A War on Two Fronts

Client: Athenaeum Press

Deliverables: A permanent museum exhibit, a traveling exhibit, and an interactive iPad component

Scope: For years, Dr. Maggie Morehouse spent her time researching and collecting narratives from soldiers who had fought in World War II, specifically the 92nd and 93rd Division. When you look into a history textbook, there’s no mention of black soldiers fighting alongside their white brothers before fighting for civil rights in the 1950s. These stories told of the hardship of fighting for a country in which you have no civil rights, and the challenges of discrimination and prejudice from commanding officers. These soldiers had gear stolen from them, were banned from officer clubs and other areas of bases, and were often overlooked for rewards and recognition. Dr. Morehouse curated stories that for too long have gone untold, and deserved to be remembered for their sacrifice and “Double Victory”- their victory as Allied forces abroad but also for racial equality back home.

Dr. Morehouse approached The Athenaeum Press with her research in the hopes of telling it in a lasting and engaging way. The collection of stories was vast and thorough, making it a challenge to filter through, even with a team of 13 others from various disciplines. We knew we couldn’t tell every single story, so we had to sift through and find the ones we thought would make the most impact. Once we narrowed down the important and complete stories, we had many discussions about the vehicle we would use to tell these stories. Traditionally, a book would have been an easier method as we had the resources to publish. However, we felt that the beautiful thing about this collection was that it continued to grow and we wanted something that could be adapted over time. We didn’t want the experience to be a sole and private interaction with a book at home. Our vision, as a team, was that A War on Two Fronts would be a live exhibit that people could experience together. We wanted people to be able to hear the voices of those brave soldiers and see in person the memorabilia that had been collected.

A War on Two Fronts first took the form of an interactive museum exhibit in the Horry County History Museum in Conway, South Carolina. With the success of the exhibit, we built a virtual archive of all of the research, a traveling exhibit to have a further reach, sharing these stories in community libraries, and finally a book component. The traveling exhibit has encouraged others to submit their stories from World War II and thank the soldiers who shared their stories of bravery and sacrifice.

Student Contributors:

Derek Berthiaume, History

Erica Burkett, Design

Theresa Calabrese, Design

Joseph Churillo, History

Emily Englehart, Design

Leann Ford, History

Amanda Hamilton, History

Lindsay Hickman, English + History

Amy J. E. MacKenzie, Graduate English

Nicklaus McKinney, Film + History

Gabriel Miller, English

Michael Mistler, History

Steven Sargent, History + Digital

Deanna Washington, Communications

Faculty Advisors:

Maggi Morehouse, PhD, Professor of History

Alli Crandell, Digital Content Coordinator

Scott Mann, MFA, Design and Production Manager, The Athenaeum Press, and Associate Professor of Visual Arts

Jennifer Boyle, PhD, Digital Manager, The Athenaeum Press, and Professor of English and New Media

Image Credit:

Mitch Turner

The Athenaeum Press