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Keirn Family World War II Museum

The Keirn Family World War II Museum at Saint Francis University (Loretto, Pa.) is a significant collection that captures the essence of the “Greatest Generation” and paints a picture of life in the 1940s that goes far beyond the battlefield as told through the stories of the men and women of Pennsylvania. 

  • About the Museum

    Pearl Harbor AvengersThe Keirn Family World War II Museum at Saint Francis University houses several special collections of artifacts and oral history projects. The origins of the primary collection lie with Altoona resident Joseph E. Keirn, a retired Command Sergeant Major in the United States Army.

    An avid preservationist of WWII memorabilia, CSM Keirn used his collection as an educational tool, welcoming students and community groups to tour it and learn about life during the war. In 2014, he donated his collection to Saint Francis University to ensure that it would continue to be used to educate future generations regarding the legacy of the war. His once private collection, combined with additional donations, is now available for public viewing and scholarly research.

  • Plan Your Visit


    Keirn Family World War II Museum Building

    Location

    160 St. Mary's Street 
    Loretto, Pennsylvania

    Hours of Operation

    Wednesday & Friday  
    1:00 - 4:00 p.m.  (when the university is in session) or by appointment.

    Request a tour:  
    814-472-0740
    ww2museum@francis.edu

    Admission: free

  • Exhibits

    PERIOD ROOM
    In this room, you will be immersed in the atmosphere of a World War  II era living room that will provide insights and local stories about the home front.

    BUILD UP TO THE WAR
    These exhibits highlight the build up to war in Europe and Asia prior to U.S. entrance in December 1941. Our archival collection houses numerous Nazi artifacts brought back by soldiers who served in the European theater.

    TIMELINE ROOM

    This room provides an overview of World War II, as told by local veterans in sources including oral history interviews, letters, photographs, mess kits, and weaponry.

    INTERACTIVE EXHIBITS
    You can write letters or cards to give to local veterans or to veterans serving overseas. There are other interactive displays that allow you to reflect on the lessons of war and share your personal stories with other visitors.

    Special Collections

    ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
    We want to capture the memories of World War II from those who experienced it or from their family members. Please contact us if you are interested in sharing your story or your family members’ story. We have oral history interviews from local World War II veterans or their family members and we are very interested in conducting an interview with you!

    THE JOSEPH E. & SHIRLEY J. KEIRN WORLD WAR II COLLECTION
    Our generous donors, Joseph E. and Shirley J. Keirn, collected numerous artifacts and personal effects from World War II veterans. Their contributions have preserved numerous histories that would otherwise be lost.

    SPECIAL COLLECTIONS
    Several individuals, including Vincent Hagg ’50, and the family of Renato Ferretti ’43, have donated artifacts, papers, and personal items Please visit the museum to hear more about these and other collections as well as the donors’ wall of honor.

    DONATE AN ARTIFACT

    Our collection is continually growing and we accept certain donation of World War II artifacts, especially from Pennsylvanians. If you have any questions about whether an artifact might fit in our collection, please contact us.

    Educational Opportunities

    As a part of Saint Francis University, education and interaction are central to our mission. Students may conduct research in our archival collections and local schools, veterans’ groups, and community organizations are welcome for personalized tours.

    Give/Honor

    We offer several options for preserving the memory of World War II and our community’s history:

    BECOME A MEMBER
    Joining our membership program shows your commitment to preserving the history and stories of World War II. As a member, you will receive notification of special events and our newsletters. 

    LEGACY DONATION
    Give a gift in honor of or in memory of a friend or family member. You can also give donations as retirement, graduation, birthday, anniversary, or in recognition of military service gifts. The name of the person honored or memorialized will be displayed on our website. 

    PROVIDE AN ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW
    We want to capture the memories of World War II from those who experienced it or from their family members. Please contact us if you are interested in sharing your story or your family members’ story. We have oral history interviews from local World War II veterans or their family members and we are very interested in conducting an interview with you!

    VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
    If you were a veteran, Rosie the Riveter, or served in some way during World War II, please consider speaking to students in our museum. You can contact us to let us know about your interest and we will arrange a visit.

    If you are interested in volunteering to help with archival work, museum curation, or special events, please contact us.

    GENERAL DONATION
    You can also make a one-time donation to support the preservation of artifacts and continued student research in our collections.

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