OGDEN, Utah – A popular photo exhibit at Weber State University that captured the imagination of local residents is reopening next month with a more extensive display.
The photographic exhibit “Prisoners of War in Ogden” aroused so much public interest when it opened last fall at WSU’s Stewart Library that it has since been expanded with oral history interviews, additional photographs and video and audio segments.
The exhibit will reopen at 11:30 a.m. on March 9 with speaker Allan Kent Powell, considered the state’s top expert on wartime internees and author of “Splinters of a Nation: German Prisoners of War in Utah.” Powell will speak in Stewart Library’s Special Collections area.
The exhibit began as a local feature for the theme “Building America’s Defense” at the fifth annual Utah Construction/Utah International Symposium. As news articles about the exhibit began to appear in print, the library’s telephones began ringing.
“I used to drive the POWs to their jobs,” said one caller. “The POWs used to sing to us over the fence when we went outside for recess at my elementary school,” said another. “My best friend’s father was an officer on the base, and an Italian POW became their cook. I loved going to their house for dinner!”
As patrons visited the exhibit and identified individuals in the now historic photographs, Sarah Langsdon, assistant curator of Special Collections, organized a team to conduct oral history interviews—some with audio or video components. Participants who gave oral history interviews or who otherwise knew the internees will be invited, and the reopening is free to the general public.
In addition to his book on internees, Powell edited “The Utah History Encyclopedia.” He is history programs manager at the Utah Historical Society and managing editor of the Utah Historical Quarterly.
Following the opening in Special Collections, “Prisoners of War in Ogden” will stand near the library’s new west entrance on the lower floor throughout spring semester.
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