“The League of Wives: Vietnam’s POW/MIA Allies and Advocates.” That’s the title of a compelling special exhibit now on view (through December 31) at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
The exhibit, which opened May 7, offers an in-depth, multimedia look at the wives of American Vietnam War POWs who banded together in the late 1960s to demand that the U.S. government step up its efforts to account for their husbands and help bring them home from the Hanoi Hilton and other North Vietnamese prison camps.
Based on the work of historian Heath Hardage Lee, the exhibit focuses on the pioneering work of POW wives Sybil Stockdale, Jane Denton, Louise Mulligan, Phyllis Galanti, and Helene Knapp who started the Vietnam War POW/MIA movement when they formed the National League of POW/MIA Families. Lee, who curated the exhibit, is the author of what promises to be an eye-opening book on the POW wives, The League of Wives: A True Story of Survival and Rescue on the Homefront, which will be published by St. Martin’s Press in 2019.
The exhibit includes documents, photographs, oral histories, and memorabilia from the Dole Archives and from the POW/MIA families’ personal collections and other institutions. After it closes at the end of the year, “The League of Wives” will travel to the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum and then to the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond.