Our Lives, Our Stories explores the life arc of a single generation—the stories of their lives, told in their words—from birth to old age.
Born in the 1910s and 1920s, this generation of people was decisively shaped by their experiences during the Depression and World War II. They went on to make the “baby boom” and shape the economic boom of the postwar era, and to become some of the twentieth century’s most influential figures. Today—well into the 21st century—we are all living with their legacy. This NEH On the Road traveling exhibition, organized by the Minnesota Historical Society, draws on the stories and memories gathered together to help us begin to understand not only who they were, but who we are.
World War II has never been far from the center of American popular memory—in books, movies, television, museums, and memorials. But in the last decade, attention has shifted from the events and the outsized personalities of the war to the men and women who were on the war’s front lines, at home and abroad, ordinary people who made an extraordinary difference. The focus on the war—which for Americans lasted less than four years—has led us, perhaps, to overlook the experiences of lifetimes. This exhibition seeks to restore a wholeness to these histories, to listen to our elders along the entire arc of their lives.