Harmful Content Statement
The American Soldier in World War II provides access to rarely viewed uncensored reflections on war and military service that US military personnel composed during the conflict and with the promise of anonymity. As such, this site captures a wide and unfettered range of US servicemembers’ experiences, beliefs, and viewpoints.
We present these materials as historical records, which we are committed to preserving and making available in order to encourage and facilitate historical research, awareness, reflection, and discussion. While we have updated their format and presentation to ensure long-term preservation, accessibility, and equitable dissemination, we have left them uncensored and as unexpurgated and unedited as possible. This decision aligns with the core values and code of ethics of the Society of American Archivists.
Users are advised that the digital archive contains descriptions of violence, injury, disease, mental distress, and other trauma. These may include accounts, often firsthand, of physical abuse, martial discipline, combat, and encounters with war refugees, camp inmates, prisoners of war, combatants, and non-combatants who sustained injuries and trauma. Some readers may find these descriptions and accounts dangerous or harmful.
Users also may encounter content that is insensitive, obscene, harmful, or otherwise offensive or objectionable. Such content may include expressions of racist, xenophobic, antisemitic, misogynistic, as well as other derogatory attitudes toward women, non-conforming identities, marginalized or minority communities, and non-US persons or nationalities. In addition, users will encounter terms and monikers that were not usually considered inappropriate or offensive at the time but that are widely considered so today.
Our commitment to upholding the principle of equal, free access to unaltered historical records and datasets does not, in any way, convey or suggest endorsement of attitudes, prejudices, or behaviors depicted within the digital archive.
Terms used in association with Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) deserve particular attention. In the 1940s the term “Negro” was used frequently in a non-pejorative sense and was the preferred term of the Research Branch. Conforming to a widespread practice, the branch classified survey respondents as either Negro or White, reserving the former for people of Black African descent and using “white” as a catchall for all "non-Negro" ethnic or racial groups, including those identified today as people of color. At the same time, respondents classified as Negro used and even championed this and analogous appellations like “colored” to describe their personal and community identity, while also extending solidarity with other people of color and Black people abroad.
We retain the use of Negro, enlisted men, and other identity terms where they appear in the historical records and datasets, but when not constrained by fidelity to historicity, we use Black and prefer gender-neutral titles, such as enlisted personnel.
A final word regarding capitalization. The capitalizing of Black has become more commonplace though is by no means universal. Calls for racial justice and social equity have led to the capitalization of White as well, in recognition of a majoritarian identity and ideology.1 When not citing, quoting, or reproducing historical text, we have elected to capitalize both labels.
- On capitalizing both, see, for instance, Nell Irvin Painter, "Why ‘White’ should be capitalized, too," Washington Post, July 22, 2020; National Association of Black Journalists, "NABJ Statement on Capitalizing Black and Other Racial Identifiers," June 2020; MacArthur Foundation, "Capitalizing Black and White: Grammatical Justice and Equity," August 26, 2020; and University of Chicago Press Editorial Staff, "Black and White: A Matter of Capitalization," CMOS Shop Talk, June 22, 2020.