SPRINGFIELD, NJ - For local history buffs, the Springfield Public Library offers an absolute gem hidden in plain sight.

The Donald B. Palmer Museum is home to the collection of its namesake. Palmer, who was a long-time Springfield resident and eccentric collector, acquired various firearms, pieces of farming equipment, daily items and more. Thanks to the extensive number of items, the Springfield Free Public Library is able to rotate the collection in and out on display.

The current display, which is open through spring of this year, is all about World War One. Called 'Over Here and Over There,'  it uses a variety of items to tell the story of those who fought in the first world war, and their friends and family back stateside on the homefront.

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Most of the related collection is comprised of various military equipment. Palmer served in World War One, seeing action at the battle of Verdun. His commendation is on display along with several firearms, a military satchel and reprints of propaganda posters. The brightly-colored flyers were vital in maintaining morale at home.

Along with the military component, there are several civilian items. One notable piece of the collection is a pair of shears. During the war, wool was a major need for the military, so citizens banded together to knit socks for soldiers and sailors. The shears would have been used to harvest wool from a sheep to make into the socks that were sent over.

For Library Director Dale Spindel, the exhibit is a great way to bring the information contained in the books to life.

"It's unusual for a public library to have a museum as an integral part of it," Spindel said. "So it's really a great opportunity to be able to provide not only books but also actual items that people can see from that time to give them a better understanding of what the war was and what life was like at that time."

Over Here and Over There is on display through Spring 2019. The library hours are as follows:

  • Mondays-10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Tuesdays-10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Wednesdays-10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Thursdays-10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m
  • Fridays-10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Saturdays-10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Sundays-1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.