Did you know that Tuscaloosa was home to a major WWII hospital? The Service Men’s Center catered to the wounded soldiers there, in addition to holding activities for soldiers at their facility (which is now the University Club). This massive scrapbook contains photographs, newspaper clippings, Army publications, and personal correspondence, including cards and letters. Click the picture below to view the scrapbook:
A note in the online finding aid tells the story:
“The Tuscaloosa Junior Chamber of Commerce established the Service Men’s Center, a facility for entertaining military personal stationed in the area, in January 1943. Mrs. Elizabeth Morley was its hostess. The Center was originally intended to host young American, British, and French men who were in the Army Specialized Training Program at the University of Alabama, pilots training at the Van De Graff Airport, and Air Corps cadets training at the University of Alabama. Over one hundred carefully chosen ladies between the ages of eighteen and thirty served as hostesses to these young, healthy men.
Soon, however, the healthy men left Tuscaloosa and were replaced by wounded soldiers at the Northington General Hospital in Tuscaloosa. Northington was constructed in 1943 and during the war became the world’s largest burn hospital, specializing in plastic surgery. The hostesses not only entertained soldiers at the Service Men’s Center, they also visited soldiers at Northington, where the auditorium served as a dance hall.
The hostesses offered therapy though kindness to scarred soldiers and helped them re-enter the public world. The service center provided a safe environment for service men to spend time with young ladies from Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama and to enjoy games, sports, dinners, dances, plays, and other activities.”
The Veterans Memorial Park adjacent to University Mall was built on the site of the old Northington General chapel.