New Role

Hello everyone!  I’m excited to announce that there have been some staff changes here at the museum and I am now in charge of the Curatorial and Collections sides of things around here!  I have a lot coming up with school and now working here, but I’m really looking forward to taking on the challenge.  Just so you know, too, I finished my book.  I ordered a prototype copy of it yesterday so that I can have something in front of me too look at to decide what changes I need to make.  But, wow is that an accomplishment!  I put the finishing touches on the cover design, uploaded it, and now it’s being prepped for printing.  I’ll be sure to add a photo of that as soon as I can.

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This is an example of an object we just don’t have a need for. Civil War era Youth Companion readers for children are outside the scope of Dunedin’s history.

So, now that I’m in charge of some things here, I decided I wanted to make some big changes and start some large projects.  One of our biggest problems since we’re so small is that we are always running out space to put things.  So, often times, they get stacked on desks or in corners, thrown into boxes, etc.  What ends up happening is that everything is a mess and it’s difficult to tell what we should be keeping and what needs to go.  I’m making it my priority to get collections back on track, to get rid of what we don’t need, and to reorganize what we do need.

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This is an example of a map all wrapped up and labeled with number and picture!

My first project has been a set of lateral file cabinet drawers next to our archival desk.  It is full of maps, large format photographs, and old scrapbooks and record books that date back to the 1880s.  Let me tell you – at the beginning of this week, none of it was cataloged, none of it was searchable in our database, none of it was properly stored and preserved, and none of it was organized in a manageable way.  That is all different now!  I took out every map in the top two drawers to start.  I organized them into “Dunedin/Pinellas County” and “Florida” piles.  Then, I further split those up.  So many of the maps were copies or reprints, so I put the ones that were the same together.  Then, I took photographs of all the different maps, assigned them accession numbers and put detailed descriptions about them into our database so that they could be searchable.  Finally, I wrapped each map in acid-free tissue paper, labeled the outside of the paper with the new accession number, and placed a photograph of the map on the outside of the paper so it could be identified without having to be unwrapped.

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Here’s the drawers and you can see that the bottom shelves are much more organized!

We now have much more space in these drawers and a much more organized map collection!  I did something similar with the large format photographs and record books, as well.  Next week, I will be tackling some of the storage closets to see where to begin.  I’m also going to be planning the annual Halloween exhibit, which is going to be slightly different this year, so that will be fun!

Don’t forget to come see our newest exhibit “Victorious: Dunedin, Pinellas County, and World War II,” and come see “Pomp and Circumstance” before we take it down next month 🙂

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From Orange Festival to Book Work

Hi everyone!  Sorry I haven’t written in a while – I’ve been so busy with a lot of things I’d love to tell you about!  First, Saturday, July 11 was the 6th annual Dunedin Orange Festival, which was a community event and fundraiser for the museum.  We, of course, had an enormous amount of help and support from the local merchants and community members, plus staff (namely Vinnie and Lauren) put in countless hours of planning and then setting up.  The event was wonderful, though it was very hot out – I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to this Florida heat!  One of the most popular events from the day was the newly founded “Ms. Dunedin Orange Fest Pinup Girl Contest.”  Ten lovely ladies arrived ready to strut there stuff for the festival goers.  Sporting victory rolls, red lipstick, and high heels, the ladies walked around the festival grounds collecting votes, which were $1 each.  Everyone is already planning this event again for next year! Other than the pinup contest, there was the annual Mojo Cookoff, Spin to Win, Indian River orange juice tent, and the silent hat auction.  Of course, there was lots of wonderful food, tons of merchants selling their goods, and beer, wine, and sangria.  For the most part, I stayed in the museum’s tent and sold citrus crate labels, raffle ducks, and discussed citrus history, as well as the upcoming “Victory on Main Street” event with passersby.  For the tent, I put together some historical information on display boards, as well as an artifact-filled display case.

