In This Exhibition
Three years before the United States entered World War II, President Roosevelt declared the South to be "the nation's number one economic problem." Georgia's economy was distinctly agricultural and low-wage, with little manufacturing compared with states in the North and Midwest. The median family income was nearly half of the national average. One year later, an influx of federal defense money established new industries, such as the Bell Aircraft plant in Marietta, and expanded existing ones, such as the J. A. Jones Construction Company in Brunswick. While 320,000 Georgians served in the United States Armed Forces, tens of thousands of Georgians repaired aircraft, built B-29 bombers, and worked in shipyards at home during the war.
Meanwhile, military training was widespread throughout Georgia, occupying its fields as well as skies. Capitalizing on the state's flat coastal region and mild winters, Army airfields were installed in Savannah, Statesboro, Thomasville, and Waycross, and pilots trained in Albany, Augusta, Americus, and Douglas. Thousands of soldiers passed through Fort Benning and Fort Oglethorpe, where members of the Women's Army Corps trained for positions at home and abroad.
World War II employment was crucial to the economic development of the state, ushering in the transformation to a modern, industrial, and diverse Georgia.
Credit: This exhibition was created as part of the DPLA's Public Library Partnerships Project by collaborators from the Digital Library of Georgia and Georgia's public libraries. Exhibition organizers: Mandy Mastrovita and Greer Martin.