"All we hear & know now is war and my head and ears ache from the roar of the guns. – Ernest Patchen, Danbury soldier in letter to his mother dated October 7, 1918.
The current exhibit at The Danbury Museum & Historical Society, curated by Collections Manager, Michele Lee Amundsen and sponsored by 1 Kennedy Flats and Leahy’s Fuels, focuses on the contributions of Danbury citizens at home and abroad during World War I.
The number of men and women from Danbury who served during World War I totaled 1,300. Thirty-six Danburians lost their lives during the war. The exhibit recognizes all branches of the services and topics covered include; Sacrifices on the Homefront, The Mallory War Garden, the role of Danbury Hat Factories, and the Old 8th Company.
Historic imagery of parades, war bond rallies, soldiers and other period images of Danbury fill the exhibit cases. In addition to letters, artifacts such as uniforms, helmets, and ephemera items including posters, and memorabilia from the archives of the Old 8th Company donated by Mr. Frank Stone are on display.
A binder filled with over 100 letters written home by Danbury soldier, Ernest Patchen can be read and
visitors are encouraged to search the CT Military Census for Danbury for their ancestor(s). The Military Census was an assessment of manpower and resources available in the state. All men aged 16 years and over were counted. Craft a poppy and take in three-dimensional “trench wall” a focal point of the exhibit.
Brigid Guertin, Executive Director and City Historian noted, “We are so excited about the overwhelming interest and support that our World War I exhibit has generated within the Danbury community. Loans and donations of WW1-related materials, to augment the exhibit, have been coming in to the museum regularly. We’ve also seen more than 300 visitors through our door since its opening Our partnership with the Danbury Library to offer movies, lectures and programs related to WWI is an exciting addition to our Danbury calendar of events.”
A full slate of events are planned throughout the exhibit and includes a World War I Free Film Series on Fridays at the museum and the library, Pets for Patriots adoption day in cooperation with DAWS in August, a World War I Recipe Pot Luck Dinner in October and A Night of Poetry in November.
The Great War: Danbury Answers the Call is on display through Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Veterans Day. Admission is free though monetary donations are gratefully accepted.
The museum is also excited to offer expanded hours for guided tours of the historic buildings on their Main Street campus for the summer months. Tours take place Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Labor Day.