What has been keeping me extremely busy is my book that I mentioned not too long ago!  I’ve been moving full steam ahead with it and as of right now, I have 27 “object articles” written, over 30 artifacts photographed and edited, tons of historical photos scanned from archives, and 16 completed pages that I designed in PhotoShop!  I did not know how fast this project would come together, but I’m hoping to finish the writing next week.  Then, I can move onto the editing process, which is when I’ll double check my facts and stories with newspapers, pioneer records, and even interviews if I need to.  My biggest problem that I’ve encountered so far is the number of objects I have.  I wanted to write about fifty, but so far, I’ve only been able to come up with about 40-42 objects that really define Dunedin’s history.  And, I don’t want to stretch objects that don’t quite fit or repeat stories, so I may just have to go with that smaller number.  If anyone has any suggestions or any unique Dunedin artifacts tucked away, I’d love to know about them!!

But, let me give you a look at what I’ve been doing.  First, I compiled a list and short description of my artifacts.  By this point, the list has been written on and scribbled over so much that I won’t picture it because it looks pretty sloppy.  But, from the list, I’ve been photographing objects in a little makeshift studio that I set up in the museum, so my object photos are turning out like this:

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Then, I’ve been photoshopping out the background and cleaning up the images so that I can put them neatly onto my pages with the stories and the writing I’ve been coming up with.  The finished object photos look like this:

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From there, I search through our archives to find historical photographs to go along with the object photos.  Ideally, I try to have a historic photo that includes the object in it, but this isn’t always possible.  So, in the case of this object, I just found a nice picture of the ACL railroad in Dunedin.  Here it is:

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Now, with all of these pieces including the text I’ve written, I create a page using PhotoShop.  Here, I’ve created a header that will tell the chapter and the page number.  I’ve included a number, a title for the page, the pictures, the text, and a caption that credits the museum with having the photograph.  Here is a model of a finished page:

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Some objects have two pages with a little more information and few more photos, but most of them are going to be about a page long.  I want  them to be simple, enjoyable, and informative without being too heavy or intimidating.  Everyone should be able to read them, enjoy them, and learn about Dunedin!  Thanks for reading this post and please, stop in and see us at the Dunedin Historical Museum!

A Lantern Tells All: Dunedin’s Main Street, 1913

I hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend!  I was visiting my family outside of Pittsburgh, PA, so I did not get a chance to post last week.  But, I’m back now!  One project that I’m trying to begin is publishing a book.  This is one of my major goals while I’m working on finishing my Master’s degree, and working at DHM offers me a great opportunity to try to do that.  So, I’m in the process of proposing a book that would tell the history of Dunedin through artifacts in the museum’s collection.  I’d like to take this opportunity to present an example of what I want to do!

This is the original kerosene lantern hanging in the corner of a recent museum exhibit.

This is the original kerosene lantern hanging in the corner of a recent museum exhibit.

My goal is to take a deep look at 50 artifacts in the museum’s collection and really showcase the stories they hold.  Through doing that, the history of Dunedin will be revealed in a less “historical” manner.  This means that it will have a personal, detailed, and even funny flair!  Everyone likes a good story and I hope to record the stories that our artifacts tell.

One of the first artifacts that came to my mind when I began thinking about this project was a large kerosene lamp.  This lamp is the only one of its kind left in Dunedin, and it used to hang in the oak trees that lined the center of Main Street to provide light for travelers.  My story does not directly tell that of the lamp, but it does reflect what the lamp bore witness to.

This postcard depicts Main Street as what it was prior to 1913.  The oak trees separate two sides of the road.

This postcard depicts Main Street as what it was prior to 1913. The oak trees separate two sides of the road.

In the early 1900s, only a few hundred people called Dunedin home.  Main Street contained a few stores, a post office, and a pathway down to the water and the very prestigious Victoria Drive.  The street itself was nothing more than sand strewn with straw, a row of oak trees down the center separating the two sides, and deep ruts carved into the soft surface from wagon and early car wheels.  Sidewalks made of boards lined the street allowing people to have a sturdier surface to walk upon.  Sybil Christie, a member of one of Dunedin’s pioneer families, remembered how loud the boards were.  She recalled in an interview from 1970 how people made a “clumping” sound on the boards that could be heard during prayer meetings at church.  She also recalled how she and her childhood friends would lift up loose boards if they found any to look for change that had fallen and rolled through the cracks.

