“From the four corners of the earth:” World War II as Revealed in the Muhlenberg College Archives


Trexler Library’s New Exhibit Celebrates the Contributions and Correspondence of ‘Berg Students and Alumni in WWII


Tue, 07 Oct 2014 10:30:00 EDT

Exhibit photo for Muhlenberg College’s Trexler Library and Wescoe School co-sponsor “From the four corner of the earth:” World War II as Revealed in the Muhlenberg College Archives, an exhibit located in the Library’s Rare Books Room, located on Level B.

An opening reception will be held on Tuesday, October 14, from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.  It opens  in the Level A Concourse of Trexler Library and features three speakers: Muhlenberg College professor of historyJohn Malsberger; Mrs. Sarah Fister Van Auken, daughter of PR director Gordon Fister, who is featured in the exhibit; and Major Nathan Kline, USAF-Ret. who attended Muhlenberg for several semesters and flew 65 bomb missions over Europe. Afterwards the event will move down to the Rare Books Exhibit Room on Level B, where the exhibit can be viewed while refreshments are served.

The opening reception and the exhibit itself are free and open to the public. 

The exhibit, curated by Special Collections &Archives Librarian Susan Falciani, was precipitated by the arrival in her office of almost 1000 letters and postcards from Muhlenberg students and alumni from the WWII era. The letters had been integrated into alumni records in development & alumni relations for decades, and because of their historical nature, Falciani was asked if the archives would like to keep them. 

The files contain postcards, letters, V-mail and, importantly, carbon copies of replies written by Muhlenberg staff to the servicemen. While a few folders contain only change-of-address postcards, most contain letters describing battles and conditions on the front lines in the European and Pacific theatres, as well as at training bases throughout the US. Servicemen talk about visiting Hiroshima and Nagaski months after the atomic bombs were dropped, about being held as POWs in Germany, and about their training as paratroopers, just to give a few examples.

The exhibit celebrates these letters by showing interesting and varied examples, while at the same time capturing the atmosphere at the College during the war years, at which time it served as both a V-12 and a V-5 Navy training unit for officers. Photographs and documents from the period, as well as clippings from the Muhlenberg Weekly and Muhlenberg Alumni Quarterly document the campus as training camp from 1943-1945.

For more information on the exhibit, visit trexler.muhlenberg.edu/wwii.