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Naper Settlement is set to showcase and commemorate Naperville’s story of the end of WWII

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Above / Beginning March 5, Naperville Settlement will commemorate the end of World War II, mindful of the way the City was at the intersection of Chicago Avenue looking north along Washington Street 75 years ago. Educational exhibits and programs will run through Memorial Day. (Naperville Settlement Photo)

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in 2020, Naper Settlement — Naperville’s award-winning outdoor living history museum — announces themed educational programs, exhibits, and events dedicated to telling Naperville and the nation’s World War II Home Front history.

The museum’s World War II offerings will begin on March 5 with the opening of three exhibits on display through Memorial Day, May 25, 2020, in the Naper Settlement Visitor Center, located at 523 S. Webster Street and Aurora Avenue in downtown Naperville. 

Manufacturing Victory: The Arsenal of Democracy

Manufacturing Victory: The Arsenal of Democracy presented by national touring exhibit sponsor HP with additional support provided by Citi will be on display in Naper Settlement’s two upper-level galleries. Produced by The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, the exhibit follows the industrial journey that took the United States from a nation perilously unprepared for war to a global superpower that led the Allies to victory in World War II. The 1,000-sq. ft. exhibit, includes compelling artifacts, photographs, oral histories, and interactive audio-video components that immerse the visitor in the story of America’s mighty industrial war engine. The upper-level galleries will also showcase how Naperville’s Kroehler Manufacturing Co. – the world’s largest manufacturer of upholstered furniture at the time – shifted its production to support the war efforts. By the war’s end, 28 different products from wooden propellers to artificial limbs were produced at Naperville’s Plant 1. 

The home where the Hammersmith family used to live still stands on S. Brainard. (Courtesy of Naper Settlement)

Naperville 1940s Home Front

The museum’s lower-level exhibition space will tell Naperville’s local Home Front story with Naperville 1940s Home Front. This new exhibit produced by Naper Settlement will explore how Naperville residents were asked to join the service, buy war bonds and stamps, give blood, grow and preserve vegetables, donate books, support local and national charities, prepare for blackouts, work more and buy less—all so the war could be won. The exhibit will also uncover Naperville’s Japanese Internment history, displaying photographs and stories from the over 50 Japanese men and women from Internment camps like Manzanar, Heart Mountain, and Rohwer who worked as seasonal laborers cutting and canning asparagus and growing mushrooms at the Illinois Mushroom Company in Naperville. 

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans And World War II

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service’s Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans And World War II will also be on display telling the national story of the 75,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry and 45,000 Japanese nationals incarcerated under Executive Order 9066 signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Embracing themes that are as relevant today as they were 75 years ago, the exhibition takes a deep look at immigration, prejudice, civil rights, heroism, and what it means to be an American.

Exhibits Enhanced by Programs & New Event

In addition to these highly-anticipated exhibits, Naper Settlement will present several educational programs and a new event dedicated to telling the WWII Home Front history.

(Photo courtesy of Naper Settlement)

HERstory Speaks Lecture Series:

Rosie Wins the War: The Stories of Women’s Workplace Roles in WWII

Sunday, March 8, 4–5PM

During WWII, as millions of men left for battle, American women stepped up to fill the void in building needed war materials. Dr. Catherine Forslund, professor of history and women’s studies at Rockford University, looks at women’s roles in wartime manufacturing including the problems recruiting them, the jobs they did, how most were summarily fired at the war’s end, and how that experience effected women’s employment ever after. 

*This program is part of Naper Settlement’s 2020 HERstory initiative to highlight female stories and contributions from Naperville’s past to present as part of the Centennial Anniversary of the 19th Amendment.  

This tiny NEW ERA commemorative button is among the prized possessions in Stephanie Penick’s button collection. (PN File Photo)

Manufacturing Victory: The Arsenal of Democracy Teacher Workshop

Thursday, March 19, 4–6PM

Led by educators from The National WWII Museum and Naper Settlement, the workshop will prepare teachers to utilize compelling photographs, artifacts, and oral histories in their classroom instruction. 

