DUNMORE, Pa. — Just in time for Veterans Day, Penn State Scranton will play host to a traveling exhibit that pays homage to University athletes who bravely served their country during World War I.
The Penn State All-Sports Museum exhibit “Field to Front: Nittany Lions at War, 1917-1919” will be on display on the main floor of the campus library from Oct. 20 through Dec. 13 during regular operating hours.
On Thursday, Nov. 14, Ken Hickman, director of the All-Sports Museum, will give two lectures on the exhibit at the library — one at noon and another at 6 p.m., with both open to the campus community and the general public. Admission is free, and there will be light refreshments.
The lectures are sponsored by Penn State University Libraries, the Penn State Scranton Alumni Society and the campus Student Activity Fee.
First exhibited in 2017 at the All-Sports Museum, which is located in Beaver Stadium, “Field to Front” had been on display most recently at Penn State Harrisburg. After learning about the exhibit, Penn State Scranton Alumni and Development Specialist Deborah Johnson approached Head Librarian Jennie Knies with the idea of bringing it to Scranton.
“I found this opportunity extremely interesting, in that it will appeal to several audiences with a variety of interests – history, veterans, athletics, Penn State alumni, World War I, photography, etc.,” Johnson said. “We specifically invited Mr. Hickman to speak at noon and 6 p.m. to accommodate the busy schedules of our students and the public.”
“I am really looking forward to it, because I like World War I history and think it was a very fascinating period of history. There was so much technological and cultural change that happened around that time, sometimes because of the war, and I always like to learn about personal stories from that time period,” Knies added. “This is a campus with a strong veteran presence in the student body, and I hope that those students especially might be interested to learn the histories of how war disrupted the lives of students a century ago.”
Created to coincide with the centennial of the United States’ involvement in World War I, "Field to Front" centers on the heroic contributions Penn State athletes made to the war effort, from their training in the states to their experiences fighting in the trenches of France and Italy.
About the Field to Front Exhibit
The exhibit uses numerous photos, letters and diaries to provide an in-depth understanding of the service of notable Nittany Lions like Bob Higgins (football), James “Red” Bebout (football), Levi L. Lamb (football, wrestling, and track) and Harry C. Jester (basketball).
It also details the exploits of Richard S. Davis (football) and William “Whitey” Thomas (football), who served with the fledgling U.S. Army Air Service, and tells the story of the U.S. Army Ambulance Service Section 529, a unit entirely made up of Penn Staters who served with the Italian Army.
Hickman has been the director of the Penn State All-Sports Museum since 2006 and is chair of the Penn State University Museum Consortium. A 1998 Penn State graduate, he previously served as the curator and director of development for the USS Constellation Museum in Baltimore, and as curator of the American Merchant Marine Museum in Kings Point, New York. He has been featured on the History Channel, and has overseen all military history content for About.com and ThoughtCo.com since 2007.
Knies believes the exhibit will make for a great cultural and educational addition to the library during its brief stay.
“I don't think that people necessarily expect to find exhibits like this on our campus, and so I hope that it will be something that is novel enough that it compels people to visit,” she said. “The library is a place to discover all sorts of knowledge, not just academic books and schoolwork, and so I try to grab opportunities to surprise people with topics and events that might broaden their worldview.”
Dates and Times for Exhibit
For more information on the exhibit, contact Knies at [email protected] or 570-963-2632. The campus library is open Monday to Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 3 to 9 p.m.