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Florida During World War II

Woman welding for the Saint Johns River Shipbuilding Company: Jacksonville, Florida

The United States’ efforts during World War II drew heavily on both the people and resources of the state of Florida.

Over 250,000 Floridians volunteered or were drafted into the armed forces. Dozens of military bases were established or expanded in the state and personnel flooded into Florida by the thousands. Many soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who trained or served in Florida later returned to the state as retirees and helped fuel the postwar economic boom.

Agriculture was Florida’s primary economic contribution to the war effort. Wages improved and jobs became plentiful due to the large number of men in the armed services. Women, African-Americans, and other ethnic minorities made small but significant inroads into professions previously dominated by white males. African-Americans worked toward the “Double V” campaign of victory abroad against fascism and victory at home against racial prejudice.

Soldiers training for war: Camp Gordon Johnston, Florida

World War II served as the catalyst for Florida’s explosive postwar economic and demographic growth. These changes were reflected in the state’s population, which grew 46.1% during the decade of the 1940s and expanded at an even more rapid pace in the 1950s.

This unit uses primary sources from the collections of the State Library and Archives of Florida to introduce major themes, events, and individuals related to Florida’s role in World War II.