During the spring 2018 semester, unique documents and artifacts relating to America’s participation in World Wars I and II are on display in the Elaine Altman Evans Exhibit Area in the John C. Hodges Library. The Echoes of War exhibit includes items showcasing the American experience during the World Wars.
“This exhibit is a vivid demonstration of what happens when distinct parts of UT cooperate,” says Vejas Liulevicius, director of the Center for the Study of War and Society. “It is the result of a decades-long productive partnership between the Center for the Study of War and Society and the talented staff of UT Libraries Special Collections.”
Among the objects on display from the UT Libraries’ Special Collections are letters home from WWI soldiers, a WWI doughboy’s helmet, and a WWII soldier’s footlocker and Army-issued sewing kit. Digital images and artwork, along with excerpts from interviews with veterans recorded as part of the WWII Oral History Project, will complement the artifacts.
“This exhibit masterfully shows how individual lives intersected with the World Wars and the huge waves of change those conflicts produced,” Liulevicius says. “The displays show how particular people’s stories add up to the biggest events in modern history.”
The exhibit includes a few original combat scene sketches drawn by a Knoxville child as he listened to radio broadcasts during WWII. That child was Hal Ernest, son of the owner of Ellis and Ernest Drugstore that stood on UT’s campus until 1967.
“For me personally, what is most rewarding is the way in which the exhibit’s artifacts connect to the history of UT at war, and our region, with photos of Oak Ridge or crowds celebrating the end of World War I on Gay Street,” says Liulevicius. “Another exciting piece is the exhibit aims to inspire UT students to think about what things they could research for a senior thesis or a research paper, using the amazing resources archived and available for use in the UT Libraries Special Collections.”