Prom Season in Wartime
Despite war time shortages due to rationing as well as the oftentimes daily reminders that their country was engaged in an all-out, global war, many of the traditions of student life endured through the years between 1941 and 1945, including that all-important milestone of high school life: the annual spring prom. Much as with proms or formals today, students 70 years ago put on their fancy best for a night of excitement, dancing and fun. However, no sector of American life was free from the inescapable influence of the War, not even the high school prom. Many schools adopted patriotic or “Victory” motifs as the themes to their prom courts and dances. Others used the event of the prom as a fund-raising or war bond-selling opportunity for the war effort. Also, at the same time when the country was united in support of millions of troops serving across six continents, some American students found themselves attending separate and racially segregated prom celebrations, some even taking place behind the barbed wire of the ten Japanese-American internment camps.
See You Next Year – High School Yearbooks from WWII documents student life during the war years, presenting full-page images from high school yearbooks collected from across the United States. These snapshots represent a select handful of images that can be found in over 30 of the yearbooks featured within the See You Next Year project. Whether you attended your first high school prom this year or many years ago, these images show that the optimistic spirit of youth never changes, even if the hair styles, fashion choices and societal challenges do.
This post by Collin Makamson, Student Programs Coordinator @ The National WWII Museum