Meredith Exhibition Explores Military History

An exhibition using toy and miniature soldiers to illustrate military history is on view in Carlyle Campbell Library this fall. A ceremony to formally open the Neustadt Exhibit, featuring toy and miniature soldiers on loan from an alumna's family, was held on September 30, 2013.

The exhibit is on display in cases on the main floor and second floor of the Carlyle Campbell Library and will continue throughout the fall 2013 semester.

The Neustadt Collection is a military history exhibit made possible by the generosity of the Neustadt family in cooperation with Dan Fountain, Greg Vitarbo and John Kincheloe. Bill Neustadt, husband of alumna Ginger Neustadt, ’05, began collecting miniature soldiers early in life and has combined his hobby with a lifelong passion for history. The pieces on loan in the Carlyle Campbell Library have become part of an exhibit dedicated to many periods of military history but with a particular emphasis on the great colonial conflicts leading towards the American Revolution. Scenes from colonial conflicts between the British and French as well as the British and American colonists are featured in exhibit case displays of Fort Ticonderoga and Redoubt #10 from the Battle of Yorktown. Other cases present examples of military events, uniforms, weaponry and notable figures from many eras of warfare.

At the ceremony, Hannah Thornton, ’14, talked about her work developing the exhibit pamphlets and labeling as part of a summer undergraduate research project. Thornton, who is pursuing a history degree and plans to teach social studies, researched both the history of toy and miniature soldiers and the historic events depicted in the exhibition. She also used public history skills to develop materials to supplement the exhibition.

“I created pamphlets and exhibit labels to provide context to these figures,” Thornton said. “I had to consider my primary audience – college students – and create products that would draw their attention to the exhibit.”

Thornton’s experience with the Neustadt Exhibit ignited an interest in the history of toy soldiers that she plans to expand into a thesis. “This project opened my eyes to parts of history I had glanced over,” Thornton said. “I love showing the fun, interesting parts of history.”

The event was a continuation of Meredith’s Constitution Day observation. Other speakers at the ceremony were Meredith College President Jo Allen, alumna Ginger Alexander Neustadt, Regent of the Samuel Johnston Chapter of the North Carolina Daughters of the American Revolution, and collector Bill Neustadt.

Ginger Neustadt talked about the importance of the Constitution, and the DAR’s role in creating Constitution Week. Bill Neustadt talked about the origins of his collection, and took questions from the audience. He emphasized the historic and artistic value of military figures and toy soldiers, which use intricately detailed figures to help bring history to life.

Learn more about studying history at Meredith

Melyssa Allen

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