Imagining the Present

Wadleigh students were not only imagining World War II in relation to what had happened in the past and what would happen in the future. They were also imaginingevents that were happening far away, but present in their daily lives in many different ways.



Students learned about the war through several different mechanisms, from newspapers to personal conversations. Probably none of these made a stronger impact in them than the letters they received from family and friends who had enlisted in the Army. Through these letters, students imagined and connected in personal ways to the war.


The Owl [January 1942]

"Letters from Camp", The Owl January 1942.

In its January 1942 issue, The Owl published “Letters from Camp.” This section included what seemed to be personal letters from soldiers stationed all around the U.S. and even overseas. We do not know if these letters were real; they might have been written by students, during a class excercise. These letters either reflect or fueled the imagination of Wadleigh High School students, leading them to think about the everyday life of soldiers and their personal thoughts and feelings in the context of the war

The Owl [June 1943]

"To all my friends at Wadleigh", The Owl June 1943.


 Sometimes letters came from people even closer to the Wadleigh community. In its June 1943 issue, The Owl published a letter from a Wadleigh former student - "our own Ensign Wilson," The Owl declared. Addressed to "All My Friends at Wadleigh" the letter had the seal of the WAVES program and was presented in front of an article describing the daily life of the women enrolled in it. The letter intended to work as an emotional anchor, allowing the students to imagine the experience of other women who were participating in the war through this program.


Wadleigh students learned about the war around the world in many different ways. This knowledge was important in how they imagined what was going on, but their concerns and desires were essential too.

We invite you to explore the three following galleries. Organized according to the three main formats these girls used - short stories, poems and opinion essays - they present some of the pieces Wadleigh students wrote while imagining World War II.