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World War II exhibit on display at Columbia College
Friday, August 01, 2008

(COLUMBIA, Mo.) -- A collection of letters and photos from World War II are on display at the Columbia College Stafford Library. The exhibit, “War in the First Person: Personal Narratives and Correspondence of U.S. Servicemen and Women,” will be open to the public Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Sept. 4. The exhibit will also be open Labor Day weekend from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30, and 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 31.

Dr. Michael Polley, associate professor of history at Columbia College, helped assemble a display of letters from the Western Historical Manuscript Collection written to Father Albert Prokes, a St. Louis priest, from his parishioners in the Armed Forces during World War II. One such letter dated May 25, 1944, reads: “Dear Padre, Seabees [Navy engineers] don’t get any of the glory and we don’t want any of it. We know what our job is and we do it no matter how hard or dangerous it is.” The letter is signed Red Kelley, New Guinea. The exhibit also includes photographs and scrapbooks from Lucia D’Agostino, reference librarian at Columbia College.

Polley believes historical exhibits such as these are important because they provide firsthand information about wartime experiences. “The collection gives us very vivid insight into the lives and experiences of military personnel,” he said. “It helps us understand what the soldiers and sailors went through.”

An expanded version of the exhibit is scheduled to open in November at Webster University in St. Louis. For more information, contact Polley at (573) 875-7620.

Columbia College, a private institution founded in 1851 in Columbia, Mo., educates 25,000 students worldwide.