Post World War II Furman Exhibit Opens in The Duke Library

By Claudia Leslie, Contributor

A showcase of photos, rat caps, articles from “The Hornet” (the predecessor of “The Paladin”), yearbooks and poetry from the years 1946-1951 was opened in the Duke Library on Thurs., Feb. 18. The special archives exhibit “Return to Normalcy?” chronicles student life at post-World War II Furman. Curated by Tyler Edmund, ‘17, Jeff Makala and Courtney Tollison, ‘99, the exhibit outlines the simultaneous struggle and triumph of Furman University as its students returned from deployment in the war.

1,515 male students answered America’s call to serve. When they returned years later, Furman had to adjust to this huge influx of students. They created “Furmanville,” a trailor community for married veterans, which used military barracks to house overflowing numbers of students, and created a bus system between the then separate male and female campuses. Edmund spoke about how these years following the war were the precursor for Furman’s move to its current campus. Her exhibit includes the groundbreaking shovel from the 1950 move to Furman’s current location.

Attendees to the exhibit’s opening included John L. Plyler Jr., President Elizabeth Davis and many Furman alumni. One alumnus that I had a chance to speak with was Herb Cruse, ‘49. He came to Furman as a freshman in 1942, served in the war and returned in 1945. Looking at the exhibit, Herb recalled living in the military barracks, and even recognized friends of his in old “The Hornet” photos.

Edmund gave remarks about her work on the display, noting how the aftermath of wars are often glossed over. Jeff Makala echoed this saying, “We celebrated the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War II, but we didn’t really celebrate or talk much about how these soldiers came back from war and tried to rebuild their lives.” This special collection pays homage to the years that Furman recovered from war.

This was the fifth event sponsored by the Friends of Furman Libraries. The coalition fosters an appreciation for the library’s involvement in the intellectual life of the university. Members receive a monthly newsletter, invitations to exhibitions and information about Friends’ events and activities. To receive information about joining, contact Kathleen.Hamlin@furman.edu. The  “Return to Normalcy?” exhibit will stay open to students until May in the top floor of the library.

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