Exhibition on GreekImmigration and on a Greek-American World War I HeroWill Be on Display at the Somerville (MA) Museum

SOMERVILLE, MA--From September 10, 2006 through March 25, 2007, a fascinating, thought-provoking two-part exhibition--New Lives in a New Land: Immigration in Somerville & the Greater Boston Area--TheGreekCommunity and Hope, Valor, and Inspiration: 1896-1918: TheWorld of George Dilboy--GreekImmigrant and AmericanHero--will be at the Somerville Museum, One Westwood Road, Somerville,MA 02143.This exhibition, organized by the Somerville Museum and Historic Somerville,Inc. will chronicle:

  • the Greek migration to the Somerville-Greater Boston area during the past century
  • the contributions that these newcomers to America's shores have made and
  • George Dolby, the Greek immigrant from Alatsata in Asia Minor/Somerville resident who became the first Greek-American to be awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor.

The sacrifices and the opportunities that these Greek immigrants made are as real today as they were a century ago. But, all too often, the efforts and the achievements of those immigrants decades ago are fading from memory. To help keep these activities and the patriotism and values that were made clear by World War I alive, this exhibition will provide the exhibition's audience with a variety of stimulating ideas and insights into the past. And equally important, the exhibition will allow a look at lives and actions from a century ago that can be truly inspiring today.

Among the displays in the exhibitions are

  • Timeline--of world and Somerville events, Greek immigration to the United States, and Greek immigration to Somerville and the surrounding areas, including the Greek community at Brickbottom and the role of the church
  • Images of the community--faces and architecture
  • Mapping the immigration--an opportunity for visitors to pinpoint the paths of their families to the U.S.
  • Oral histories--with visitors encouraged not only to listen to these histories, but also to record/write their remembrances
  • Artifacts associated with Greek immigrants to this region in their personal and religious life
  • Background music of Greek instrumental music and songs from the Asia Minor region
  • George Dilboy's life--including his participation in combat prior to World War I and his actions inWWI which resulted in his being awarded the Medal ofHonor, as well as subsequent events associated with George Dilboy which reflect 20th century world history--as recorded in newspaper reports, photos, poetry, medals, portraits, statues and other memorabilia
  • Understanding the WWI action for which Dilboy received the MOH, plus other aspects of life in those times, including movie footage ofWWI military actions, archival records of short radio talks given during WWI by notable persons to rally support, various WWI posters in aid of the war efforts by noted artists, and military paraphernalia
  • The Medal ofHonor--its evolution over the years
  • Traditional Greek costumes and other textiles

To make the exhibition even more encompassing, the organizers would like to hear from you if you have photographs, documents, or other artifacts relating to the Greek immigration experience in Somerville and the surrounding areas in the first decades of the 1900s (e.g. relating to housing, education, work, religious and social life, military service) or to George Dilboy. If you do, please contact the exhibition curator, Susan Schur, (Tel: 617-623-4488) or the Museum (Tel: 617-666-9810).

Opportunities also exist for various levels of sponsorship for the exhibition and for several special events that will be held in connection with the exhibit.A sheet describing these opportunities is available from the Museum.

Exhibition Highlights

Exhibition Introduction Area
  • Flag Display--United States,Greece,Medal of Honor
  • Dilboy Portrait (loan from the Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center,Chicago)

New Lives in a New Land: Immigration in Somerville and the Greater Boston Area

  • Timeline of World and Somerville Events,GreekImmigration to the U.S., and Greek Immigration to Somerville and the Surrounding Areas, including the Brickbottom community and the role of the church--illustrated with photographs, line arts, and tables
  • Images of the Community--faces and architecture
    Mapping the Immigration--world map with the opportunity for visitors to pinpoint their families' paths to the U.S. and artistic map/representation of the Greek communities of Asia Minor
  • Oral Histories--with visitors encouraged not only to listen to these histories but to record/write their remembrances
  • Artifacts Associated with Greek Immigrants to this Region; Their Personal and Religious Life--including original birth and wedding certificates fromGreek immigrant, church icons and banners, textiles, and similar items
  • Background music of Greek instrumental music and songs from the Asia Minor region

