California Council for the Humanities California Stories Initiative

"Years of Valor, Years of Hope: Tulare County and the Years 1941-1946"

Funded by the California Council for the Humanities, the Tulare County Library, the Friends of the Tulare County Library & the Tulare County Historical Society


knitting for the war effort
Marjorie (Achterberg) Coghill, on far right, and women knitting for the war effort here in Visalia in 1942 or 1943.

Photo donated by Marjorie Coghill

A school bus zigzagging on Highway 99--watchtowers--sharing with neighbors--Japanese-Americans uprooted and sent to internment camps--curtailment of car travel--making do with old tractors and cars--listening to news on the radio--rationing--Braceros--worrying about family members overseas--Victory Gardens--airmen learning how to fly at Rankin and Sequoia Airfields and how this affected at least one farm in Tulare County--prejudices during those years (including prejudice and rules against African-Americans in the Deep South, which was new to the people from this county who were there)--entertainment for the people during those years--overseas military stories.....

From the years 2003 to 2004, 104 Tulare County citizens were interviewed regarding their experiences during the World War II era. The topics listed above were all discussed when the interviewees were asked to recount their experiences in Tulare County during the years spanning from 1941 to 1946, and how that era impacted their lives and Tulare County as a whole. These interviews were conducted by 20 people who were taught how to take an oral history, and from 2003 to 2006 the interviews were transcribed into text form.*


December 7, 1941

I remember
the breathtaking news
thundering across our town.
The source came
from the old radio,
haunting enough
without the words
designed to change our lives,
giving us agony of not knowing
what the days ahead would bring.
air raids,
marching feet,
blue stars
changed to gold.
I remember
where I was,
who I was.
The memory stays:
It is mine.


(written by Phyllis Holman Parker, Visalia, 2005)


Interviews are grouped alphabetically by the interviewee's last name in the following 5 sections. Please click on an alpha-range link below to access an annotated list of interviews contained in each section.


Mildred Switzer standing in front of a billboard listing men and women from Tulare County who were serving overseas. This billboard was maintained by Mada's father and was erected in front of the Visalia post office at the corner of Court & Acequia. (See page 4 of her transcript for a discussion of this billboard).

Photo provided by Mada Talbot

A watchtower set up at the McKellar Ranch east of Ivanhoe. Those manning the post this day were Robert McKellar, his mother Vernice McKellar, Mattie Bly and Noreen McKellar.

Photo provided by Ruby Fife 

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*Hard copies of these interviews--and the original tapes and tape recorders--are available for review at the Annie Mitchell History Room at the Visalia Library. Hard copies of the interviews are also available at the Tulare County Historical Museum, the Tulare Historical Museum in the city of Tulare, the Porterville City Library History Room and at the Fresno County Historical Society headquarters in Fresno County.

This project was directed by Judith Wood, Reference Librarian at the Visalia Public Library. She was assisted by 20 oral history interviewers and three transcribers, as well as an advisory committee made up of members of the Tulare County Historical Society; Newell Bringhurst, History Professor at the College of the Sequoias; John Dachawich, a retired Sociology Professor from Fresno State University; Ellen Gorelick, Director of the Tulare Historical Museum; Kathy McGowan, Director of the Tulare County Historical Museum; Margaret Allen, President of the Friends of the Tulare County Library, and Tammy Jordan, Reference Librarian and head of the Annie Mitchell History Room.

This page was last updated on July 16, 2013. Copyright © 2000-2005. Tulare County Library.