75th Anniversary of D-Day Smithsonian Material Culture Forum Webcast

Please join us for a special webcast of the Smithsonian Material Culture forum to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day. From its grand strategy to the personal stories of individual soldiers, the history of D-Day remains a captivating and rich story. To usher in the 75th anniversary of the battle, the Smithsonian offers a series of highly perceptive presentations in its 112th Material Culture Forum. “Forgotten Voices, Forgotten Objects” presents new avenues of historical inquiry, highlighting objects in the Smithsonian and non-Smithsonian collections as well as the research of experts on the topic. RSVP for the webcast here.

The speaker schedule follows:

112th Meeting of the Smithsonian Material Culture Forum

75th Anniversary of D-Day:

Forgotten Voices, Forgotten Objects

Monday, May 13, 2019, 4–6 p.m. EDT

Michelle Delaney, Senior Program Officer for History and Culture, Smithsonian Office of the Provost and Under Secretary for Museums, Education, and Research and Todd Kinser, Chief of Exhibit Planning, Smithsonian Exhibits

Susan Ades, Director, Smithsonian Exhibits

Richard B. Frank, a lawyer and military historian, has written several books and articles on the Pacific Campaign of World War II, including Guadalcanal: The Definitive Account of the Landmark Battle (1990), Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japan Empire (1999), and MacArthur (2007).

Speakers will give lightning talks on a variety of topics, followed by Q&A.

Kate Clarke Lemay, Ph.D

Historian/Director of Portal = Portraiture + Analysis

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Coordinating Curator, Smithsonian Women’s History Initiative

Topic: “Gratitude, Trauma and Repression: D-Day in French and American Collective Memory”

Description: This presentation will focus on personalizing the memory of D-Day: how do memorials create official versus vernacular/local/personal memory? How does material culture inform memory? Whose responsibility is it to maintain memorials? Who gets remembered? Who gets forgotten?


Frank A. Blazich, Jr., Ph.D

Curator, Modern Military History

National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

Topic: “The Magic Boxes of D-Day: How One Humble Invention Helped Make Operation Neptune Possible”

Description: How technology can be simple but when employed in an innovative fashion, also transformative.


Laura Oviedo, Ph.D, ABD

Smithsonian Fellow, Division of Armed Forces

National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

Topic: “Belonging in War and Nation: Latina/os & World War II

Description: This presentation highlights the experiences of Latinos in D-Day and discusses the significance of Latina/o participation during World War II.


Image credit: Master Sgt. Wallace B. “Jack” Jackson of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion retrieved these objects from the Normandy beachhead to remind him of D-Day. He collected three rocks and carefully inscribed each “D-Day June 6, 44.” He also collected an ammunition shell casing and a German-manufactured package of bandages. Collection of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Krewasky A. Salter, Ph.D

(Guest) Associate Curator

National Museum of African American History & Culture,
Smithsonian Institution

Topic: “African Americans, D-Day and World War II”

Description: This presentation will highlight African Americans on D-Day, using a few select objects from the D-Day invasion currently on display at NMAAHC. It will also emphasize other African American experiences during World War II.


Rebecca Head Trautmann

Project Curator, National Native American Veterans Memorial

National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution

And  Herman J. Viola, PhD.

Senior Advisor, National Native American Veterans Memorial, and Curator Emeritus, Smithsonian Institution

National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution

Description: As part of its NMAI Veterans Memorial project research, this presentation will feature the story of Charles Norman Shay who served at Normandy and has been honored with a memorial overlooking Omaha Beach and some of the other stories of Native American service connected to D-Day.


Megan Harris

Reference Specialist, Veterans History Project

Library of Congress

Topic: “I Hardly Know Where to Start”: Personal Narratives of D-Day within Veterans History Project Collections

Description: This presentation will include a discussion of two unique items00a scrapbook and a personal diary—submitted by D-Day veterans Felix Adams and Homer Hall to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.


Greg Elder

Chief Historian, Office of Corporate Communications

Defense Intelligence Agency

Topic: Intelligence Support to Operation OVERLORD

Description: Intelligence and counterintelligence played a critical role in the successful D-Day landings. German spies in Britain were captured and turned, codes were broken, operatives collected information behind enemy lines, aerials surveillance provided visibility in German troop movements and fortifications, and a successful deception campaign pointed the Germans to false landing sites. Without the accumulation of information and insight into German operations, the D-Day landing may have ended in disaster.


Image credit: National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Jeremy R. Kinney, Ph.D

Curator, Aeronautics Department

National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Topic: Flak-Bait: A Story of Survival from World War II

Description: American aircrews flew the Martin B-26B Marauder bomber named Flak-Bait on more missions than any other American warplane during World War II, which included three times on D-Day.


Shannon Perich

Curator, NMAH Photographic History Collection

Topic: Exploring Robert Capa’s Iconic D-Day Photographs

Discussion: Revisiting what we know and value about some of the

most well-known photographs of the historic landing on Omaha


5:30—6:00      Q&A—Moderator: Richard Frank, Historian

The Material Culture Forum was organized in 1988 with a mission of maintaining the sense of a scholarly community throughout the Smithsonian museums, libraries, and research and cultural centers.  The Forum considers topics from the vast world of objects that the Smithsonian collects, preserves, studies, and presents.