The Taneytown History Museum will open for the 2019 spring-summer season at 1 p.m. Sunday, April 7 with a featured exhibit, “World War II Impacts Hometown.”

Members of an exhibit committee, as part of the Taneytown Heritage and Museum Association, the sponsoring organization for the Taneytown museum, spent the offseason collecting, cataloging and setting displays with a myriad of World War II artifacts and memorabilia.


“[The committee] chose this [theme] because the war was about 75 years ago and memories are fading,” said Nancy Eyler, exhibit committee chairperson. “The community has been supportive of all of our exhibits — different themes appeal to different people, so we try to include a variety of different people's interests and loaned artifacts to our exhibits.”

Work began in December with members of the committee researching different aspects of the exhibit.

Different aspects of hometown life during wartime are portrayed in the exhibit. Newspaper clippings from local papers like the Baltimore News-Post and the Baltimore Evening Sun bring the war to the homefront in daily reports. The local theatre would include newsreels along with the feature films. For those lucky enough to have a radio, families gathered around it after supper to listen to dispatches from the likes of Edward R. Murrow and Lowell Thomas, and music by the Band of the Army Air Force, led by Capt. Glen Miller.

Communities took part in the rationing of a variety of items: gasoline, fuel oil, lard, shortening, food oils and more. The first edible commodity to be rationed was sugar. Shortly after that, coffee was rationed, and other items soon followed.

When asked what the one thing she discovered during research that surprised her about Taneytown during WWII, Sandra Crouse, current president of the Taneytown Heritage and Museum Association, said she “was [amazed] how everyone 'pulled together' to help each other and the country.”

Eyler agreed, adding, “Men, women, children, rich, poor, north, south, east west — everyone on the homefront conserved, salvaged, worked at jobs outside their comfort zone and generally supported the military in every way possible. It was a totally united effort.”

Hometown volunteers joined a variety of groups to ensure safety on the homefront. The Civil Defense Organization of Carroll County, established in January 1942, had more than 2,200 volunteers and 32 stations, including several in Taneytown. Volunteers watched for unusual events on land and in the air. Other groups included Maryland Minutemen, Civil Air Patrol, Red Cross and the Taneytown chapter of the British War Relief Society, formed to help victims of bombings in Great Britain.

At the start of U.S. involvement in the war, several manufacturing facilities in Taneytown took up the war effort when awarded government contracts. Shriner Manufacturing made men’s pajamas to be sent off to Army hospitals. A.W. Feeser produced canned peas, corn, and tomatoes, shipping 40 percent of its production to the armed services. Cambridge Rubber Company was contracted by the U.S. government to produce rain gear and boots for troops. Most of the 1,000 workers employed by the company during war time were women.

One of the pieces of memorabilia on display tells the story of determination when students at Taneytown High School actively sought out government contracts through a letter-writing campaign. After countless rejections, the shop classes were awarded a government contract to produce wooden shell cases.

Another item on exhibit shows how letters from home were handled. In order to save space on the transport ships, the war department devised Victory Mail, or V-Mail. Mail from home was censored then microfilmed. When the microfilm reached the destination overseas, it was printed and delivered.

Another part of the exhibit displays local newspaper headlines announcing the end to the war. The May 8th edition of the Evening Sun (Baltimore) announced the “unconditional capitulation to the Western Allies and Russia” of Germany. Three short months later, the Aug. 15, 1945, edition of the Evening Sun (Hanover, PA) announced the unconditional surrender of Japan.

With the surrender of Japan came celebrations across the country, marking the end of war. Taneytown was no different. A newspaper clipping indicated arrangements were being made for “Community Observance” held Sept. 1, 1945.

Don’t forget to spend a few minutes viewing the oral history discussion featuring Taneytown residents reflecting on their memories of life during World War II. On Opening Day, there will be a display of military vehicles of the period and World War II re-enactors.

In addition to the World War II exhibit, the museum holds other items such as a glass case filled with Taneytown High School memorabilia, china from the Antrim Mansion used by the George Washington Clabaugh family during the time they owned the mansion in the late 1800s, and a “then -and-now” photo display featuring the gas stations of the period with photos of what each one looks like now.


The museum gift shop has items for sale including the 12th ornament in the series, a replica of the Taneytown Movie Theatre.

The Taneytown History Museum is at 340 E. Baltimore St. The 2019 hours (beginning April 7) are every Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.