Arlington Public Library Explores World War II through Exhibition, Ac

Published on April 06, 2016


  • Artifact-rich exhibition tells Arlington's war story

  • In person Thursday, April 7: Pulitzer winner Anthony Doerr on "All the Light We Cannot See"

  • Confronting Japanese internment


Arlington Public Library delves this spring into life during wartime—on the homefront and amid the lasting devastation produced by hatreds that can cross any border.

Just in time for Arlington Reads 2016, Central Library is hosting an artifact-rich exhibition on Arlington County in World War II. It's the story of a community undergoing rapid transition from fading farms to new home to the Pentagon, all while sending its young men to fight in Europe and the Pacific. Library WWII

The exhibition highlights the often unheralded role of women who served essential roles in the war effort and maintained domestic life amid sacrifice.

"We're stepping back to the 1940s with this exhibit and these visiting authors to show how quickly the world changed at home and overseas," Library Director Diane Kresh said. "But ultimately the themes of human suffering and surprising courage appear timeless and seem to confront every generation."

The displays at Central draw from the collection of the Library's Center for Local History and items loaned by the Arlington Historical Society.

Scrapbooks from the Woman's Club of Arlington document a number of local wartime enterprises, including the Arlington Recreation Center for Servicemen.

The displays range from poignant letters home, combat boots, banners, music albums and "Victory" cookbooks to sometimes-grisly Horrors of War trading cards meant as social commentary, folk art and propaganda. The exhibition also includes a listening station of Arlington-at-war recollections culled from the Center's hundreds of recorded oral histories.

Arlington Read 2016

The Arlington Reads 2016 series of special author events kicks off Thursday, April 7 at Washington-Lee High School Auditorium with Anthony Doerr, author of "All the Light We Cannot See." Doerr, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, will discuss his haunting narrative of a blind French girl and a German boy whose lives come together amid the destruction of occupied France. doerr

At Mr. Doerr's request, his presentation will not be recorded for future on-demand viewing, so readers are encouraged to see him in person during his visit to Arlington. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the 7 p.m. program.

On Thursday, May 5, 7 p.m. at Central Library, Julie Otsuka discusses "When the Emperor was Divine," her acclaimed debut novel based loosely on her family's history with a Utah internment camp for Japanese Americans during the Second World War.

Also at Central Library, on Thursday, May 19 at 7 p.m., best-selling historian and journalist Richard Reeves discusses "Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II."

Arlington Reads is the Library's one-theme, one-community reading initiative. It is made possible through the generous support of the Friends of the Arlington Public Library.