Throughout history people have fought wars for control over land and resources. They have also fought to defend their homes and freedom, for an ideal, or for political gain. Regardless of the reasons, wars have had a huge impact on American society.
The people who lived through these wars recorded their individual experiences through letters, diaries, photographs, video, and stories told over and over again. Together, these stories speak to the transformative effect of war on individuals – at times eye-opening and horrific, as well as inspiring. These personal experiences provide a glimpse of the service and sacrifice required during wartime, both abroad and on the home front.
Many of these stories can be found in the collections of the Minnesota Digital Library (MDL). MDL has highlighted a selection of them in a six-part online exhibit series titled “War Stories.” These exhibits include many stories of Minnesotans who experienced war, from the Civil War to the Vietnam War. All six online exhibits can be found on MDL’s Exhibits page. You can also go directly to them using these links:
- Civil War: Discover how Minnesotans proved their worth to the country by fighting in the Civil War.
- Spanish-American War: Explore the words and images of Minnesotans who participated in this international conflict.
- World War I: Witness the service and sacrifice of Minnesotans who lived through the Great War.
- World War II: Meet some Minnesotans who joined the world in a fight against oppression and tyranny.
- Korean War: Experience the “Forgotten War” through the words and views of Minnesota veterans.
- Vietnam War: Learn about the consequences of a long war fought far from home against Communism.
Some of these exhibits contain only a fraction of the materials available on MDL from each war. But others – particularly the Korean and Vietnam War exhibits – include nearly everything we have. Like many events in recent history, these wars are not always well preserved in many archives or historical collections. We encourage you to browse or search MDL to see what is available, and if your organization has something to contribute related to these wars, please contact us!