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Nancy Thompson World War II Scrapbook Project

“It is the story of the war itself, and of how these men and women came back to our country’s children to teach the meaning of freedom,” wrote Nancy Thompson, the Newark State Teachers College Librarian from 1914 to 1957, in describing her collection of more than 800 letters written by former Newark State Teachers College students during World War II.  Collected as a scrapbook, the correspondence documents the lives and experiences of these men and women in all theaters of the war from its beginning through the surrender of Germany and Japan.  The scrapbook bears witness to the many American—New Jersey—men who volunteered and were drafted into military service.  But it also offers a window into the many changes occurring on the home front, and more specifically on American college campuses during wartime and the many changes occurring in women’s lives because of it.  

The contents and scrapbook have been studied by student members of the Department of History Honors Program.  Students scanned and transcribed the letters and have constructed  a website that shares the contents the letters and allows readers to map the NSTC students and alumni as World War II took them around the United States and the world.

The website (, allows you to read their letters, map their movements, and understand the impact of World War II on their lives.  The website also contains lesson plans for using the letters in P-12 classrooms.

The Newark State Teachers College WWII Letter Collection

Kean University Students Present Research to the 2015 Union County Republican Convention