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Get a glimpse of 'A Nation at War'

Siefried Line
Thomas Hope (far right) poses with other soldiers on the Siegfried Line in February 1945.

Sixty years separate us from the people who marked the end of World War II in 1945. A selection of their stories in words and pictures--and with Rochester connections--is now on display in the Rare Books and Special Collections Library. The exhibition, A Nation at War, is free and open to the public.

Letters, drawings, photographs, and memorabilia describe personal experiences as they were happening. Original editorial cartoons from Elmer Messner of the Rochester Times-Union express his outrage at the Nazis, and letters home from Helen Mary Shaddock '37 detail her life as a Naval courier in Miami and Washington. All the items on display are drawn from the library's collections.

Other images of that wartime experience can be seen in color pencil drawings made by Jack Keil '44, part of a B-24 bomber crew of 10 in the Army Air Force, and photographs taken on the battlefields of Belgium and France by the Army photographic unit led by Thomas Hope, who moved to Rochester in the 1950s. Even a calendar with a Varga pin-up girl harkens back to that era, as do the paperback armed services editions of novels and classics.

One display explains the dramatic changes the war brought to the University as an institution and another attests to the contributions made by Rochester's industries. A scrapbook that recorded donations to the U.S. Sinking Fund--so named because money was pledged when an enemy boat was sunk or a plane shot down--shows the generosity of Rochester citizens to purchase war bonds.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill couldn't attend the University's 1941 Commencement to accept a honorary doctor of laws degree because of the war, but he made a live transatlantic address. It was the first honorary degree Churchill received from an American university. (Hear his speech at His correspondence with the University and related materials are on display. The exhibit also offers campaign materials from Thomas Dewey's unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 1944, and photographs and papers connected to Rabbi Philip S. Bernstein's tenure as executive director of the Committee on Army and Navy Religious Activities, which oversaw the work of Jewish chaplains in the armed services. Bernstein was rabbi at Temple B'rith Kodesh in Brighton.

The exhibition continues through October 31 in the Rare Books and Special Collections Library of Rush Rhees Library. For more information, call x5-4477.

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