It’s a Wonderful [Historical] Life!

Just in time for the holidays, the latest episode of HAI’s Reel History analyses the Christmas classic, It’s A Wonderful Life (1946). Archivist Katie DeFonzo and Historian Taylor Hefka dive deep into the montage that showcases how the town of Bedford Falls contributed to the war efforts during World War II.  Did the actors and the audience live through the same experience? Or is it Hollywood glitz, glamour, and a bit of sensationalism? Watch to learn more!



About The Series: HAI’s Reel History is a video series analyzing the historicity of film, television, and video games. Through the lens of “What did this media get right?” rather than “What did it get wrong?”, the trained Historians and Archivists of HAI dive into the facts behind both your favorite films, shows, and games as well as more obscure media you’ll soon be itching to learn more about. We answer your most pressing questions about who, what, when, where, and how concerning media sources from the 1900s to today. “Did that really happen? Could it have happened that way? Where did they get that information? Is that really how Historians/Archivists/Researchers work?” The possibilities are endless!


Cosgrove, Ben, “Jimmy Stewart, 1945: A War Hero Comes Home,”

“How Does ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ Reflect the Post-WWII Sentiment of 1946?.”

Matzen, Robert, Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe. (Pittsburgh: GoodKnight, 2016)

Metz, Nina. “How Jimmy Stewart’s War Service Affected ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’” Chicago Tribune, November 30, 2016.

“Research Starters: US Military by the Numbers,” The National World War II Museum – New Orleans.

Scott, Rachael. “How World War II Shaped ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’” CNN, December 25, 2021.

Wilson, Christopher, “What ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ Teaches Us About American History,”

“World War II and the Red Cross”

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