WWII memorial book goes on display at Frist

Feb. 14, 2002, 11:50 a.m.

The opening of the World War II memorial book display will be marked by a public reception at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 22, on the 100 level of the Frist Campus Center. The Rev. Thomas Breidenthal, dean of religious life and dean of the chapel, will give the invocation. The University community is invited to join alumni from the 1930s and 1940s who are expected to attend.

As the names of the first casualties among the troops fighting in Afghanistan have begun appearing in newspapers, an exhibit at the University is remembering those lost in another war.

A memorial book containing the names of Princetonians who gave their lives in World War II will go on display in the Frist Campus Center on Friday, Feb. 22. The exhibit, located on the 100 level in an alcove display area, marks the 60th anniversary of America's first full year of involvement in the war.

The book was first displayed in Nassau Hall's Memorial Hall during George Washington's birthday exercises on Feb. 22, 1946. For most of the time since then, it has been stored in the University archives.

"I came across the book rather serendipitously about eight or nine years ago when Ben Primer (University archivist) was helping me look for something else at Mudd Manuscript Library ," said Rand Mirante, associate director of annual giving and one of the exhibit's organizers. "I was fascinated and very moved by it. The idea of displaying it came to me as the result of having seen memorial books listing Scottish dead in the World Wars in Edinburgh Castle." Mirante worked with the development and library staffs to prepare the exhibit.

The memorial book was conceived and designed by Jean Labutut, a Princeton architecture professor, as a "sacred archive." Each page of the book contains the name, branch of service, and place and date of death of each Princetonian to die in World War II as well as the Princeton shield and the same Latin inscription used in the World War I memorial panels in Nassau Hall. Translated it reads, "Alma Mater keeps in eternal memory her sons who laid down their lives for their country." Within each war year, names are listed in chronological order by date of death.

A page was added each time a death was announced, and a duplicate of the page was given to the family of the fallen man. At the time it was first displayed, 329 Princeton men were known dead, a ratio of one death to every 30 Princetonians in service. Later, the number increased to 355.

The exhibit will be on display at Frist for nearly a year. One page of the book will be turned each day to honor and commemorate all who served in the conflict.

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601