Captivating Italy in Wyoming: Italian Prisoners of War in the Cowboy State


Laura E. Ruberto (Berkeley City College)

This paper focuses on a World War II Italian prisoner of war (POW) camp in Douglas, Wyoming, which housed about 2000 Italian POWs. I analyze the vernacular art made by prisoners, including seventeen Western-themed painted murals, other paintings and sculptures. Through oral histories, memoir, and material culture, I unpack the lived experiences of the POWs as well as of the communities they met in the U.S. Highlighting the POW’s Wyoming stories helps illustrate how local histories are tied to larger, global events and how on-going memory work of former POW family members in Italy creates new ways of understanding.

Part of 27-04 Oral, Written, and Material Narrations of Italian Captivity in WWII , Tuesday, October 19, 7:00 pm–8:30 pm