Doris M. Johnson Project: We Had a Job to Do: Marylanders at Home and Abroad during World War II, 2008-2009

                       OH 9907, Cyril Byron, photo                            Browse an inventory of the 12 oral histories in the collection

The Doris M. Johnson Project: We Had a Job to Do: Marylanders at Home and Abroad During World War II was a joint endeavor of the Maryland Historical Society and Doris M. Johnson High School in Baltimore. Students from the high school conducted research for the interviews through the MdHS’s Student Research Center for History (SeaRCH), utilizing the primary source material on WW II contained within collection. The project coincided with and complemented “Maryland Veterans of World War II,” an exhibition held at the Maryland Historical Society through 2009.

The goal of the project was to introduce the students involved to World War II’s “impact on the peoples and institutions of Maryland.” Students wrote essays on different aspects of Maryland’s role in World War II and conducted 11 oral histories with Maryland veterans of the Army’s 29th Division, Merchant Mariners and Tuskegee Airmen. There is also a group interview with members of the American Rosie the Riveter Association. Please visit the project inventory for a summary of topics discussed for each interview.

The collection also contains one of the last interviews with historian and activist Howard Zinn before he passed away in January of 2010. Mr. Zinn, best known for his book A People’s History of the Unites States, discusses his experiences as a bombardier during World War 2 as well as his anti-war activism during the Vietnam War. Specific topics discussed relating to Maryland include: Mr. Zinn's relationship with Phillip and Daniel Berrigan, the Baltimore Four, the Catonsville Nine, Viva House and Jonah House. Mr. Zinn’s interview is also part of the Doris M. Johnson Project: Vietnam War Series, 2008. (This series is currently being processed and made ready for public use.)

Materials available for this project include audio and video recordings, biographical material, photographs, ephemera and other materials. Transcripts are available for 10 of the interviews. OH 9915, Victor Harvey Hodgin, Sr. has not been transcribed.

There is also a companion booklet containing 14 student research papers examining Maryland’s role during World War II from various aspects. Topics include: Maryland’s prisoner of war camps, the Glenn L. Martin Company, Aberdeen Proving Ground, civil rights activism in wartime Baltimore, and more. The booklet also contains an introduction to the project, photographs, and short biographies of the student interviewers.

To make a request to view transcripts or other materials from the Doris M. Johnson Project please contact the Special Collections Department at specialcollections@mdhs.org, or speak to the Special Collections Librarian at the desk in the library.

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