Broad studies of war and society show that political, economic, and social changes are accelerated in times of war. This thesis explores those themes on a localized scale by studying the effect of three wars on the history of Atlanta, Georgia. The longitudinal approach of examining Atlanta during the Civil War, World War I, and World War II highlights the cumulative effect of these changes. The Civil War provided the foundation of Atlanta's economic growth and importance to regional transportation due to Atlanta's position as a primary supplier of war material to the Confederacy, though few social changes occurred. The brief duration of World War I did not foster widespread social shifts, but the experiences of the city and its citizens planted seeds for significant future change. The massive war effort brought about by World War II, and its comparatively long duration, meant that all the changes that occurred since 1861 were brought to full fruition during the war but especially in the postwar years. Massive economic growth, an increasing military presence, new opportunities for women and minorities as a result of expanded production, and the breaking of social barriers made Atlanta, by 1946, a city of national importance. This thesis also uses this localized study as a building block to outline larger themes of wartime changes. Brief comparisons between the development in wartime of Atlanta, Richmond, and New Orleans illustrate that the trends shown in Atlanta are not local phenomena, but provide an illustrative insight into broader regional and national trends.
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Jennifer Lund Smith, Richard W. Byers, Eugene Van Sickle
- Date submitted
18 July 2022