History Speaks Lecture Series:

Chicago’s Finest Hour: Local Manufacturing During WWII

Sunday, April 5, 4–5PM

For much of the 20th century, the Chicagoland area was a manufacturing center due to its central geographic location and ready access to rail and water transportation. Author Austin Weber traces the origins of manufacturing in Chicago and explores the city’s proud history of making steel and shaping metal. He also provides extensive coverage of the golden age of manufacturing in the region including Chicago’s unique contribution to the arsenal of democracy during World War II.

History Speaks Lecture Series:

Documentary Screening: A City at War

Sunday, May 10, 4–5PM

When America entered World War II, president Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) called on the country to become “an arsenal of democracy” and produce war materials to help defeat the Axis powers. This film explores how a mutually beneficial relationship between FDR and Chicago’s powerful democratic mayor Ed Kelly helped to win the war. Following the showing, participate in a discussion with the film’s executive producer John Davies.

Home Front 1940s Weekend – May 16-17

Saturday-Sunday, May 16–17, 10AM–4PM

Visit Naper Settlement on May 16 & 17 for 1940s Home Front Weekend when the history museum honors the efforts at home that helped to win the war. At the event, view the traveling exhibit Manufacturing Victory: Arsenal of Democracy on loan from The National WWII Museum. Meet Rosie the Riveter and a Rockford Peach baseball player! See displays of World War II vehicles and propaganda posters from the 1940s. Learn about Victory Gardens and attend canning demonstrations while you vote for your favorite artist-designed container garden. Enjoy the sounds of Andrew and His Sisters, a 1940s tribute performance, and learn how to jitterbug at the swing dance demonstrations. The event also features an opportunity for veterans to share stories of war for our archive.

For more information on Naper Settlement’s World War II educational programing, exhibits, and events, visit www.NaperSettlement.org/HomeFrontHistory.

Participating Organizations

Naper Settlement

Naper Settlement is a nationally accredited, award-winning outdoor living history museum set on 13 magnificent acres in the heart of Naperville. Located 30 miles from Chicago, the museum is home to 31 historical structures dating back as early as the 1830s. Featuring exhibits, special events, educational programming and more, Naper Settlement is where history comes alive and the community comes to connect. For more information, visit www.napersettlement.org or call (630) 420-6010. 

Naperville Heritage Society 

Founded in 1969, the Naperville Heritage Society is a not-for-profit organization and administrator of Naper Settlement, the City of Naperville’s museum. With a commitment to the community and a focus to the future, the mission of the Naperville Heritage Society is to collect, document, preserve, and support the history of Naperville, Illinois past and present. 

About HERstory 

Naper Settlement is on a mission to tell her story as it happens, while sharing the often-overlooked contributions women have made throughout history. Throughout 2020, in conjunction with the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s passage, the museum will highlight 100 women and girls in the community. This year-long celebration will be woven into Naper Settlement’s programs, events, exhibits and more. 

The National WWII Museum

The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world—why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today—so that future generations will know the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, the institution celebrates the American spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifices of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and served on the Home Front. For more information on TripAdvisor’s #1 New Orleans attraction, call 877-813-3329 or 504-528-1944 or visit nationalww2museum.org.

Story and photos submitted by Brittany Tepper, Marketing Director, for Naper Settlement.


Visitors will find this emblem at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (PN File Photo)

Editor’s Note / Commemorate Memorial Day on Mon., May 25, 2020, a special tribute to all men and women as well as their families that have given the ultimate sacrifice to protect this nation’s freedoms. In Naperville, honoring the military personnel who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces begins with an observance arranged by members of the American Legion Post 43, Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873 and the Naperville Municipal Band. 

Pre-parade flag-raising services at local cemeteries and parks begin at 7:45AM, followed by the City’s annual Memorial Day Parade that again steps off at 10:30AM. At the completion of the parade in Central Park, a special observance with patriotic music and a wreath laying begins at noon.

Registration is now in progress to participate with a qualified group or musical entry in the parade. Find details at Naperville Memorial Day Parade.  

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.
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