World War II

WWI was supposed to be the war to end all wars, but its peace did not prove lasting. WWII would live up to its name, with conflict spreading across Europe, war in China, war in Africa and in the Pacific. In its aftermath, two great superpowers would appear: the United States and the Soviet Union. WWII also hastened independence movements in Asia and Africa, leading to the end of the age of European domination in the Third World. Indeed, the changes wrought by WWII were so great that any scholar seriously interested in the period must make a concerted effort to narrow his or her topic. You might start by finding an entry in a good print encyclopedia or by reading a short, general book on the topic. This will give you an overview of the subject and help you to refine your search. 

Check out the starting your research project page before you begin!  

Some suggestions are:
Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entrance into WWII
the U.S. homefront
The Battle of Britain
The invasion of Normandy
The Marshall Plan

If you are interested in the Holocaust , check the BCDS topic guide for that subject.

We can't fit every resource about World War II on to this list! A topic guide is just the beginning of building your bibliography.

Reference materials

This is the place to start any research project. Reference books offer short, authoritative information on every topic. These books must be used in the library. Most contain bibliographies of important books on your topic. A good first stop would be any of the standard print encyclopedias in the Beaver collection: Encyclopedia Americana, World Book or Britannica.


Bondi, Victor, ed. (1995). American decades : 1940-1949. REF 973.918 Am3
Gale Group. (2001). History behind the headlines : the origins of conflicts worldwide. REF 909 H62 2001
Parrish, Thomas, ed. (1978). The Simon and Schuster encyclopedia of World War II. REF 940.5303 Si4
Salmaggi, Cesare. (1988). 2194 days of war : an illustrated chronology of the second world war. REF 940.54 T93


Britannica Online Great for pre-search and primary sources, including speeches, essays, biographies, editorials and photos.
Gale Virtual Reference Library
General Reference Center Gold


Books about WWII will ususally be found around 940.5. Use the subject heading World War, 1939-1945 when searching the library catalog. Biographies can be found at 921, listed alphabetically by the subject's last name (for example, a biography of Hirohito, the emperor of Japan during the war, would carry the call number: 921 Hirohito).

Ambrose, Stephen E. (2001). The good fight : how World War II was won. 940.53 Am1 2001 96 pages.
Anthony, Nathan. (2001). The bombing of Pearl Harbor in American history . 940.5426 An8 2001 104 pages.
Ng, Wendy L. (2002). Japanese American internment during World War II : a history and reference guide. 940.53 N49 2002 204 pages.
Takaki, Ronald T. (2001). Double victory : a multicultural history of America in World War II. 940.53 T13 2001 281 pages.


WWII has been the subject of many great films and documentaries. These are some in the BCDS collection:
Battle for North Africa. DVD 940.54 B31 2006
Casablanca. DVD FIC CASA
The war : In extraordinary time, there are no ordinary lives (1941-1945). DVD 940.54 W195bu 2007 A 6 disc series directed and produced by Ken Burns.


For these Gale Group Resources, use the subject term: World War II, 1939-1945. You can also search for more specific topics: try North Africa Campaign, 1940-1942 or Allied Occupation (World War II)
General OneFile
Expanded Academic ASAP
Student Edition
Academic OneFile
Biography Resource Center For information on famous people associated with WWII. Search by the person's last name.
SIRS Copy this subject heading: World War (1939-1945) and paste it into the search field. You also try more specific subject headings, such as V-E Day (May 8, 1945)
Facts on File For pre-search, biographies, primary sources and images.

Internet sites

Library of Congress A guide to materials in the American Memory Historical Collections: photographs, maps, interviews with ordinary people after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, authoritative links to other sites.
National Archives Search through photographs of African-Americans during WWII, captured Nazi recordings, Japanese American internment records, to name just a few of the many resources found here.
National WWII Museum Check out the permanent exhibits, look for the special "for students" section under Education, pull down the WWII History menu.
World War II timeline More than a timeline, this University of San Diego site features hundreds of links, maps, photos and primary documents.

BPL: Electronic Resources

History Study Center This resource was designed just for students! Start here to learn more about WWII, see a timeline of important events, learn about key people and places. An excellent starting point for your research.
History Resource Center: U.S.. A good starting point for pre-search and fact-checking as well as more advanced searches. Use the subject search United States Civil War, 1861-1865. This site will also let you limit your searches to reference, biographies, periodicals, news, primary sources or maps and multi-media.
America: History and Life. This database indexes scholarly and popular articles on American history. You can limit your search to full text if you want articles instead of citations.

Updated, 9-09