Maryland State Library Resource Center

Enoch Pratt Free Library

Pearl Harbor : Primary Sources - Maryland State Library Resource Center

Pearl Harbor - Primary Sources

"December 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Day of Infamy" Speech, December 8, 1941

A primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time under study.  These sources offer an inside view of a particular event.  Princeton University 

The Central Enoch Pratt Free Library/ Maryland State Library Resource Center has a large collection of primary source materials available.


Library of Congress American Memory includes primary source information for the air raid on Pearl Harbor. 

The Pearl Harbor Museum website provides information on the heroes, ships and the attack. Also included are maps.

World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is home to the USS Arizona Memorial. The website includes photos and video's and history about the attack.

Diaries and Related Personal Narratives

Evans, David C., ed. & trans. The Japanese Navy in World War II: In the Words of Former Japanese Naval Officers. 2nd ed. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1986. D777.J3 1986
Evans reprints memoirs written by Japanese officers. 

Grew, Joseph C. Report from Tokyo: A Message to the American People. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1942. DS889.G7Q

Grew, Joseph C. Ten years in Japan: A Contemporary Record Drawn from the Diaries and Private and Official Papers of Joseph G. Grew, United States Ambassador to Japan, 1932-1942. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944. DS849.U6G7
Grew served as U.S. ambassador to Japan from 1932 through 1941.

The Memoirs of Cordell Hull. 2 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1948. E748.H93A3

Kimmel, Husband Edward, 1882-1968. Admiral Kimmel's Story. Chicago: H. Regnery, 1955. D767.92.K54
Kimmel was Commander in Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. 

King, Ernest J., and Walter Muir Whitehill. Fleet Admiral King: A Naval Record. New York: W. W. Norton, 1952. E928.K56


U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey [Pacific]. Naval Analysis Division. Interrogations of Japanese Officials. 2. vols. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1946. XD767.2.U5 v.1-2
Testimony from Mitsuo Fuchida, air group commander of the carrier Akagi, who led the attack.

Newspaper and Magazine Articles

"Blitz Chronology: Swift Stroke by Japanese Caught U.S. Forces Unawares." Newsweek, vol. 18, no. 24, December 15, 1941, pp. 19-21.
An early description of the first days of the Pacific war.

Burns, Eugene. "Japs Declare War on U.S.: Honolulu, Manila Bombed; Naval Battle Off Hawaii." Sun(Extra Edition), December 7, 1941, page 1.
Available online in the Baltimore Sun, Historical (1836-1990) Database (with library card).

"Forcing Showdown With Japan: Why U.S. is Pressing Tokyo for Quick Decision on War or Peace." United States News, vol. 11, no. 10, September 5, 1941, pp. 14-15.
Written more than three months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, this article suggests that President Roosevelt was forcing Japan to decide the question of war or peace. 

Hale, William Harlan. "After Pearl Harbor." New Republic, vol. 105, no. 24, December 15, 1941, pp. 816-817.

"Nation's Full Might Mustered for All-Out War; Initial Reverse Stirs Demand for Investigation; Washington Banks on Its Long-Range Strategy." Newsweek, vol. 18, no. 24, December 15, 1941, pp. 15-17.
This early assessment focuses on the military aspects of the war.

Stone, I. F. "War Comes to Washington." Nation, vol. 153, no. 24, December 13, 1941, pp. 603-604.
Writing on December 8, 1941, liberal journalist I. F. Stone reflects on the failure of U.S.-Japanese negotiators in preventing war.

"Untold Damage Done Honolulu, Witness Says." Sun (Extra Edition), December 7, 1941, page 1.
Written by an NBC observer while the Japanese attack on Hawaii was still in progress.
Available online in the Baltimore Sun, Historical (1836-1990) Database (with library card).

"The U.S. at War." Time, vol. 38, no. 24, December 15, 1941, pp. 17-27.

A good overview of the events of December 7, 1941 and its immediate aftermath.

"The White House: M-Day Log." Newsweek, vol. 18, no. 24, December 15, 1941, p. 18.
This article summarizes activity at the White House on Sunday, December 7, 1941.


Government Publications and Related Official Sources

Gantenbein, James W., comp. and ed. Documentary Background of World War II. New York: Octagon, 1975. D735.G25
Gantenbein offers reprints of numerous official publications relating to the outbreak of war.

Japan's Decision for War: Records of the 1941 Policy Conferences. Translated and edited by Ike Nobutaka. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1967. D754.J3I4
"Invaluable records of 62 conferences held in Tokyo between March and December of 1941" - Inside ft. cover.

U.S. Congress. Official Congressional Documents Relating to the U.S. Declaration of War against Japan. D767.92.U6

U.S. Department of State. Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States - Japan: 1931-1941. 2 vols. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1943. E183.8.J3U6

U.S. War Department. Army Pearl Harbor Board. Report of Army Pearl Harbor Board, Appointed by the Secretary of War . . . to Ascertain and Report the Facts Relating to the Attack Made by Japanese Armed Forces Upon the Territory of Hawaii on December 7, 1941. n.p., [1945]. D767.92.U64


Goldstein, Donald M., Katherine V. Dillion, and J. Michael Wenger. The Way it Was: Pearl Harbor - The Original Photographs. Washington, DC: Brassey's (US), 1991. XD767.92G65 1991Q

Dye, Bob. Hawai'i Chronicles III: World War Two in Hawaii, from the pages of Paradise of the Pacific. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2000. D767.92.H376 2000

If You Need More Help 

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Enoch Pratt Free Library
State Library Resource Center
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