Photographs taken by Ottawan J.B. Muecke, documenting Midwestern life in World War II, can be viewed in a new exhibit starting this weekend.
Old Depot Museum, 135 W. Tecumseh St., Ottawa, is hosting a grand opening of “Home Front in the Heartland, Revisited,” 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free that day.
Muecke was a freelance photographer whose work was frequently published in the Ottawa Herald. His photographs show small town life, and created “iconic images of Midwesterners ‘doing their bit’ to support the country’s struggle against the Axis Powers,” according to an news release
Photographs include men listening to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor speech, farmers collecting scrap metal, and Boy and Girl Scouts supporting war bond rallies. The exhibit “examines the patriotism and sacrifice typical of Midwesterners during the early 1940s,” the news release said.
Also included will be the experience of German Prisoners of War who were housed in Franklin County. Muecke’s photographs depict these POWS working on farms, while other young men were serving overseas.
“Some of these POWs developed positive relationships with Franklin Countians and remained in touch long after returning to their homeland,” the news release said. “A collection of letters between POWs to their Franklin County friends will be on display.”
Before Muecke passed away in 1985, E. Morgan Williams, who was originally from Ottawa, bought a box of decaying photograph negatives located in a dirt-covered basement. Williams then donated the 6,000 images to the Franklin County Historical Society.
The exhibit will continue through Nov. 12. For more information, call the Old Depot at (785) 242-1250.