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High School During WWII Through the Eyes of America’s Youth

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“Today in the war emergency, our education is more important than ever.” So begins a student editorial from the Isidore Newman School’s Class of 1942 yearbook. Like most students throughout the country, the graduating class of this prestigious New Orleans school was struggling to figure out its place in a fast-changing world in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. “Winning the war,” wrote yearbook Editor-in-Chief (and current Museum volunteer) Tommy Godchaux, “takes precedence over almost everything at this time. None begrudge this fact, although ambitions may be smashed.”

Yearbooks like those in the Museum’s online collection, See You Next Year, highlight the sacrifices that America’s youth made in order to help win the war, delaying or outright forgoing plans to go to college, enter the workforce or start families. Peppered throughout the senior portraits, team photos and superlatives declaring who is Most Likely to Succeed are In Memoriam pages dedicated to those students, faculty and alumni who gave their lives, emphasizing both the magnitude of the war as well as the potential that was lost in the deaths of these men and women.

These yearbooks offer a perspective on a world in upheaval that is both rich and uniquely personal, and present a new opportunity to experience the many challenges, setbacks and triumphs of the war through the eyes of America’s youth.

Visit See You Next Year: High School Yearbooks from WWII to view more yearbooks, watch oral histories and find out how you can help us expand the collection.

Mark your calendars! Join us at the Museum Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 12pm for our Lunchbox Lecture series to hear more about high school during World War II and get an up-close look at some of these yearbooks.

Posted by Gemma Birnbaum, Digital Education Coordinator at The National WWII Museum.

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