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Durham Museum Will Display Items from Boys Town's 100-year History Through Jan. 21

Copyright of Kent Sievers, The World-Herald

This article is written by Blake Ursch, World-Herald staff writer. It was posted on on October 13, 2017.

The black leather briefcase bears three letters: EJF.

Father Edward J. Flanagan used this bag to carry letters and documents when he traveled Europe and Asia, visiting impoverished children in the years following World War II.

The bag is one of several Boys Town artifacts on display at the Durham Museum, 801 S. 10th St., as part of the museum's new exhibit "Let's Go To Town For Boys Town! 100 Years of Saving Children, Healing Families." The exhibit opens to the public Saturday and will be on display through Jan. 21.

The collection celebrates the upcoming 100th anniversary of the founding of Boys Town. On Dec. 12, 1917, Flanagan began his legendary children's home with five boys in the rundown Byron Reed Mansion at 25th and Dodge Streets.

Photographs and objects displayed at the Durham trace the story of Boys Town's rise. Visitors can see a stone from the original mansion, Flanagan's vestments and a flag, given to Flanagan by the City of Baltimore, commemorating the 800 former Boys Town residents who were killed in World War II.

The exhibit also includes an original poster and memorabilia from the 1938 film "Boys Town," starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. The Durham hosted the world premiere of the film the year it was released, said Thomas Lynch, director of community programs at Boys Town.

"The movie is really special because it put Boys Town on the map," Lynch said.

Some of the items on display at the Durham, such as Flanagan's vestments, are usually packed away for safekeeping at the Boys Town Hall of History, Lynch said.

Jessica Brummer, spokeswoman for the Durham, said organizers are hoping the exhibit exposes Boys Town to an audience that may not have visited the campus on West Dodge Road.

The time of year is fortunate, she said: The museum is always busiest during the holiday season.

"Being able to have this on display for visitors during this time is wonderful," she said.