ECU opens "Day of Infamy" digital exhibit
(Dec. 2, 2002)
East Carolina University will unveil one of the largest online collections of Pearl Harbor memorabilia in existence when the J. Y. Joyner Library opens its new "Day of Infamy, 1941-2001" digital exhibit on Dec. 7.
The exhibit, accessed through the Internet, is devoted to the people and events at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, when a surprise Japanese attack propelled the United States into World War II.
The web address for the exhibit is http://www.lib.ecu.edu/SpclColl/showcase.
The exhibit includes over 200 digitized pages of photographs, letters, diaries, documents, maps, oral history transcriptions, original art, biographical and historical sketches, newspapers, telegrams, and other items. The artifacts give a mental portrait of what the morning was like before the arrival of the Japanese, the confusion and destruction during the attack, the salvage and recovery efforts immediately afterward, and the lasting effects on the American consciousness as a result of these events.
Dr. Jonathan Dembo, the head of the library's Special Collections Department, said the diary entries and oral history transcripts that are included in the exhibit help readers get a sense of Pearl Harbor in a way much more personal and intimate than is possible with ordinary news reports and histories.
He said the diary entries, written while parts of the harbor were still smoldering, allow readers to see just what a sudden and forceful impact this attack had on the journal keepers. The oral history accounts prove just how deep and long lasting was the shock and trauma of that day.
One of the unique features of the exhibit is the inclusion of biographical sketches that provide glimpses into the life stories of those who actually experienced the disaster. These personal chronicles help bring to life the historical sketches, maps, and documents by exploring the attack's effects on the sailors as well as on their vessels.
The collection of materials was originally displayed in glass cases in the library's Special Collections Department from Dec. 7, 2001, to July 4, 2002. The preparation for the original exhibit came while anti-American violence was on the minds of many.
"The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which occurred even as the staff was adding the final details to the exhibit, brought home to all that the lessons of the past were very relevant today," said Dembo.
Joyner Library is one the largest libraries in the state with over one million bound volumes and over one million microforms housed in the library's modern, four-story structure. The library's Special Collections Department contains archival, manuscript and published materials and is open to faculty, visiting scholars, the general public and to ECU's more than 20,000 students. The department includes the East Carolina Manuscript Collection, the University Archives, the Rare Book Collection and the Hoover Collection on International Communism.
It is the official repository for the papers, documents and oral histories for the U. S. Naval Academy's Class of 1941. Many of the personal accounts of the attack at Pearl Harbor, included in the exhibit, were collected from members of the class.
Researchers may gain access to the collections through a variety of catalogs and in-depth finding aids available on site and at http://www.lib.ecu.edu/SpclColl/ead/vault.html.
The "Day of Infamy" exhibit was developed by the Joyner Library Digital Initiatives unit that also produced the "Eastern North Carolina Digital History Exhibits at http://www.lib.ecu.edu/exhibits/.