The Second World War had a dramatic impact on the everyday lives of people across the country, and while far from the fighting, the residents of Maine’s remote offshore islands also were profoundly affected by the war overseas.
The multimedia online exhibition World War II: On-Island and Abroad incorporates oral histories, artwork, letters, memoirs, film footage, and newspaper clippings to tell the stories of the islanders who went to war, and those who remained on-island.
Before the U.S. entered the war, Monhegan Island residents were well aware of the growing threat as a U.S. military presence became ever more apparent in the sky and sea around the island.
With a year-round population of only 97 at that time, Monhegan sent 14 men to fight abroad, some enlisting directly from high school. The Monhegan residents who remained behind united in support of the war and actively engaged in civil defense through enforced blackouts, support of war bonds/loans, engagement in the Red Cross, and other activities.
With the country at war, the light and fog keepers of Monhegan were under the control of the U.S. Navy, and Coast Guard troops were stationed in the lighthouse and patrolled the backside of the island, punching in at a checkpoint built on Whitehead.
Fewer summer residents and visitors came during the war years, and some year-round residents left the island.
Monhegan sent 14 men to fight abroad, some enlisting directly from high school.
After the war, change came in many ways, with several war veterans making their home on Monhegan after connecting with islanders they met while abroad.
World War II: On-Island and Abroad has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.
The Monhegan Museum of Art & History is located in the historic Monhegan Island Light Station, 12 nautical miles off the coast of Maine. The Monhegan Lighthouse Keeper’s House contains exhibits of Monhegan’s history and the Assistant Keeper’s House has an art gallery that features exhibitions from the museum’s art collection, which spans more than 150 years.
Additionally, the Rockwell Kent/James Fitzgerald Historic Artists’ Home and Studio display a collection of works by Fitzgerald.
The museum is open daily from June 24 through Sept. 30, during which time the Kent/Fitzgerald Home and Studio are open two days a week and by appointment. For more information see: www.monheganmuseum.org