This photo was taken in 1913 shortly after Main Street was bricked.

This photo was taken in 1913 shortly after Main Street was bricked.

By 1913, city officials were ready to expand the tiny town of Dunedin.  Pinellas County was formed and with that came the idea to build a road connecting St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs.  Dunedin officials hopped on board with that plan. The plan required that Main Street be bricked over and the oak trees be removed from it. On the day that the county workers came to begin cutting, local women of the Village Improvement Society sat on their tools and tied themselves to the trees right under the kerosene lanterns in protest. The workers could not carry out their assignment, and the local sheriff arrived to break up the trouble. He convinced the women to return home for the night and to meet with the county workers in the morning to strike an arrangement. The women went home and when they got back in the morning, all of the trees had been cut down; the county workers had gotten up early and beaten them to the site.

Notice the deep ruts in the sand that early families were used to driving on.

Notice the deep ruts in the sand that early families were used to driving on.

The various accounts of this story in the books and interviews found in the museum’s library and archives then outlines how furious the women were, and understandably so!  They were certainly deceived and made fools of, though today, it is a story marked with hilarity, rather than anger and resentment.  All of the interviewees who were able to remember this story offered a bit of a laugh to go along with it.

So many of DHM’s artifacts have great stories, or at the very least bore witness to great stories, and I think it is very important to let people in on what these artifacts have to tell.  I hope to be able to share more stories like this in book form in the future.  As always, let us know if you have any questions or comments, and of course, stop in and visit between 10am and 4pm Tuesdays through Saturdays!

Dunedin’s Citrus History

Citrus has been a part of Dunedin’s history since the 1880s because, well, this is Florida!  Pretty much everyone thinks of Florida when they think of orange groves.  I’m originally from Pennsylvania and the few times I’ve driven through the countryside down here, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the orange groves with thousands of trees all lined in their fields and bright, beautiful pieces of fruit hanging plentifully from the branches.  And, the smell of the fresh citrus… it’s phenomenal.  Anyway, I thought I’d write about Dunedin’s citrus industry today because it spans the early parts of Dunedin’s history, as well as the World War II years.  Because of that, citrus is represented in both our permanent Dunedin exhibit and our new World War II exhibit, “Pomp and Circumstance: Dunedin, Pinellas County, and World War II.”

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1883 saw the addition of two new residents to Dunedin that would go down in the town’s history as ambassadors of big business and industry.  Lee Bronson (L.B.) Skinner and A.L. Duncan arrived independently in Florida from Wisonsin where they met and decided to invest in land for orange groves in Dunedin.  Both men purchased tracts of ground that were partly in grove at the time.  Duncan’s would become known as Milwaukee Groves.  As the two men began producing oranges and making money, their interests shifted.  Skinner became interested in inventing machinery to help his citrus processing, while Duncan became interested in developing the fruit; he would eventually go on to develop the Duncan grapefruit, which is still produced today.

By the early 1900s, Skinner created machinery that was able to wash, scrub, and sort the fruit that came from his groves.  Other area citrus producers and packers took note of Skinner’s invention and placed orders for the same product.  By 1909, Skinner had founded Skinner Machinery Co.  He also bought out Duncan’s grove and began establishing a small citrus empire for himself.  In 1911, Skinner’s son Bronson (B.C.) became manager of Skinner Machinery Co.

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B.C. Skinner took on an important role in the citrus industry in the 1930s that boosted Dunedin onto another level.  He wanted to develop an idea that had been around since 1914: citrus concentrate.  His goal was to produce a product that could be made to simulate fresh orange juice by simply adding water, all the while having the same fresh taste and vitamin C content, which were easy to lose through the concentrate process.  In 1935, B.C. founded Citrus Concentrates, Inc. (CCI) where he spent the next three years experimenting with his product.  By the 1940s, World War II in Europe offered him a new opportunity.  As German U-Boats were blocking trade routes in the United Kingdom, citizens were suffering from a shortage of the vitamin C that fresh citrus from the Mediterranean provided.  The government caught wind of B.C.’s product, built him a $1.1 million concentrate plant in Dunedin and from there, he produced his concentrate.  By the end of 1944, CCI produced and shipped over 28 million cans of concentrate and earned $4 million.

