Project overview: What happened in New Jersey during the war?

Our project focuses on the relationship between World War II (WWII) and New Jersey. We wanted to explore how war activity can affect a society and think looking at the war’s multidimensional consequences on New Jersey would make as a great case study.
This argument is supported by our analysis of the shipwreck database compiled by the New Jersey Maritime Museum and our research on shipwrecks, WWII, and New Jersey. The dataset includes detailed information about ships that were shipwrecked in New Jersey waters before, during, and after WWII. Each record in the dataset includes details such as information on vessel type, when and where the ship was built, what material it was built out of, where it was traveling to and from, what cargo was carried, how many passengers were on board, and the cause of loss.

Our background research

In our literature review, we primarily focused on studies that conducted shipwreck analyses and sources that provided a historical context for our data. We found that many maritime archaeology journals valued shipwreck data as a point of research, because shipwrecks can be used as archeological tools to provide a lens to view historical events and the society within a certain time frame. This helped us understand how shipwreck data can illuminate the role New Jersey played during war, and expand the historical narrative of the shipwreck database.
In addition, some sources are records of events, like maritime operations and routes during WWII, and thus contain stories behind the data to help us understand the historical context surrounding our data. In addition, a source that was really helpful to our research was a compilation of articles highlighting the different U-boat attacks during the war, which included anecdotes and detailed descriptions of some records in our dataset.

Why does it matter?

Our project is important because it highlights yet another tragic story of war and its consequences in a unique way, as we believe shipwrecks contain underexplored narratives. Our research will excavate the stories behind the data, connecting history narrative with data. We find that New Jersey as a city was highly impacted by the World War II as explored through the damages and losses to civilians and technology advancements after the war. The war’s multidimensional effects on New Jersey highlights the transformational nature of wars on societies, and invites us to remember the consequences of war through history.