Public Programs

History Talks

“No Mail, Low Morale”: The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion

Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | Virtual and In-person
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Since the Revolutionary War generations of African Americans have served the armed forces, but it was not until World War II that Black women joined the Army as part of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC).

In February 1945 members of the 6888th Central Postal Battalion arrived in Birmingham, England. Nicknamed the “Six Triple Eight,” they were the first and only all-Black WAC unit sent overseas during World War II. They faced the daunting task of sorting and delivering mail to the roughly 7 million service members stationed in the European Theater. Their mission boosted the morale across the entirety of deployed forces. They completed their mission in three months’ time before deploying to France to undertake the same work. The battalion was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of their dedication and service to mission in 2022.

Explore the commitment, challenges, and sacrifices of the Six Triple Eight. Learn how their actions, along with thousands of other Black WACs, contributed to the Allied victory. Examine the legacy of their service and its impact on the civil rights movement.

This program is offered virtually and in-person on Wednesday, July 17. In-person seats are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. 

Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on July 17 at 12 p.m. ET.

Register for the IN-PERSON History Talk on July 17 at 12 p.m. ET.


Fighting for Freedom: Nisei Soldiers in World War II

Wednesday, July 24, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | Virtual and In-person
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Learn about the courageous men and women of Japanese ancestry from Hawaii and the mainland United States who served in the U.S. Army during World War II, while some of their families were placed in War Relocation Authority Confinement Sites.

Second-generation Japanese Americans, known as Nisei, demanded the right to join the Armed Forces during World War II. On Feb. 9, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the relocation of Japanese Americans living on the West Coast. 122,000 men, women, and children were sent to incarceration camps throughout the United States. Further, the government classified males of Japanese ancestry as enemy aliens. This classification disqualified them from military service. The Army later loosened this restriction in June 1942. Despite the odds, thousands of Nisei Soldiers bravely served in World War II.

Explore the commitment, challenges, and sacrifices of the Nisei Soldiers. Participants will examine Executive Order 9906, its impact on Japanese Americans living on the West Coast, and how military service was used as a strategy to advance civil rights.

This program is offered virtually and in-person on Wednesday, July 24. In-person seats are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. 

Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on July 24 at 12 p.m. ET.

Register for the IN-PERSON History Talk on July 24 at 12 p.m. ET.


Women’s Army Corps: Marching into History

Wednesday, August 7, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | Virtual and In-person
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Discover how women in World War II ushered in new economic and social changes that would forever alter the role of women in American society.

Following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States mobilized for war. The Women’s Army Corps brought women into the effort.

Female Soldiers were lauded for their professionalism and commitment. However, as the war dragged on and women’s roles expanded, social pressure to conform to traditional gender roles challenged WAC Soldiers. Some women, burned out by the intensity of wartime service, looked forward to a post-war life built on domesticity. Others hoped to transition into civilian jobs. A few would have liked to build Army careers. A society that accepted women in emergency wartime service proved resistant to permanent change.

Women’s military service was scheduled to end with the war. Recognizing women’s valuable service, military leaders lobbied Congress to make it permanent. In 1948, President Truman signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act. The Act granted women the right to serve as permanent, regular members in all four branches of the military.

Since 1948, the scope of women’s military service has expanded. Today, all military occupational specialties, including combat roles, are open to women. Women’s World War II military service kicked open the door that generations of female Soldiers have since marched through.

This program is offered virtually and in-person on Wednesday, August 7. In-person seats are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. 

Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on August 7 at 12 p.m. ET.

Register for the IN-PERSON History Talk on August 7 at 12 p.m. ET.


The Accomplishment of the ENIAC and the Women Computing Pioneers

Wednesday, August 14, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | Virtual and In-person
Two women rewire a computer that takes up an entire wall

Discover how a talented group of female mathematicians laid the groundwork for the field of computer programming.

Winning World War II required an all-out effort. Thousands of women on the home front answered their country’s call to join the military, industry, and the civil service. In 1943, the U.S. Army recruited seven women mathematicians to set up and operate the Army’s newest top secret weapon: the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC). These unsung heroes wired the electrical connections that enabled the world’s first electronic, digital computer to complete 300 calculations per second. In doing so, they built a framework for the field of computer programming.

Examine how female “computers” solved complex problems, contributing to Army innovations during World War II.

This program is offered virtually and in-person on Wednesday, August 14. In-person seats are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. 

Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on August 14 at 12 p.m. ET.

Register for the IN-PERSON History Talk on August 14 at 12 p.m. ET.


“Can’t Anything Stop These Men?”: U.S. Army Paratroopers Creating Turning Points in World War II

Wednesday, August 21, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | Virtual and In-person
Two Soldiers in front of an airplane. One Soldier inspects the gear of the other soldier.

Just after midnight on June 6, 1944, American paratroopers were dropped behind enemy lines to prepare for an invasion force that would arrive at dawn. The Soldiers’ mission was to capture roadways and establish river crossings to support the D-Day invasion. The use of airborne troops, a vital of part the Allies’ campaign plans, was born out of wartime necessity.

Army airborne units were developed to support the concept of vertical envelopment, or the ability to strike an enemy from behind when ground forces could not go around prepared defenses. Born out of response to German success in Holland and Greece, the U.S. Army grew its airborne units from a small test platoon in 1940, through battalion and regimental combat in North Africa and Italy, to multiple combat-ready divisions by D-Day. Following the invasion, airborne troops would be deployed during Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge and earned a reputation for changing the battlefield as soon as they entered it.