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Tragedy struck the Dunedin citrus industry after World War II.  On the night of August 27, 1945, the main CCI plant and offices went up in flames causing over $3 million in damages.  Shortly before the fire, though, B.C. had created another new product.  He began producing a frozen citrus concentrate that he branded under a label called Sun-Filled.  B.C. rebuilt his plant, which was then bought out by Snow Crop Industries in 1948, which would focus on that frozen concentrate.  In 1954, Minute Maid bought out Snow Crop, and later on Coca-Cola bought Minute Maid.  Today, B.C. Skinner’s land is occupied by a Coca-Cola distribution center that ships worldwide.

The museum has many, many pieces of Dunedin’s citrus history in its collections and you can see some of these pieces on display in our different exhibits.  Come in and check them out and, of course, if you have any questions or comments, please let us know!

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These are some examples of canned products and juicing tools.

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These are examples of labels that were placed on orange crates in the early days. They are available for sale in our gift shop!

Summer is Here – Bathing Suit History

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I thought I would take a break from writing about our World War II exhibit today and revisit another exhibit that we still have up, “Pomp and Circumstance: Dunedin’s Boating History.”  This exhibit will be up until September and it explores Dunedin’s waterfront history from Victoria Drive in the 1890s to the Dunedin Boat Club.  One of my favorite artifacts that we have on display is a bathing suit from the 1890s.  This is not a typical bathing suit that we would think of today.  It’s completely made of wool, for starters.  So, I thought I would build on this particular suit and put together a short history of bathing suits!

Bathing suits have gone through a lot of changes since their debut in the mid-1700s. At that time, “bathing costumes” were heavy and they ensured that none of the body was able to be seen in or out of the water. In fact, women typically wore “bathing gowns,” which were long dresses made of fabrics that would not become transparent when wet. The gowns even had weights sewn into the hems so that they would not rise up in the water. Men wore form-fitting suits (usually made of wool) with long sleeves, similar to long underwear.

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In the mid to late 1800s, women began wearing two-piece suits, though these were far from what we know today! Their suits included a gown that went from the shoulders to the knees and included a set of trousers which extended to the ankles. The 1920s saw a new and “offensive” style of suit, which was designed and marketed by Annette Kellerman from Australia. The suit was form-fitting, only included one piece, and left the arms exposed. It eventually grew to be very popular and by the end of World War II, bikinis made their appearance in the market.

Throughout time, swimmers have gone from being completely covered to being barely covered at all. Bathing suits have transformed from heavy garments meant to hide the body into light, comfortable pieces that remind us of relaxing in the sun. It is amazing that such a simple piece of clothing has come so far!

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Make sure to come to the museum to see “Pomp and Circumstance: Dunedin’s Boating History” while it’s still up.  We have a lesson on bathing suits in our interactive corner, as well, that allows you to experiment with dressing figures in bathing suits from different times.  And, if you have any questions or comments, please let us know!

To Honor Those Who Fight – Service Flags

The two service flags in our newest exhibit, “Victorious: Dunedin, Pinellas County, and World War II,” are another example of artifacts that I find very interesting.  I don’t know much about them, myself, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to learn more!

In_Service_FlagA service flag (also called a service banner) is an official banner that the families of service members can display.  The flag or banner has a white center, a red border, and a blue star for each family member serving in the U.S. Armed Forces during any period of war. A gold star instead of blue represents a family member that died during service.

From doing some research, I learned quite a bit more about service flags and their history.  They were designed in 1917 by Army Captain Robert L. Queisser of Ohio in honor of his two sons who were serving in World War I.  Shortly after that, they were adopted by the public and by government officials. The flags were standardized for manufacture and use by the end of World War II.  The flags are only manufactured by specific government license in the United States.  Blue and gold are the only colors specified for use, but the display of silver stars, representing those discharged from service because of wounds, has increased.

