On Your Field Trip: World War II

World War II

Using Play the Past iPods, students explore the exhibit and pursue quests in four main locations.

Iron Mine Sod House Fur Trading Post Tipi

  • Overview
  • Artifacts
  • Standards
  • Additional Information

Dog Tags

Men and women in the U.S. military wore these identification tags. Their nickname was "dog tags," because the tags reminded people of the ID tags they put on their dogs. Dog tags were important for soldiers in battle. If someone got hurt or even killed, they could be identified by the dog tags. Their family could know what happened to them.

Japanese Flag

This flag belonged to a Japanese soldier in World War II, perhaps to remind him of the country he was fighting for. It was brought back to the United States by Hazel Turk. She was the nurse who gave this Japanese soldier medical attention before he died. She believed everyone deserved humane treatment no matter what side of the war they fought for. "He's somebody's son, too," Hazel said.


Ammunition is a word for the objects that are shot from weapons. These are bullets from World War II, along with a canvas pouch to carry them. The metal box is where the ammunition would be stored.

Blue Star Flag

Blue Star flags show how many members of a family are in military service. Families at home hung them in their windows. There's one star for each family member in the Service. If the person dies in the war, family members sew a gold star over the blue one.

Boxes of Ammo

The Twin Cities Ordnance Plant made ammo of all kinds. They sent it to the soldiers fighting in Europe and Asia. From 1942 to 1945, 47 million rounds of ammunition was made in the United States.


Ammo is short for ammunition, which means bullets. The Twin Cities Ordnance Plant (TCOP) made ammo of all kinds. They sent it to the soldiers fighting in Europe and Asia. Many women worked in ammunition plants like TCOP. They thought making bullets for soldiers was a good way to help their sons, husbands, and fathers who had gone off to war.


Medical researchers used calipers to measure the effects of starvation on the body. At the end of the war, many people in Europe and Asia did not have enough food to eat. The researchers hoped to find the best way to help them. In 1944-45, doctors worked with volunteers on a Starvation Study. The volunteers were all Conscientious Objectors (COs). That means they chose not to fight because they believed war was morally wrong.


This canteen includes a water bottle and cup. It was important to make it small and easy to carry. That's why the cup and bottle fit together perfectly. Soldiers never knew if they'd have much access to water when they went into a battle.


A K-Ration was food for one day for one soldier. The food in a K-Ration needed to be non-perishable (meaning it wouldn't go bad). It had to be small enough to fit in a soldier's pocket. K-rations often included foods like canned meat, biscuits, and chewing gum. Many food industries worked on ways to make food last longer on the battlefield. These methods became common at home after the war.


Typewriters like these were used in the 1930s and 40s. Imagine how hard it was to fix typing mistakes! People on the homefront wrote many letters during World War II to their loved ones in the Service.

Japanese-English Dictionary

This Japanese-English dictionary was used during World War II. Minnesota was the home to the Military Intelligence Service Language School at Fort Snelling. U.S. soldiers were trained to translate messages from Japanese to English there. Most of the trainees were Japanese Americans. After training, they were sent to the Pacific to serve.

Flight Suit

This jacket was worn by Virginia Mae Hope. She was a Women's Air Force Service Pilot, or WASP. WASPs all had flying experience before entering service. They flew airplanes in non-combat missions. Many WASPs also taught new male soldiers how to fly and flew every kind of type of military plane. Virginia died in a plane crash in 1944, at age 23.

Poster - Bonds

Bonds were small loans American people made to the US government to help pay for the war. Americans would buy a "bond" and then wait until the end of the war. After 10 years, they could turn it in to the government and get their money back. War stamps were like mini-bonds, for those who couldn't afford to buy a whole bond at once.

Poster - Grow

Rations were limits on how much food you could buy. The purpose was to make sure there was enough food to send to the soldiers. People made "Victory Gardens" to grow their own food to add to their rations.

Poster - Guide

With men gone off to war, it was up to women to protect their families at home and their men overseas. That meant making sure nothing went to waste. They saved food. They donated metal, rubber, and other materials to factories. Those factories turned that "junk" into the tools of war.

Poster - Proud

Canning was a process of saving food and keeping it from going bad. Women at home were encouraged to can their food so nothing went to waste. They canned foods like peaches, tomatoes and beans.

Poster - Railroad

The war effort always came first. Americans were encouraged to travel less. This way the railroads would be clear for transporting war goods quickly. They were also encouraged to travel less by car to save gasoline.

Poster - Wheat

Soldiers fighting overseas needed good food to fight well. Having "Meatless Mondays" and "Wheatless Wednesdays" at home was important. It was up to homefront Americans to make sure there was enough food to send to soldiers.

Pounds of Scrap Metal

Your class collected this many pounds of scrap metal for the war effort.

Armored Truck M8

The M8 was like a regular truck, but it had metal armor to protect it. Soldiers used it to gather information needed for planning attacks. The big turret on the top is a machine gun. It was used to protect the soldiers inside the truck.

E Award Pin

The E pin was for people working in wartime factories. This pin was awarded to Pearl Summers Olafson. She made ammunition at the Twin Cities Ordnance Plant. Without bullets like the ones Pearl made, the soldiers couldn't fight! During the war, more than 60% of the plant's employees were women.

Pilot ID

This ID belonged to Hazel Turk of the 801st Squadron. She was an Evacuation Flight Nurse. She flew in C-47s bringing materials, mail, and other things to combat areas. Then, she and her crew would fly out with wounded men and bring them to the hospital.

Poster - Victory

Americans collected scraps to make tools needed for the war. For example, scrap metal was used to make bullets, airplanes, and more. Mining for new metals or harvesting new rubber took too much time and money. Collecting scrap was faster and cheaper.