Explore how the U.S. Army developed new technology, training, and strategies to overcome challenges and accomplish the mission. Learn how Army airborne troops contributed to Allied turning points during World War II.

This program is offered virtually and in-person on Wednesday, August 21. In-person seats are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. 

Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on August 21 at 12 p.m. ET.

Register for the IN-PERSON History Talk on August 21 at 12 p.m. ET.


The Road to Revolution: The French and Indian War

Wednesday, September 4, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | Virtual
Wednesday, September 11, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | Virtual
Wednesday, September 18, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | Virtual and In-Person
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Before the American Revolution, a different conflict divided the colonies and set the stage for tension between the colonies and Great Britain. Originally a land struggle between European powers, the French and Indian War provoked resentment toward Great Britain. In this virtual field trip, visitors will investigate the long-reaching effects of the French and Indian War to better understand its powerful relationship to the Revolutionary War.

Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on September 4 at 12 p.m. ET.

Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on September 11 at 12 p.m. ET.

This program is offered virtually and in-person on Wednesday, September 18. In-person seats are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. 

Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on September 18 at 12 p.m. ET.

Register for the IN-PERSON History Talk on September 18 at 12 p.m. ET.


The Monuments Men: Preserving Cultural Heritage During World War II

Wednesday, October 2, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | Virtual
Wednesday, October 9, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | Virtual
Wednesday, October 16, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | Virtual and In-person
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During World War II, a team of historians, museum professionals, scholars, architects, and archivists came together to protect European cultural sites from war damage. Known as the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section, the team spread out throughout Europe and the Pacific to ensure that sites of cultural significance would be preserved and protected for future generations. This work earned them the nickname the Monuments Men.

As the war progressed, their mission evolved to include locating, recovering, and reconstituting works of art that had been looted by Nazis. Through careful intelligence work, the Monuments Men uncovered thousands of stolen artworks across Germany and Austria hidden in salt mines, castles, and other hidden bunkers. Their service prevented the destruction of some of the world’s most famous artworks including Jan Van Eyck’s “Ghent Altarpiece,” Johannes Vermeer’s “The Astronomer,” and Michelangelo’s “Madonna and Child.”

In this History Talk, learn more about the commitment, accomplishments, and sacrifices of the Monuments Men. Understand how their determination and dedication to duty protected and secured European and Japanese culture history and heritage during World War II.

Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on October 2 at 12 p.m. ET.

Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on October 9 at 12 p.m. ET.

This program is offered virtually and in-person on Wednesday, October 16. In-person seats are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. 

Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on October 16 at 12 p.m. ET.

Register for the IN-PERSON History Talk on October 16 at 12 p.m. ET.


Defining “American”: Native American Soldiers in World War I and the Path to Citizenship

Wednesday, November 6, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | Virtual
Wednesday, November 13, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | Virtual
Wednesday, November 20, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | Virtual and In-Person
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From the Revolutionary War through the present day, American Indians have proudly served the U.S. Army often without recognition or the benefits of citizenship.

During World War I, nearly 12,000 Indigenous Soldiers served in the armed forces with distinction. Their actions to protect the nation focused attention on disparities among Indigenous Americans and paved the way for all Indigenous people to enjoy the promise of American citizenship.

In this History Talk, explore the commitment, challenges, and bravery of Native American Soldiers during World War I. Learn how their actions led to citizenship for all Native people and helped lay the groundwork for voting rights.

Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on November 6 at 12 p.m. ET.

Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on November 13 at 12 p.m. ET.

This program is offered virtually and in-person on Wednesday, November 20. In-person seats are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. 

Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on November 20 at 12 p.m. ET.

Register for the IN-PERSON History Talk on November 20 at 12 p.m. ET.


The “Problem of Flight”: The Wright Brothers and the U.S. Army

Wednesday, December 4, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | Virtual
Wednesday, December 11, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | Virtual
Wednesday, December 18, 2024 | 12 p.m. ET | Virtual and In-Person
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On Dec. 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright flew their heavier-than-air machine, over 100 feet in 12 seconds at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. This flight, the first of three that day, marked the world’s first powered, sustained, and controlled airplane flight. During those three short test flights, the aerial age was born.

The Army has frequently been a leader in recognizing and developing new technology and inventions to improve its effectiveness on the battlefield. Following the Wright Brothers’ success, the Army challenged the inventors to provide an aircraft that would carry two passengers, fly 40 miles per hour, and remain airborne for an hour. The result, the Wright Model A, was tested and accepted by the Army in 1909 at Fort Myer, Virginia. The purchase constituted the Army’s first air force.

Discover how the Wright brothers countered the problems of control and balance through experimentation to achieve success. Discover how the U.S. Army harnessed this new technology to improve readiness and learn how in turn that technology impacted civilian life.

Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on December 4 at 12 p.m. ET.

Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on December 11 at 12 p.m. ET.

This program is offered virtually and in-person on Wednesday, December 18. In-person seats are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. 

Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on December 18 at 12 p.m. ET.

Register for the IN-PERSON History Talk on December 18 at 12 p.m. ET.


Explore Past History Talks