Jazz and World War II: A Rally to Resistance, A Catalyst for Victory

Maj. Glenn Miller conducts the band during an open air concert.
Photo caption

Maj. Glenn Miller conducts the band during an open air concert.

U.S. Air Force photo

This lesson will help students to understand the effects that the Second World War had on jazz music and the contributions that jazz musicians made to the war effort. The activities below help students explore the role of jazz in American society and the ways that jazz functioned as an export of American culture and a means of resistance to the Nazis. Gathering together excerpts of important works by both jazz historians and jazz musicians, the culminating activity helps students develop a broader historical perspective on the effects that World War II had on the course of jazz music.

Guiding Questions

What effect did World War II have on jazz and how did jazz contribute to the war effort?

Learning Objectives

Analyze the short and long term effects of WWII on popular culture in the Unites States. 

Evaluate the extent to which jazz and jazz musicians contributed to the war effort at home and abroad. 

Evaluate the progress and limitations experienced by jazz musicians as a result of WWII.