and Photographs Relating to the Glenn L. Martin Company. 6 vols. Baltimore: Glenn L. Martin Co, 1937-46. MD TL724.5.M3M5

Reserve Officers Association of the United States. Department of Maryland. Suggestions Concerning Civic Mobilization for National Service and Defense for the United States of America. Baltimore: Reserve Officers Association of the United States, 1940. 19 p. MD UA914.M3R4

United States. National Resources Planning Board. Region 2. Preliminary Report on Defense Area, Baltimore, Maryland. Covering the City of Baltimore and Parts of Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard, Carroll, and Harford Counties in Maryland. Baltimore: U.S. National Resources Planning Board, 1942. 58 p. MD HC108.B33U6

Wingate, James Louis. Marylanders in Italy, Compiled by James Louis Wingate, Public Relations Section, Fifth Army, 1st ed. Centreville, Md: Queen Anne's Pub. Co., [1946?] 139 p. MD F176.74.W5

Serial Publications

Maryland Department has many periodical titles from the 1940's War years. Maryland World War II Serials include local groups and institutions that functioned in the defense industry or demonstrate what life was like for Marylanders in that period.


In order to obtain the pulse of cities and towns around the state, one need look no further than the newspapers that emanate from those localities. The Pratt Library has resources that are an excellent source for obtaining the view of the War from both the urban and rural perspective. The Periodicals Department houses a large collection of newspapers, and Pratt Library databases can help you find an article from the past or present.

Annual Reports

The activities of both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors are revealed through their annual reports. The Maryland Department's collection of annual reports provide an outstanding overview of activity and finance during the War for business and community organizations.


Ephemera is generally defined as an object that is transient, or not permanent. For a number of years the Maryland Department has been collecting and organizing this type of material: letters, flyers, programs, cards, notices, advertising, etc. Among the more than 5,000 items in the Maryland World War II Ephemera Collection are more than 150 authentic items from World War II. These materials range from Army and Navy awards given to Maryland companies for their participation in the War effort to patriotic posters and ration tokens.

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