World War I and II Primary Source Set

Educator Resources

About Utah and the World Wars

World War I and World War II impacted many people throughout Utah. Utah servicemen in WWI filled out questionnaires regarding their service and these documents still provide great insight into their experiences in both training, combat, and their lives at home. In WWII, men and women served in the war at home and overseas. Both wars also brought about a lot of social change. Women entered the workforce at higher rates and African Americans sought greater racial equality with the Double V Campaign. During WWI, Fort Douglas in Utah trained thousands of military recruits and held hundreds of pro-German prisoners of war. As wartime demanded more resources, Utah’s economy also boomed with the demands for more goods like sugar, beef, and copper. National debates surrounding the League of Nations, international ones regarding the peace treaty, and local issues like loss of people due to the war all contributed to the history of both World Wars.

Powell, Allen Kent. “World War I in Utah.” Utah History Encyclopedia.

Newspaper photograph of submarine from early 20th century "U.S.S. Savannah, Flagship Division Eight, Third Submarine Flotilla, Atlantic Fleet"
Image: State Historical Society World War I service questionnaires, Series 85298, Photograph of U.S.S. Savannah, Utah State Archives and Records Service.

Resources for Historical Context

Elementary School Students

Secondary School Students

Discussion Questions

After reading through these primary sources, discuss these questions in groups to better understand the history of the Utah and the World Wars.

Elementary School Students

  1. How did the World Wars change life in Utah?
  2. What were the lives of many Utah service people like?
  3. Why were Japanese Americans forced into internment camps? Were there any camps in Utah?

Secondary School Students

  1. Why did some people voluntarily enlist in the military during these wars?
  2. How were traditional gender roles altered during World Wars I and II?
  3. Why was Japanese American internment a violation of their rights?

Teaching and Learning

Tags: World Wars, Interwar Period, International History, Japanese American Internment

Utah Core State Standards for Social Studies

  • World History, Strand 6: Global Conflicts
  • Utah History, Strand 3: Utah in the Union
  • United States History II, Strand 6: Another Global Conflict
  • United States History II, Strand 3: America on the Global Stage
  • United States Government & Citizenship, Strand 5: The U.S. and our Relationship to the World

Written by Mariah Todd
Originally published in October 2020

Primary Source 1

Gold Star Mothers

Series 19959, Box 1 Folder 82

Description: The women listed here are deemed “Gold Star Mothers” because they lost a son in WWII.

Analysis Questions

  1. Why did the government label these women Gold Star Mothers when their sons died?
  2. What does this list show about Utah’s involvement in WWII?

Primary Source 2

Frank Zimmerman WWI Questionnaire

Series 85298, Reel 24

Description: Frank Zimmerman WWI Questionnaire

Analysis Questions

  1. What were some of the reasons why people volunteered for WWI?
  2. Where was Zimmerman trained before going overseas?

Primary Source 3

John Blundell

Series 85298, Reel 3

Description: WWI questionnaire from John Blundell.

Analysis Questions

  1. Why were some people drafted into WWI?
  2. Did all soldiers receive a lot of training?

Primary Source 4

Berne L. Woolley

Series 85298, Reel 24

Description: WWI questionnaire from Berne L. Woolley

Analysis Questions

  1. Why did Woolley join the military?
  2. What does Woolley’s position in the military show about recruitment for WWI?

Primary Source 5

Charles I. AndertonSeries 85298, Reel 1

Description: WWI questionnaire from Charles I. Anderton

Analysis Questions

  1. Why did some people volunteer for the war?
  2. How long was he in the war for?

Primary Source 6

Women’s Army Corps

Series 19959, Box 2 Folder 28

Description: These are facts and statistics about the WAC, or the Women’s Army Corps from WWII.

Analysis Questions

  1. Why was it significant that women were in the military during this time?
  2. What was the role of these women in the war?