A little home-front spy trouble.
The many older books can be located in second-hand book stores, reference libraries via ILL (Inter-Library Loan), or by book finders, like that at Barnes and Noble or Alibris or Amazon. Of course, you know to read magazines and newspapers of the time to pick up the period flavour and concerns.
Don't You Know There's a War On? The American Home Front, 1941-1945 by Richard Lingeman, though The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 1944 was a close runner-up.
1) history outline
2) everyday life, general
3) General transportation
4) General costume
5) Specific transportation
8) Self-entertainments, like card games,
lawn games, and children's games.
9) Food and dining, including what sort
of public dining was available.
11) Marriage and family
12) Specific costume, for your demi-decade
13) A book on the religion(s) dominant in the time and place, as practiced then, not the current version.
14) A fat history book of the area and
15) A history of the most influential country
at the time (country A).
16) A history of its rival (country B).
17) A biography of the leader of country
18) A biography of the leader of country B.
19) A history of the country you are setting
20) A history of the country you are setting
in, that era.
21) A biography of the leader of the country
of your setting.
22) An everyday life for the commoner of
your time and place.
23) An everyday life for the upper classes
of your time and place.
24) An everyday life for the middle class
of your time and place.
25) An everyday life for the women of your time and place
26) An auto/biography of someone like your protagonist, or a book as much as possible focused on people like that.
27) A book on houses and furnishings of the period.
28) A book about courting, romance, and
sex of the time.
29) A source of period names.
30) Period Medicine.
32) The WPA Guide to New Jersey. 1939
33) Espionage: Singer, Kurt Spies and Traitors of World War II 1945 Prentice-Hall, NY.
34) Aircraft: Yenne, Bill The World's Worst Aircraft, 1990 Dorset Press, Marboro Books Corp, NY, because the Brewster Buffalo has a scene in this.
35) Aircraft: Smith, J. R. & Antony L. Kay; German Aircraft of the Second World War; 1972; The Nautical & Aviation Publishing Co. of America, Baltimore, MD
36) Romance: Morris, Hugh; The Art of Kissing, 1936, 1977; Doubleday Dolphin, NY reprint, which is kind of dopey and sophmoric.
37) Espionage: Fermi, Laura; Illustrious Immigrants: The Intellectual Migration from Europe, 1930-1941; University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2nd ed. 1971; A precise but emminently readable story of the efforts of American academics to rescue their fellows from the Nazi regime, giving valuable background on what their lives had been like in Europe, and what they faced in the New World. The bulk is given over to following the continuing success of these figures (and the occasional failure) and the effect they had on American arts and sciences by being here.
38) Military: The Military Service Publishing Company; The Officer's Guide; Harrisburg, PN, 9th ed. 1943; If you want to present an Army officer and you haven't been one, or weren't in the right branch of service, this is great. It covers the National Guard as well, with organization of the Army, the command structure, what you wear, with whom you serve, your first station, your last will and testament, ad infinitum. Mercifully written before gobbledegook, in a clear and simple format, which is neither flowery nor dull. The 1941 8th ed. misses all the 1942 changes, and so you need to stick to one very close to your year. Actually, if you are an Army officer, you still need this to lose all the late 20th C. changes. Frequently, the bookstores do not stock any old versions, but Alibris.com is better than Amazon.com for this. Best of all may be eBay, or a general Google search.
39) Military: Shea, Nancy; The Army Wife, What She Ought to Know About the Customs of the Service and the Management of an Army Household; Harper and Brothers, NY, 1941 revised edition; Put together to meet the needs of women who suddenly found their husands in the army, on the bones of a book for girls marrying cadets or other men already in, Shea tells what to expect in almost any situation.
40) Champagne Living: Alpern, Andrew; New York's Fabulous Luxury Apartments with Original Floor Plans from the Dakota, River House, Olympic Tower and Other Great Buildings; 1975, McGraw-Hill, NY, as Apartments for the Affluent: A Historical Survey of Buildings in New York; Dover, NY; 1987.
41) Everyday Life: Goodrum, Charles & Helen Dalrymple; Advertising in America: The First 200 Years; 1990; Harry N. Abrams, Inc. NY
42) Cussing: Because someone might do it seriously. Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing by Melissa Mohr, Oxford University Press, 2013.
43) Medical: Since then, I would add The Modern Home Physician, A New Encyclopedia of Medical Knowledge, Illustrated with Two Hundred and Thirty-Two Photographs and Nearly Seven Hundred Drawings Made Expressly for This Work, edited by Victor Robinson (Wm. H. Wise & Co., 1938). This is even better for correcting my ideas of period medicine, as in, due to the lack of antibiotics, lead and mercury are still in common use, external and internal, and that dual personality is considered a form of epilepsy (not that I needed it, but it's part of what I need to learn).
44) Current Events: This is something the characters would read and discuss: Alexander Procofieff de Seversky, Maj., Victory through Air Power. Seversky had his ideas right about air cap being important, but you can't hold territory without putting an army of occupation down. His concepts of planes able to bomb halfway across the world could be said to prefigure the B52, but his idea that fighter pilots could stay in their seats for a trip between North America and Australia and back ignores human limitations of inaction.
45) Background: Dönhoff, Countess, Marion, trans by Jean Steinberg; Before the Storm: Memories of My Youth in Old Prussia; 1988, 1990; Alfred A. Knopf, NY. You have to remember that your characters are not created in the year you use them. The Countess here represents the generation of my second lead, born during the First World War.
46) Dress: Henry, Mark; The US Navy in World War II; Osprey Elite, 2002; 64 pages; Illustrated by Ramiro Bujeiro. While being a uniform book, it also strikes on two areas often completely slighted: women and blacks in the Navy, and the appearance of the Coast Guard, for the war transferred from Dept. of Transportation to Dept. of the Navy. gives a light overview of operations and jobs.
47) Recent History: Frank Capra made, for the government, a series of films called Why We Fight. This was shown to service inductees, to explain to them how and why America wound up in a world war. It's the general period view, maybe a bit better educated than the man in the street.
48) Everyday Life: Crowther, Bruce & Mike Pinfold; The Big Band Years, 1988 Facts on File, NY.
49) Everyday Life: Simon, George T., compiler. The Big Bands Songbook, 1975 Barnes & Noble, NY.
50) Music & Radio: What's on the radio? Check Live365 for Cladrite Radio. Their logo says music of the 20's, 30's & 40's, but there's only an occasional batch of post-War stuff. "Rat Patrol Radio" on Live 365 may actually suit this better. Tons of the music of the time is available, and if you don't check dates you can wind up thinking your characters are listening to the wrong stuff. This is The Swing Age, not yet The Cool Jazz Age, yet some oldies from The Hot Jazz Age will be heard. In fact, music is so defining in this century I wound up naming the non-zero-end eras based on it. I recommend Glenn Miller as a basis, as he only broke big right before the war, and died during it. In fact, one of the best is Glenn Miller Live!, a 4CD set from Reader's Digest. I also used a CD of V-disc recordings of him leading the Army Air Force Band.
|If you need something else for your particular story around this time, maybe Historical Novelists Center can help with their Swing Age pages.|