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In our exhibit, we have two different service flags.  One lays in a case and has three blue stars, representing that the family who displayed it had three members serving in the military.  The other flag hangs in our diorama and contains one blue star, indicating that that family has one member serving.

Several organizations have formed since the creation of the service flags, which often serve to offer support for family members of those in the military.  The “Blue Star Mothers Club,” for example, provided support for mothers who had sons or daughters in active service in the war.  Other organizations include the “Gold Star Mothers Club” and the “Gold Star Wives of America.”

During World War II, service flags also made their ways into propaganda posters that were displayed for the public:

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Please stop by the museum and see our two service flags in person.  They were an important part of World War II history and they still carry an emotional meaning today.  Our World War II exhibit, in general, is not to be missed!  Thanks for reading this post and if you have any questions or comments, please let us know!

“Food Is Our First Line of Defense” – Victory Gardens

Happy Friday, everyone!  It has been a very busy week for me and I’m just finally getting caught up enough to write up this blog post now.  I cannot believe we’re almost into the second week of June already.  Time is flying by!  But, that means we’re going to be planning and putting together our upcoming summer events.  For example, on July 11, Dunedin Historical Museum is putting on the annual Orange Festival here in town.  It’s an all day event that will include tons of food, music, and our first pin-up contest.  The theme is the 1940s, so it should be fun!  Check out our Facebook for more info.

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So, in keeping with the World War II/1940s theme, I thought I would talk about Victory gardens today.  Building the Victory garden that’s displayed in the exhibit was one of the things I had the most fun with.  I cut the boards to build the garden box, laid down plastic to cover the floor, ordered and picked up the rubber mulch, installed some hay bales, planted sprouts, and ordered faux vegetables that were shipped from China.  It all came together fantastically and it one of my favorite parts of the whole gallery!

20150526_104327So, what is a Victory garden? Victory gardens were fruit, vegetable, and herb gardens planted on the home front during World War II. They were a big part of everyday life and had two purposes.  First, they were used alongside ration stamps to take pressure off of the public food supply.  That way, enough food from manufacturers, stores, and businesses could be sent overseas to feed the troops.  Second, the gardens were a morale booster for citizens at home.  By growing them, people felt like they were “doing their part” to support the war effort, plus they got to enjoy what they worked to grow!  In Dunedin, private and community gardens were very popular.  Some of the best crops to plant included onions, corn, cucumbers, cabbage, and squash.

There were lots of propaganda posters put out in the 1940s to encourage people to plant Victory gardens, such as these:

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One of the most interesting posters that we have displayed in the exhibit is an announcement from Baltimore, MD on February 18, 1943.  It notifies Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Co. employees that the task of planting Victory gardens is an important one and the railroad company will offer up parcels of land so that employees may plant them.  This notice was found among the belongings of the Malone family, a prominent family that lived on Dunedin’s Victoria Drive.

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So, once again, please stop in and see our newest exhibit, “Victorious: Dunedin, Pinellas County, and World War II.”  Come see the Victory garden for yourself and really take in what the surroundings were like during World War II!

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Everyone Likes A Good Pin-Up Poster

Victorious: Dunedin, Pinellas County, and World War II is open for business!  The exhibit looks fantastic and it got a wonderfully possible response from our sponsors at this past weekend’s opening.  For this week’s blog post, I’d like to look into one of the most iconic pieces of art from the World War II era, the pin-up poster.  We have a great collection of these posters in storage here at the Dunedin Historical Museum and we really don’t know too much about them  I got them out and looked through them so that we could hang one in our “Marine Locker” down in the exhibit.  Of course, we imagined that a marine would have one of those lovely ladies hanging with his personal belongings.

Our Marine Locker lady is titled,

Our Marine Locker lady is titled, “Refreshing… to Say the Least!”

So, what exactly is a pin-up?  A pin-up is a mass-produced photograph of a model that was intended for informal display (to be pinned up on a wall).  The term may also refer to drawings, painting, or other illustrations done to emulate these photos by artists, which is what we have here in our collection.  “Pin-up” is a term that came about in 1941, but the practice, itself, of taking or drawing photos of beautiful women, mass producing them, and hanging them dates back to the 1890s.

