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Fife History Museum features World War II exhibit

From farmers to service

Photo courtesy of the Fife History Museum

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Centrally located in the South Puget Sound, the city of Fife is today a hub of business, retail and industry, boasts an award-winning school district and features great parks and community activities year round.

However, the Fife of the past was a small farming community. And like many other communities of yesteryear, the World War II era touched the lives of its residents in poignant ways.

Today's generations can now hear their powerful stories.

The Fife History Museum has captured this moment in time with its new exhibit, "Rights, Rations, Remembrance: Fife in World War II," which makes its debut the evening of Sept. 12. What makes this particular exhibit special is that it shares the artifacts, letters, interviews and remembrances of actual Fife residents during the era. These community contributions, along with the museum's collection, take patrons on a significant and interesting journey back in time.

The museum's Managing Director Molly Wilmoth, curator of the new exhibit, is proud to share the history of this bygone era. However, it took a little detective work at first to create the innovative exhibit.

"After spending some time looking through what the museum had accessioned over the years, I noticed that there were many military uniforms," Wilmoth said. "After digging around further, I had found so many World War II-era artifacts that I thought it might be a good use of our collection to create a World War II exhibit.

"Instead of simply telling another World War II story, I decided to utilize the amazing stories of Fife residents from the time period using their artifacts, letters and interviews. It was also important to tell the story of Japanese internment in this exhibit since Fife was the home of hundreds of Japanese American men, women and children during that time."

Wilmoth has her favorites in the collection.

"(The) artifacts that I most enjoy include carvings and crochet work from Camp Minidoka, letters between a military medic and his family, medals and flight record of a B-24 bombardier, and ration books and yearbooks from the time."

In addition to the World War II exhibit, there are other featured exhibits in the museum on display for visitors to enjoy. In fact, the museum building and grounds itself have historic significance. The 1950 home the museum is housed in once belonged to Louis Dacca, a Fife farmer and one of the original city council members (Fife was incorporated in 1957).

"The city of Fife acquired the building in 2000, and the museum opened with the help of the Fife Historical Society several years later," Wilmoth said. "Since then, the museum has curated various exhibits, the most popular to date being a wedding dress exhibit featuring dresses from the late 1800s to the present. Current exhibits include "Cultures of Fife" that highlight the immigrant communities that settled the area, "Little Fife Schoolhouse" with memorabilia from Fife's school history, and the new World War II exhibit. The Fife Historical Society also manages the Dacca Barn, which has become a rental facility as well as the venue where the museum hosts some of its programming."

The Fife History Museum is at 2820 54th Ave. E. in Fife. It is open Wednesdays, noon to 4:30 p.m.; Fridays, noon to 5 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and Sundays, noon to 4:30 p.m.

Admission to the museum is free.

For more information, to make a donation, or to volunteer at the museum, call 253.896.4710.

This fall, there are guest lecturers, hands-on art seminars, and other great events for the whole family planned. Google the museum and sign up for the museum newsletter to receive the latest details.

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