Hope, Valor, and Inspiration: 1896-1918: The World ofGeorge Dilboy--Greek Immigrant and American Hero

  • AHEPA's 1930s Commemorative Bust--mounted statues at each entrance to the exhibition room
  • George Dilboy's Life--descriptions, illustrations, and newspaper reports relating to his participation in military actions prior to World War I (the Mexican campaign, the Balkan War) and his heroic actions inWWI which resulted in his being awarded the Medal ofHonor (the first Greek-American to receive this honor); as well as the subsequent events which reflect world history--the international incident of the desecration of his grave, the U.S. military's rescue and transport of his remains fromAsia Minor for reburial in ArlingtonCemetery, the Nazi looting of his MOH from his relatives inCrete during WWII, and the presentation of a duplicate MOH in Athens in 1999 by American Ambassador Burns to a Dilboy relation
  • Dilboy's Memorialization Throughout the World Since the 1930s, including
    • statues in Somerville, New Hampshire, Illinois, France, and Greece (photographs)
    • the George Dilboy Clubs formed during World War II to support the war effort (photographs)
    • portraits in various locations (photographs and loaned painting)
  • George Dilboy Memorial Foundation
  • Other Honors Awarded toGeorge Dilboy--including medals and citations
  • The World War I Action for which George Dilboy Received the MOH, including
    • maps and description of the Belleau Woods battle, as well as the Chateau Thierry region events
    • pages from the "Stars and Stripes" reporting on this and related WWI events (reproduction pages)
  • Footage of WWI military actions--from the NationalArchives
  • Archival Recordings of the Short Talks Given during WWI by Notable Persons (Gen.Pershing, President Wilson, and others) in Aid of theWar Effort--from the Library of Congress
  • Medal of Honor--history and other interesting facts and illustrations
  • World War I Posters--the Liberty Bonds poster "America's Immortals" which featured GeorgeDilboy and a selection of WWI posters by famous artists focusing on areas such as recruitment, LibertyBond drives, the immigrant's role, ship building, and after-the-war job help; many of these vibrant posters are the original versions, on loan from the Massachusetts Historical Society
  • An Interpretation of WWI Posters--as an educational component of the exhibition, Somerville  High School art students have created their concepts of a WWI era poster; several will be on display
  • Costumes--on the Bulfinch staircase in the exhibition room, mannequins will display traditional Greek clothing for children, men, and women
  • Military paraphernalia--Doughboy outfit and other gear/equipment
  • A Small "Taverna"--to give an idea of the coffeehouses favored byGreek immigrants, with details on these gathering places plus more information on the various components of the exhibit

Exhibition Committee

Honorary Chair--Michael S.Dukakis

Executive Committee--Evelyn M.Batinelli, George S.Colt, MaryLimberakis, Barbara Mangum, Michael O'Connell, CarolPoulos Salvo, Anthoula Rozakis, Susan E.Schur, Panos Spiliakos, George Tsitsopoulos, JohnVasilakis

About George Dilboy

Born: February 05, 1896 at Greece
Entered Service: Keene, NH
Date/Place of Action: July 18, 1918 - Belleau , France
Unit: Company H, 103d Infantry, 26th Division
Presentation: G.O. 13, WD - January 18, 1919
Date of Death: July 18, 1918 (Killed In Action)
Buried at: Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA

(Facts and photo from Home of Heroes website www.homeofheroes.com/.../ mohW_ww1/page_07.html)

About the Somerville Museum

Located at One Westwood Road, this museum is a showcase for the history, arts, and culture of Somerville.The museum is the mirror of the city, a learning center for school children, an exhibition and performance space for city artists, and a meeting place for Somerville's diverse populations. Serving a city of 76,000, the museum exhibitions draw creatively on contemporary arts and crafts and elements of the permanent collection of photographs, manuscripts and documents, books, and artifacts of social history.
The museum hosts a number of musical events, as well as talks by scholars, activists, and artists. It is a non-profit entity. Although not handicapped accessible, there are public restrooms and phones.  Hours are Thursday, 2-7pm; Friday, 2-5pm; Saturday, noon-5pm. For more information, contact the museum directly at 617-666-9810.

(Posting date 25 May 2006)

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