There were a lot of notable pin-up artists in the 1940s and we have posters made by some of those artists, such as Art Frahm and Pearl Frush.  Many of our posters, though, were created by an artist named Billy DeVorss.  Initially, all I could find about him from our collection is his signature:

PART_1432828895921_20150528_115753So, I had to start digging a little deeper.  From an internet searched, I learned that Billy DeVorss (1908-1985) was a bank teller in St. Joseph, Missouri.  While there, he met his wife Glenna, who served as his inspiration and his first model.  He was a completely self-taught artist who sold his first print to a calendar company in 1933.  Following the success, DeVorss and his wife moved to New York City where they found even more success.  In his work, DeVorss used an incredible variety of pastel colors, and he applied them directly onto the board, blending them dry with his fingers.  For his final paintings, we always used live models, rather than photographs.  Here is just one example of DeVorss’ work in our collection:

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From here, I’ll include a number of the other lovely ladies we have.  They’ve all been recently given accession numbers, as well as protective sleeves.  Our next step will be to input them into our archival database, which will list exactly what they are, any additional information we can find, and their condition.

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These posters certainly hearken back to a different time and are important, interesting, and lovely pieces of art that came out of a dark and difficult time in American history, the World War II era.  The posters, too, inspired soldiers at home and overseas to keep going, and reminded them that they had people cheering them on.  Though they may seem like them were just posters of pretty girls. these pin-ups probably were an important link for the soldiers; through them, the soldiers were connected to their culture that was so far way,

Come in and see our newest exhibit… it’s up and it looks great!  You will certainly not regret your decision.  And, if you have any comments or questions please feel free to let us know!

A Taste of What We’re Installing

We’ve begun installing the World War II exhibit this week!  I, for one, am very excited.  Finally, all of the planning, sketching, buying, researching, writing, list making, heavy lifting, cleaning, fabricating, placing, searching, and organizing are going to come together to create a fantastic exhibit.  Since we’re knee-deep in work right now, I thought I would share some of the interesting things I discovered over the last few weeks while researching the World War II years on the Dunedin home front.

First, citizens of Dunedin experienced the military first-hand.  Around 305 men and women enlisted to fight for the United States, but on the home front, Donald Roebling created a military tank called the “Alligator” that was produced and tested right in Dunedin.  Marines were housed in barracks, and when they were not in training, they enjoyed the Dunedin Servicemen’s Lounge, the company of Junior Hostesses who visited to play games and dance with them, and a variety of other community events organized for their entertainment.

The barracks that were built for the Marines

The barracks that were built for the Marines

The "Alligator" tank developed by Donald Roebling

The “Alligator” tank developed by Donald Roebling

"Alligator" tanks being tested out in the field

“Alligator” tanks being tested out in the field

Marines enjoying some down time

Marines enjoying some down time

Second, after Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, the Office of Civil Defense was formed in the US to help civilians plan defense strategies in their hometowns. By 1942, plans were finalized in Dunedin to build a watchtower onto the roof of Library Hall. Civil Defense volunteers in Dunedin manned the tower to monitor the skies for enemy aircraft. That way, they could warn citizens of an air raid attack, if necessary. The volunteers also had a responsibility to watch the coastline for signs of enemy submarines. While an air raid would have been unlikely, Dunedin was a major site for concentrate production and used as a tank training ground, so it may have easily been targeted by an enemy submarine.

The watch tower added to Library Hall

The watch tower added to Library Hall

Third, in July 1942, the official “Restriction for Control of Shore Lighting” was extended to include the Gulf Coast of Florida by the US Navy. Blackouts and dim-outs were implemented in waterfront communities throughout the US to keep enemy aircraft or submarines from gathering information about city layouts, defensive weaponry, or military protection in place. To comply with the measures, Dunedin city officials immediately shut off all of the street lights and created a list of rules for citizens to follow, which was published in the Dunedin Times. Illuminated signs, any kind of outdoors lighting (i.e. porch lights or lights at sports venues), and bonfires were prohibited. Homes directly along the waterfront had to put blackout shades in their windows, and cars were only allowed to drive with parking lights on. These rules were in effect from thirty minutes prior to sunset to thirty minutes prior to sunrise the next morning. As a result of the darkness, bicycles use was discontinued after nightfall and speed limits were decreased to 20 mph.

