The World War II Multimedia Database

For the 72 Million


I can’t believe it’s been twenty-five years since I started this site. I have only recently actively tried to update it since my mother lost her battle with Parkinson’s disease. As its twenty-fifth anniversary approaches, I thought I would provide a little background on how the site came to be.

At Fordham University Lincoln Center in the Fall of 1996, I met with the Head of Department, Prof. Barry Goldberg, to discuss my undergraduate History degree curriculum. The final requirement was a thirty-page written thesis. Prof. Goldberg, knowing that I had extensive experience in multimedia, wanted to get the department up on the World Wide Web. He suggested that I make a website about World War II.

I was transferred from Prof. Goldberg to Prof. Michael Marmé for advising, and he agreed to supervise the first part of the undergraduate thesis on the Pacific. I didn’t really worry about the undergraduate thesis as I had a lot to do on various classes, plus my day job teaching high school students multimedia production was something more than a full time — like two and a half full time — job.

So in the of Fall 1999, some three years after Prof. Goldberg suggested I make a website, I began to gather materials for the project. I spent a lot of time with the National Archives website, pulling photos relevant to World War II. In the Pacific. I captioned them using Adobe Photoshop, usually with the information that was present at the time the photo was found online in the National Archives. (Later, I’m finding that that information is often inaccurate.) Soon I had annotated over 500 photos. The site went live in the spring of 2000, first with only photos, then essays were added by May 2000. Prof. Marmé was a great resource, and I think I blew his mind with the sheer volume of the project. A thirty-page thesis turned into 50+ essays, many several pages long. The bibliography originally linked back to the New York Public Library, and other links all around the Internet provided a lot of more detailed information. Later versions linked to Amazon. Madacy Video agreed to let me use their video clips if I provided a link back to their website.

As I worked on the Pacific War, I realized I wanted to create a larger, more comprehensive site on the European War. Because of the size of that theatre, with its western and eastern fronts, I would have to double the size — initially over 900 photos and 100 essays — and draw from many more resources. For the European War I was able to secure the assistance of Prof. Edward Bristow. Prof. Bristow at first didn’t understand the project, as he had no experience with the web and the materials for editing were delivered on paper, which he preferred but lacked the interface of the web that visitors to the site would experience. Once he was able to see the site online, he could better imagine how the European version would come together.

Captioning the photos was both the most difficult and the most rewarding part. Some photos would go very quickly, easily captioned in a few minutes. Some take hours or days, and cannot be correctly captioned and identified even with the help of many other interested historians and webmasters. Some are captioned only to be corrected years later with the help of people involved.

When the first complete version was posted in Dec. 2000, I had 1856 photos, 100 video clips, and 132 essays. Not bad for slightly more than a year’s worth of work.

After I graduated, I found that people all over the world contacted me with information about the men in the photos, and that the National Archives captions were usually very incorrectly written. I began to totally rewrite the site, and got about halfway through, finishing 860 of 1856 photos. I extensively researched the lives of the men and women in the photos as best I could, contacting their surviving family members, and finding their life stories after the photos were taken.

Today I am a successful high school History teacher, whose son is about to graduate, and I haven’t been able to update the site in over a decade. A recent viral attack led me to revamp it entirely. Perhaps I will be able to update it more regularly…

An Online Publication of MFA Productions LLC

The World War II Multimedia Database was originally the undergraduate thesis of Jason McDonald’s History degree at Fordham University. The Pacific War was completed in 1999 and the European Theatre was completed in 2000. At the time, the web was relatively new, and this was one of the first history projects in the Lincoln Center undergraduate program.

Photography and Video Credits

Most of the images are available in the Library of Congress, National Archives Image Database and at the Naval Historical Center.


Professor Michael Marmé,
Department of History, Fordham University Lincoln Center
Advisor, Pacific War

Professor Edward Bristow,
Department of History, Fordham University Lincoln Center
Advisor, European War

Invaluable Assistance

My wife and son for always being there for me, and for putting up with me going back to this site after a very long absence.

John Vonne, Itsuka Takahashi and Alia Victor for Japanese translations.

Ryan McDonald for his acute desire to not learn about the difference between USS Wasp, HMS Hermes and IJN Hiyo

The Drupal community for their help 2007-2023, and WordPress since then. Both are wonderful programs. Drupal 10 was beyond my time and ability, so here we are.

My parents for putting up with a lifelong obsession with the war.

My friends for putting up with endless talk about this project.

Emanuel Strauss and Michal Galuska for their help in 1999 with Shockwave, Flash, Perl, PHP and mySQL.

The man who neither wants or requires thanks

Professor Barry Goldberg,
Chair, Department of History, Fordham University Lincoln Center for thinking of this project in 1999, when the web was young

Artur Fridberg and the staff at eBoundHost Support

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