War Stories: Hard Earned. Unforgettably Told.

The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia



A print created by Noah Kolasinski in November 2012 when he was in third grade at Fort Dix Elementary School. Courtesy of Rosenbach Museum and Library.

The Rosenbach Museum & Library launched War Stories: Hard Earned. Unforgettably Told., an exhibition and program for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and their families, based on historical letters written by soldiers. The project began with a series of writing workshops for military families (school-aged children with at least one parent in active duty), and student veterans returned from active duty, in which participants worked with historic documents, and were encouraged to write about their own experiences. The creative writing aspect of the program, which was collaboratively planned by historians, psychologists, social workers, and writers, dealt with post-traumatic stress and other issues that veterans and their families face, revealing the strategies that soldiers have used for centuries to cope with the horrific experiences of war. Following the workshops, the Rosenbach created an exhibition and an accompanying publication that featured the creations of workshop participants alongside objects from the Rosenbach's collections. The publication has since been distributed to military families across the country.