Library photo show to focus on World War I vets
The Ligonier Valley Library is looking for a few good men... and women who served in the military during World War I. The Pennsylvania Room's annual historic photo show will feature “Faces of Ligonier Valley: Veterans of World War I” Sept. 9 through Nov. 18.
To recognize the 100th anniversary since the start of World War I, the library is issuing a call to the public to lend photos and documents as well as artifacts such as uniforms or helmets and other memorabilia dealing with loved ones and their experience in World War I.
The idea to feature World War I at the 13th historic photo show materialized last August.
“Marylou Mitchell brought in several family items from World War I that belonged to her mother, Bessie Hoon,” said Shirley Iscrupe, Pennsylvania Room archivist. “Not 40 minutes later George Springer brought in a portrait of Albert Rector in his uniform. I figured somebody was trying to tell me what the next display should be.”
Mitchell's collection included a photograph of Will Tosh, who was killed in action on July 30, 1918; funeral cards and a photograph of Fred Withrow, A World War I honor roll dedication invitation and a casualty list.
All photographs and documents will be copied (with the lender's permission) to become part of the Pennsylvania Room collection, and all materials will be returned at the close of the exhibit.
“We are mostly looking for photographs and documents that will be scanned to become part of our archives,” said Iscrupe.
To date, they have received 25 responses to the request for items, including three helmets, various uniform parts and medals, gas masks, a duffle bag, numerous photographs and documents. One of the most unique items in the collection is a series of letters from an officer to his family, Iscrupe said.
“We create a write up about each piece to keep track of when it is on display,” Iscrupe said. “It includes the name of the loaner.
Iscrupe and a group of library volunteers prepare the photographs and documents for display by first scanning the items and then placing them in frames or folders.
“Copies of the photos and documents stay here and become permanent additions to our body of information in this room,” Iscrupe said. “The object is to get these names documented on the library records. We have 300 soldiers identified so far. There has to be alot more out there. We had 1,200 area soldiers identified for the Civil War photo display.”
Committee members include Becky Bell, Madelon Sheedy, Barbara Banales, Theresa Schwab, Bruce Maysmith, Rabon Johnson, Ray Kinsey and Bruce Shirey.
“This is part of my family's history,” said Bell, who loaned photographs and memorabilia belonging to her grandfathers, Russell Horner and Stewart Weller.
Banales said she enjoys working with Iscrupe to put the historic displays together.
“They (World War I veterans) are all gone now. We are so lucky to have these images of these guys,” Banales said.
Bell said learning stations will depict the various aspects of life at the time of World War I, including maps, books and music from the era.
An opening reception will be held 7 p.m. Sept. 9. Westmoreland County Community college history instructor Eric B. Greisinger will discuss “Ordinary Lives Made Extra ordinary! The Social Impact of World War I.” His talk will focus on the connections between the ordinary people who served in the war and how their experiences impacted the world.
Greisinger has volunteered as a living historian of the Civil War and World War II period at several national parks. He is a military antiques collector and an artist.
Previous photography shows featured Ligonier Valley veterans of both the Civil War and World War II.
Other shows focused on Ligonier Valley life including the schools, churches, restaurants, hotels, the coke and coal industry, farming, railroads, Fort Days, trout fishing and the Lincoln Highway.
“The mission of these shows is to present a facet of Ligonier Valley history that is interesting, educational and may have been overlooked in the past. In addition, the copied photographs and documents become a permanent part of the Pennsylvania Room collection and provide material for future research,” Iscrupe said, quoting the mission statement.
For more information, call the library and ask for Shirley or Theresa, 724-238-6451, or write firstname.lastname@example.org. All programs are free and open to the public. No reservations are necessary.
Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or email@example.com.