The Folks Back Home

May 30th, 2005 until September 5th, 2005

All Day

May 30 – September 5, 2005

Honoring the Westport Chapter of the American Red Cross
and its work behind the scenes during World Wars l and II.
Discover how Westporters supported their troops in wartime.

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The Spirit of America by Howard Chandler Christy (1873-1952)

The Spirit of America by Howard Chandler Christy was one of Christy’s most memorable posters that were generated during World War I. His images encouraged Americans to support the Liberty Loans and to enlist in the military. Nancy May Palmer, a former Gibson Girl, served as Christy’s model for many recruitment posters. They married in 1919, when she posed for The Spirit of America poster for the American Red Cross.

An integral part of the Westport community since 1915, the Red Cross has been a beacon of hope and security-the link to our troops and the folks they left back home-during both World Wars and the Korean, Vietnam and Middle East conflicts. It quietly continues its work today, still dedicated to helping people in need locally, nationally and internationally.

A visit to its historic headquarters in the Stephen Morehouse House at 36 Church Lane in Westport and a meeting with its executive director, Janet Filling, led the Historical Society curators to a treasure trove of Red Cross history. Glorious framed Red Cross posters dating back to 1917, when the Westport chapter was formed, covered every available office wall, created by Westport designers such as Alonzo Foringer, James Montgomery Flagg and Howard Chandler Christy. There were also many cartoons by local artists. A trip to their attic yielded an incredible collection of Red Cross and service uniforms in perfect condition. The Society decided to take a step back in time and take a look at the folks back home-to see how Westporters fared during World Wars I and II and how they supported our men and women in service.

The Historical Society archives and the clipping files at the Westport Public Library revealed more about life in Westport during World Wars I and II. Westport participated in gas, shoe and food rationing stamps, V-mail, Victory Gardens, the Victory Book Campaign, War Bond Rallies, The Red Cross Sewing and Knitting Ladies and their Our Boys Need SoxKnit your Bit campaigns. The Connecticut Cookbook, compiled by the Westport Woman’s Club in 1944, not only had special wartime recipes and sketches by local artists, but also won national acclaim. The incredible collection of Red Cross and service uniforms on display includes a World War I Doughboy. Visitors will also learn more about Red Cross founder Clara Barton and pioneering war journalist (and Westport resident) Sigrid Schultz.

ww2-army-uniform.jpgww2-wac-uniform.jpgww2-navy.jpgWorld War II uniforms worn by Westport residents: Army, various Navy uniforms, WAC uniform

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Honor Roll

Cover of the Saturday Evening Post, December 4, 1943 by Stevan Dohanos

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A group of Westport residents raised over $12,000 to purchase the painting Honor Roll and return it back into the Westport community. The painting is considered a town treasure. Gathered at the Westport Historical Society on Monday, August 1 are Mollie Donovan and Ron Malone.

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Red Cross poster by Norman Rockwell