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Local Citizens’ Stories of World War II Highlighted
As part of its ongoing oral history project StoryQuest, the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience is pleased to announce a newly expanded exhibit on local citizens’ participation during World War II, as well a reception to honor the project’s sponsor, and a special “archive day” to gather more stories and artifacts.
Chestertown Remembers World War II At Home and Overseas will be exhibited in the Gibson Center for the Arts at Washington College from January 25 through February 6. Telling a compelling tale of bravery, sacrifice, and community from a local perspective, the exhibit includes the personal stories of local people, photographs, letters, and other memorabilia that describe first-hand World War II in Chestertown. They include stories of a deadly munitions plant explosion, German POWs who came into town every day to work on local farms, rationing of food, fuel, and metal, raising money and stepping up crop production for the war effort, and scanning the skies for enemy aircraft and beaches for submarines. The exhibit also details the experiences of local men and women overseas who were eyewitnesses to Pearl Harbor, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, flew bombers over the Adriatic Sea, and were among the first female officers in U.S. Marine Corps. These captivating stories form the core of two exhibitions that were developed with RiverArts Gallery and curated by Washington College students for the Dr. Davy H. McCall World War II History Project. Chestertown Remembers World War II At Home and Overseas will be open to the public, free of charge, daily from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m.
On February 5, a special First Friday closing reception will be held from 5-6 p.m. at Gibson Center for the Arts to honor Dr. McCall, World War II veteran and chair emeritus of the college’s Department of Economics, for his support of the project.
On Saturday, February 6, students and educators will host an “archive day” at the Kent County Public Library at 408 High Street in Chestertown from 10 a.m. to noon. Local residents who have photos, letters, artifacts, or other memorabilia related to World War II are invited to come to the library where students will scan and document the material. These will then become part of Washington College’s World War II digital archive, which is another element of the StoryQuest project.
“A lot of the people who had personal experience are vanishing from this earth,” McCall notes. “So now is the time to do this—it can certainly be no later than now. Seeing Ken Burns’ wonderful show on the Civil War, and seeing the importance of the letters he was able to find to tell that story, emphasized to me how vital it is to record personal recollections of this very important international event while we still can.”
If you have World War II stories or artifacts, or know someone who would like to be interviewed for this on-going project, please contact StoryQuest co-leaders Michael Buckley at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lani Seikaly at email@example.com or by phone at 410-810-7156.
StoryQuest is an oral history project developed by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience that has been collecting the tales of local residents—from watermen to veterans of the Civil Rights movement—for more than five years. Washington College students participating in StoryQuest learn how to collect first-person oral histories, share them via performances, presentations, exhibitions, and preserve them in a digital archive.
The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, founded at the College in 2000, is an innovative center for the study of history, culture and politics, and fosters excellence in the art of written history through fellowships, prizes, and student programs. www.washcoll.edu/centers/starr