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​Pearl Harbor and War in the Pacific

​In the early hours of December 7, 1941, Japan launched a major carrier-based air strike on Pearl Harbor Naval Base (west of Honolulu, Hawaii).  Approximately 200 Japanese aircraft in two waves conducted the raid which lasted just over two hours.  The same day (December 8 on the other side of the International Date Line), Japanese forces also launched attacks in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand and Malaya.

The attack crippled US Naval forces, leaving eight American battleships out of action.  However, American aircraft carriers were at sea and vital naval infrastructure (fuel oil tanks, shipyard facilities, and a power station), submarine base, and signals intelligence units were undamaged.

American opposition to the war vanished after the attack and the country found itself at war in the Pacific.  Four days after Pearl Harbor, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, drawing it into a second theater.  Below are some resources to help you begin your study of Pearl Harbor and War in the Pacific.


​Firsthand Accounts

The U.S. Navy's Naval History & Heritage Command website offers an extensive online photo collection, videos, transcripts of oral histories of Navy personnel who survived, and links to documents about the raid on Pearl Harbor.  The Library of Congress offers "Stories from the Veterans History Project."  Video accounts by 14 men and one woman who survived the attack provide recollections of a day when friends and comrades were lost and when war became a reality.

 

The U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor

National Geographic's "Remembering Pearl Harbor" provides a detailed timeline from 0342 hours on December 7 when an officer on the deck of the minesweeper Condor sights the telescope of a submerged submarine two miles off the entrance to Pearl Harbor to 1300 hours on December 8 when the U.S. Senate unanimously adopted a resolution declaring war on Japan.  Ten minutes later, the U.S. House of Representatives voted for war, 388 to 1.  The site also offers an Interactive Attack Map​, detailing the events leading up to the attack through the moments when the wounded began to fill hospitals, as well as a list of ships and planes at Pearl Harbor and a timeline for World War II.

 
"World War II Valor in the Pacific" by the National Park Service ​provides a comprehensive overview of Pearl Harbor including information on civilian and military causalities and survivors from the USS Arizona.  The site also offers access to PDF copies of The Pearl Harbor Messenger (published by the Naval Supply Depot of Pearl Harbor) and U.S. Navy Salvage War Diaries, first hand accounts by survivors, and stories about the lives of some of the survivors.​

 

​The Country Reacts

The website for ​PBS's "American Experience" offers a transcript of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's request to Congress on December 8 to declare war following "the day that will in infamy."  The site also provides video and other resources about the war and FDR's presidency.

 
The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress presents "After the Day of Infamy: 'Man-on-the-Street' Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor."​  Excerpts from approximately twelve hours of interviews with more than two hundred individuals across the United States recorded in the months following the bombing of Pearl Harbor provide a unique look into the opinions of a cross-section of Americans.  Excerpts from a second series of interviews, "Dear Mr. President,:" recorded in January and February​ 1942, examines both the war and other social and political issues of the time.  ​

Image of the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl HarborAnalysis and Assessment

​​Burton Barr Central Library's Government Documents Collection includes The "Magic" Background of Pearl Harbor​ an 8-volume set of declassified "MAGIC" or communications released by the Department of Defense.  The documents provide extensive intelligence background of the Pearl Harbor disaster.  The collection is available on the second floor of the library.
 
Presented by the Combat Studies Institute, Staff Ride for the Attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941 provides a comprehensive approach to analyzing how Japan planned the attack, the failure of the United State to prevent it, and the attack's disastrous results. ​

The Local Connection

The University of Arizona Library presents an online exhibit about the battleship Arizona - sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor.  In addition to a brief history of the ship, photos and a recording of the ship's bell, the site offers links to additional online resources on the battleship and Pearl Harbor.

 
Arizona State Memory Project website offers "Arizona Remembers: The 50th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor.​" The document provides additional information about the USS Arizona including its silver service (on display at the Capital Museum), an auxiliary launch hook or anchor destined for the ship and on display in Wesley Bolin Plaza, and a glossary of nautical terms.

 

Read More About It

War in the Pacific​ is a Staff Picks book list to help you begin your study of the Pacific Theater in World War II, from Pearl Harbor, Guam and Wake Island to Midway and Guadalcanal - on land, at sea and beneath the waves. 

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