Traveling Trunks

About the Program

Traveling Trunks

The Traveling Trunk Program was developed to be an extension of the Bong Center into your classroom. This program was funded by a grant from the Duluth-Superior Area Community Foundation.

The trunks will provide schools across the region with unique hands-on opportunities to explore the stories and lessons of the major military conflicts in our nation’s history and explore the history of a few of our Northland Heroes.

Traveling Trunks are a great way for your students to build their historical thinking skills, prompt questions about the past, and share knowledge.

Each trunk focuses on a specific conflict or individual and contains an assortment of items—original or reproduction—that would have been commonly used by soldiers during that time in our nation’s history.  As well as other primary sources and supporting pieces from that era. The contents of these trunks can be used for research or as a hands-on educational resource that piques student interest in history by engaging them in object-based learning. 

Traveling Trunk Details

Each trunk contains uniforms, artifacts, multi-media, lesson aids and activities that illustrate the soldier’s experience or unique story in one of the following conflicts

Civil War Trunk:

What were the key causes of the Civil War? What did soldiers fighting in the Civil War do to keep up morale while away from home? What did utensils look like that they used for eating? With this trunk learn about the life of a soldier, their uniforms and weapons, equipment, and gear and read the story of a Civil War soldier with Northland ties.

World War I:

Why was the First World War considered “the war to end all wars”? What were the most popular songs during the war?  How did soldiers combat the new use of chemical warfare? Read a page from the diary of a WWI soldier. Learn about life in the trenches with key objects including an authentic soldier’s helmet and uniform, mess kit, recruiting posters, and gas mask.


How were WWII soldiers trained and where did they serve? What kinds of equipment did soldiers carry? What was life like on the Homefront? Learn about American involvement and life in the States during WWII. Key objects include authentic WWII uniforms, a soldier’s mess kit, historical magazines, trench art, and maps.  Read about a Superior native who was a gunner on a B-24.


What were the causes of the war in Korea?  What kind of equipment did soldiers need for the cold weather they encountered in the field? With this trunk learn about the daily life of a Korean War soldier with key objects that include authentic Korean War era uniforms, equipment, and historical photographs. Learn about a Duluth native with the 1st Marines who was wounded in the Chosin Reservoir Battle and ultimately received two Purple Hearts. 


What were the major offensives of Vietnam?  What was life like for soldiers in the field?  How did those who were opposed to the war voice their opinions at home? What was the role of music during Vietnam? With this trunk learn about key events in Vietnam, what soldiers wore and did to survive, with key objects including uniforms, helmets, and historical photographs and magazines. Learn about a Superior veteran who was a recovery officer in the field.

Joe Gomer and the Tuskeegee Airmen:

Explore the history making group of African American pilots who helped set the stage for desegregation of the American military.  What was training like for the Tuskeegee Airmen?  What was life like when they served in the European Theater?  With this trunk you’ll learn the history of the Tuskeegee Airmen seen through the eyes of Duluthian Joe Gomer, an Air Force career veteran who served for 20 years before retiring and starting a career with the National Park Service and becoming involved in the Civil Rights movement.  

Major Richard Bong:

Learn about the life of the all time top scoring American Ace, Major Richard Bong, from Poplar, Wisconsin.  What was life like growing up on a rural Wisconsin farm?  What kind of training did he go through?  With this trunk you’ll learn about Major Bong’s life and military accomplishments before his untimely death at only 24 years of age.  Key objects in the trunk include authentic WWII flight jacket and flight suit, flying equipment, maps, historical photographs, and military gear.


Reserve the Trunk

To reserve the trunk download the reservation form by clicking here. All of the rules and informaiton are on the form.

What does it cost?
If you have a future field trip scheduled at the Center the trunks are free of charge if you are able to pick them up and return them to the Center. If you do not have a field trip scehduled there is a $50 rental fee. If not we will deliver and pick up the trunk for a $25 fee for transportation costs inside a 50 mile radius of the center. Outside of the 50 mile radius the fee must be negotiated. We will be able to ship them UPS or FedEx with a return label.

How long may we keep the trunk?
Trunks are loaned for two weeks, inclusive of shipping.  Upon request, they may be renewed for an additional two weeks if the renewal does not conflict with other scheduled requests. Borrowers may come and pick up or return trunks anytime during business hours or by appointment.


Feel free to email us through our contact page.  Or you can contact John Gidley, at 715-392-7151