Cal U to Host WWII Exhibition

Jul 05, 2018

California University of Pennsylvania will host 'We Can Do It! WWII,' a traveling exhibition from the Senator John Heinz History Center, in association with the Smithsonian Institution, July 30-Oct 5.

world war II exhibition

Dan Zyglowicz, University archives and special collections technician, inspects a World War II-era flag that will be on display in Manderino Library.


Visitors to the exhibit will learn about the development of the jeep, a uniquely American invention produced by the American Bantam Car Company in Butler, Pa., and hear the stories behind Rosie the Riveter and the local Tuskegee Airmen, whose contributions helped to turn the tide of the war.

 Cal U alumni, faculty, staff and students also have contributed items to the exhibition, and local historical societies also will have items from their collections on display.

“The most exciting part for us has been to connect with local Word War II veterans and their families, including a few who were students at California State Teachers College, and to learn just how many students of this college served in the war,” said William Meloy, chair of the Department of Library Services.

“We had bomber pilots, fighter pilots, infantry, anti-aircraft gunners, women in the Navy and Army and so much more. We are very thankful for our local history society partners in Donora, California, Monessen, Fayette County, Brownsville and Monongahela for allowing us to exhibit artifacts from their collections.”

Jean Hale, executive director of community and corporate relations at Cal U, shared her mother’s collection of identification cards, dog tags and troop assignments.

A scrapbook includes a series of letters pertaining to her father, Thomas L. Cuccaro: the first to inform the family of his death, the second to explain that the information was unconfirmed, and the last to state that he was alive but had been taken prisoner.

“It just seemed like the right time for me to share not only my dad’s story, but my mother’s remarkable stewardship of these materials,” she said.

This fall, Cal U Honors Program students will continue an ongoing digital storytelling project under the direction of Dr. Christina Fisanick, from the English Department, by documenting military service, life in the United States and industry in southwestern Pennsylvania during World War II.

Exhibition Hours

We Can Do It! WWII, a traveling exhibition, is open to the public July 30-Oct. 5 in Manderino Library. Admission is free. Hours are:

  • July 30-Aug. 24: Noon-4 p.m. Monday-Friday.
  • Aug. 27-Oct. 5: noon-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday; noon-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday;1-5 p.m. Sunday.
  • Closed Labor Day weekend.

Pay-by-meter parking is available in campus lots 11 and 17.

For more information visit 

Special Public Events 

  • 6-8 p.m. Aug. 15, third floor, Manderino Library: Members of local historical societies will be on hand to discuss their collections. 
  • Noon-1 p.m. Sept. 12, Manderino Library, Room 208: Dr. David Lonich, a retired social studies teacher and former adjunct professor at Cal U, will discuss life in America during World War II.
  • Noon-1 p.m. Sept. 14, Manderino Library, Room 208: Americans who experienced the war as civilians will join Dr. Charles Stacey, a member of the Donora Historical Society, to share memories, discuss wartime efforts and take audience questions.