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Digital Archive

During the last year the Center has undergone a bit of a makeover. Thanks to funds awarded by the Office of Research here at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, we were able to purchase new digital equipment. Sleek hard drives have replaced old floppy disks and stacks of CDs, tiny digital recorders have eliminated the need for clunky records and tapes, and new computers and a new digital scanner are further proof that the Center operates in the twenty-first century.

As a result of these exciting changes, the Center has also begun work on a new project, a digital archive which we plan to call “Friends and Foes.” Using primary, historical materials from the World War II collections housed in the Special Collections section of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville University Libraries, such as those shown in the slideshow above, we plan to build a digital archive that captures and examines one particular aspect of war: the image of the enemy in an age of total war.

With the rise of industrialization and nationalism, modern states increasingly viewed civilian populations as vital components of victory. The mobilization of factory and agricultural workers provided the resources that could tip the balance of a campaign. Likewise, popular opinion and public morale had to be maintained, lest unrest disrupt supply lines and the war effort. World War I, due to its lengthy duration, underscored the need to muster civilian populations and the experiences of this conflict led to a new military doctrine known as “Total War.” This concept sought to collapse distinctions between the home and fighting fronts, and harness, or, in the case of enemy countries, destroy the energies of the home front.

But, as the historical materials attest, the image of the “enemy” was by no means uniform or static. At times, a particular G.I. might cuss the weather, a lack of food, a hard-headed commander, or even boredom more than soldiers of the opposing army. Likewise, the image of the “enemy” was often in flux, and soldiers had to readjust their perspectives as the war and other international events unfolded. On the homefront, too, there were many “enemies,” such as garden pests, wastefulness, inefficiency, and more. Our hope is that this project will strengthen the Center’s commitment to preservation, public history, and education by offering an open, accessible, and state-of-the-art digital archive dedicated to an important theme in the troubled history of the twentieth century.

For more information about the project, including how you can contribute funds or materials, please contact us via email at csws@utk.edu, or by telephone at (865) 974-0128.

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