Dim-out rules posted in the Dunedin Times

Dim-out rules posted in the Dunedin Times

This is all just a taste of what we discuss in our upcoming exhibit, “Victorious: Dunedin, Pinellas County, and World War II,” so make sure you come by to see it when it opens Memorial Day weekend!  I’m so excited about the progress we’re making and I know that the exhibit is going to be great.  Thanks for reading and if you any questions, suggestions, or comments let us know.  And, of course, stop in to see us!

Designing an Exhibit: A lot of Work, A lot of Reward

Hello again!  I’ve been working really hard lately at getting everything ready so that we can start installing our new World War II exhibit on Monday, May 11.  The exhibit is called “Victorious: Dunedin, Pinellas County, and World War II.”  Instead of picking something from the collection and telling you about it, this week I thought I’d discuss what goes into putting an exhibit together so that you can get a behind-the-scenes taste of what we do on the exhibit front here at the Dunedin Historical Museum!

DOC050715-05072015110526-0001 Making an exhibit starts with a lot of lists.  For our World War II exhibit, the first thing we did was print out a floor plan of the gallery space so that we could list the different corners and spaces and what would go in each space.  We ended up listing eleven spaces for this exhibit: Introduction, Marine Locker, Timeline, Marine Life and the Alligator Tank, Porch Party/1940s Fashion, Victory Garden, Home Front, Community Curated Area, Victory!, Returning Home, and Interactive Area.

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After listing the spaces and what we wanted in them, I made another list.  This time, I searched our collections database for any item related to any of the above categories.  I used search terms like “World War II,” “Marines,” “Alligator,” Soldier,” etc.  Once I had a list of every item in our collection fitting the categories, I placed them in their respective categories on the list.  Then, I went through collections, got them out of their storage wrappings, and organized them into boxes labeled with the categories.

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After collections materials were sorted out, I made yet another list!  This time, I expanded on the sections even more to say what materials we needed to order to complete the decor and/or fabrication.  For example, when we make our Victory Garden, we’re installing rubber mulch, hay bales, gardening tools, and vegetable sprouts.  So, I have to figure out how to make those things and where to get the supplies.  I also listed what interpretation labels we needed to write to make our story clear to viewers.  For example, we need to have a panel telling viewers what exactly a Victory Garden was and how it applied to Dunedin.  Then, I began ordering items and writing text.

All of the collections items in their category boxes - I promise that this is organized!

All of the collections items in their category boxes – I promise that this is organized!

One of the biggest projects I’ve been working on along with everything is the timeline.  I wanted to convey the magnitude of this world event, so my idea was to cover an entire wall with a map and use that as a backdrop for the timeline panels.  Luckily, I have a background in Graphic Design, so I was able to design interesting panels that discuss each year of the war and its significant events using a visual technique.  The timeline took a lot of planning, design, and research, but I think it will look great!  Here is a sketch I did in the planning phase of the exhibit design.  It’s gotten changed a lot, but you can see my process.  After the sketch, I worked on making the panels.  Below is a sneak peak of one!

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So, the next step is installation!  We have materials arriving over the next few days.  We take down and put away our current exhibit this weekend, and then first thing Tuesday, we’ll be fabricating, hanging, foam boarding, printing, etc.  It’s a lot of work, but the end result makes everything worth it!  I hope that you enjoyed this brief taste of what we’re working on and that you’ll stop in to see “Victorious: Dunedin, Pinellas County, and World War II” when it opens to the public May 23!

One last side note:  We are so thankful to have our very own military museum in Dunedin (NASLEMM) and the director Bill Douglas has been so helpful with fact checking all of our typed information and with loaning us some interesting items to display.  Please stop and support NASLEMM and all of Bill’s hard work if you get the opportunity!