On December 8, 1941 -- one day after the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor -- frightened and angry citizens all across the United States gathered around their radios to listen to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt call for "the unbounded determination of our people" in gaining "inevitable triumph" over the Axis powers. America was again at war. The Nazi onslaught had overrun most of Europe and now threatened the British Isles. The threat of new Japanese attacks menaced the American West Coast. It was a dark hour when only the war fires of fascism seemed to burn brightly.
Yet, Americans around the country answered Roosevelt's call for "unbounded determination." Men and women, the rich and the poor, the rural and the urban made sacrifices and joined the war effort. On the home front, factories turned out the arms and goods needed by the Allied war machine. Families grew Victory Gardens, followed tight rationing, and scanned the skies for enemy planes. On the front lines, soldiers faced brutal warfare in Italian mountains, African deserts, and Pacific jungles. Young men--sometimes still in their teens--often got a sobering first taste of life beyond the farm or the city.
Scottsville, located in Virginia's Piedmont region, was in many ways similar to thousands of other American small towns in the early 1940's. Along with the surrounding locales of rural Southern Albemarle, they sent at least eighty-three young men and women to serve in World War II. The citizens that remained showed ingenuity and determination. They ran farms, worked at factories, and diligently corresponded with loved ones at the front.
Over the past three years, the Scottsville Museum and the University of Virginia's Institute for Public History have attempted to record Southern Albemarle County's involvement in World War II. We have gathered photographs, letters, and, perhaps most importantly, interviews with surviving veterans and home front citizens. This web archive presents those findings. The aim is to provide as complete a picture of one rural southern community's experiences in World War II as possible. In many ways, Southern Albemarle is a microcosm of the American war experience, illustrating the intricate relationships between small town life and the world-changing campaigns in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Thus, we chose "Small Town, Big War" as the title of our project. In other ways, though, these are the intimate stories of unique individuals from a distinctive area. We at the Scottsville Museum hope that this web archive is a fitting tribute to their sacrifices and accomplishments.
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