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June 4, 2009

World War II Sweetheart Jewelry

Filed under: What's New — Matt Anderson @ 8:13 am

Bracelets

The Minnesota’s Greatest Generation exhibit prompted a number of new acquisitions to the collection. Among the most recent is a pair of bracelets made by Duluth native Ralph “Lefty” Brodin in 1943, while he was stationed in North Africa.

Manufactured and handmade jewelry pieces were popular mementos during both World Wars. For girlfriends, fiancées, wives, and mothers back home, these items provided tangible reminders of loved ones overseas. For soldiers, making the jewelry offered a way to pass the time and keep their minds occupied. Brodin crafted his two bracelets from aluminum, and carefully inscribed decorative borders and designs on them. He sent one to his wife, Ethel, and the other to his mother, Lena.

Sometime after making the bracelets, Ralph Brodin was transferred to Europe and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He survived the war and returned home to Duluth to raise three sons with Ethel. Though he never spoke much about his time overseas, Brodin’s family preserved the bracelets and, in doing so, saved a small piece of his wartime experience.

Matt Anderson, Objects Curator

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