Date of Award


Degree Name

MA in History




George Cotkin


This paper is an in-depth study on the role of Home Front Volunteerism in California during World War II. It argues that Volunteerism was integral to America’s eventual victory. This paper fills a gap in historical writings on World War II and shows that Volunteerism is a topic worthy of study. Volunteerism played a major role in California. It helped to keep morale high even when the war was progressing poorly. Volunteerism also helped to create new communities out of those shattered by the upheaval of the Great Depression. It provided a patriotic outlet for Americans desperate to aid the war effort. Minority groups took part in volunteer activities in order to show that they too were Americans and in doing so raised their status in society. Throughout the war, volunteers collected scrap metal which was melted down into weaponry. “Radishy victory gardens” sprung up throughout California. The Red Cross experienced an unprecedented surge in volunteerism and new methods in preservation and transportation of donated blood saved thousands of lives. The USO, created during the war, provided entertainment to soldiers both on the home front and overseas. Celebrities and civilians volunteered with the USO. This paper discusses many other ways in which Californian’s volunteered. Each volunteer activity provided an outlet for Americans desperate to aid the war effort in any way that they could.