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  • Monday - Friday: 9:00 am-4:30 pm
  • Saturdays: 10:00 am-4:30 pm
  • Sundays and Holidays: Noon-4:30 pm
  • Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas

Eighty years ago in December 1941, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Congress declared war on the Empire of Japan, Italy, and Nazi Germany. This action followed the December 7 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Hawaii, which was a day, the president said, that will live in infamy.

Years before entering the war, the United States prepared to defend democracy, and Florida was at the forefront. Floridians stepped onto the national stage to serve their country in military and diplomatic positions. New facilities for land and naval military operations were developed in the state, and men and women throughout the nation came to Florida to train. These mobilization efforts forever changed the state—economically, socially, and politically.

Visit the Florida Historic Capitol Museum to learn more about Florida’s historic Rendezvous with Destiny. Developed in partnership with Camp Blanding Museum and The Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University, this exhibit and programming share the stories of the pre-war period and entrance into World War II from the perspective of those who experienced it—the Floridians defending America on the front lines and back home.

Featured Items

Photo of Jackie Cochran’s 1930s aviatior helmet

Jackie Cochran’s Helmet

This helmet belonged to Pensacola native and aviator Jacqueline Cochran. It was used during the 1930s and 40s while she was recruiting women for British and American flight duty.

Courtesy of National WWII WASP Museum

Photo of a set of playing cards that features various airplane models

Spotter Playing Cards

Many aircraft warning observers, who spotted and reported on air activity, used a deck of cards that featured various airplane models.

Courtesy of George Cressman

Photo of aged yearbook page full of young, female army recruits

WAC-WAAC Yearbook

Women’s Army Corps recruits at Tyndall Air Force Base created this unofficial yearbook that traced a group of women service members even beyond their time in the military.

Courtesy of Tyndall Air Force Base

Photo of steel army helmet painted green with an orange strap, slightly dented and scratched but in otherwise good condition

M1 Helmet and MacDill Field Florida publication

The US Army designed the manganese steel M1 helmet and started production in April 1941. Over 22 million of these helmets were produced during World War II.

Courtesy of Camp Blanding Museum

MacDill Field was built in 1939 near Tampa and was critical in defending the Gulf of Mexico against Nazi U-boat attacks on merchant ships.

Courtesy of Tampa Bay History Center

Exhibit Programs and Events

Tour with Dr. Kurt Piehler—Rendezvous with Destiny: Florida and World War II
Third Fridays, January to March, 2022
12:30 PM

Join Dr. Kurt Piehler, director of the Institute on WWII and the Human Experience at Florida State University, for a personal tour of the newest temporary exhibition, Rendezvous with Destiny: Florida and WWII. This monthly tour is available by reservation only on a first-come-first-serve basis (with a waiting list option) and will last approximately one hour. Participation is capped at 13 guests and three total tours are offered.

Reservations required at

Funding for the following programs was provided through a grant from Florida Humanities with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these programs do not necessarily represent those of Florida Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The American Soldier in World War II presented by Dr. Ed Gitre, Director,
February 3, 2022—Virtual program begins on Zoom at 6:00 PM.

Find out what America’s World War II citizen-soldiers had to say when the US Army asked for their uncensored opinions! Join Dr. Ed Gitre, assistant professor of history at Virginia Tech, as we delve into a newly digitized collection of US War Department surveys conducted from 1941 to 1945. More than 500,000 American soldiers’ attitudes, opinions, and experiences in WWII were recorded. Their feedback influenced future military policies and operations, including the eventual desegregation of the military in 1948 and further social changes into the 1960.

Zoom registration required at

Mobilizing the South: The 31st Infantry Division, Race, and the Pacific War by Dr. Christopher Rein
February 24, 2022—Reception at 5:30 p.m., talk begins at 6:00 p.m.

Join Dr. Christopher Rein, of Air University Press at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, author of the forthcoming book Mobilizing the South: The 31st Infantry Division, Race, and the Pacific War.

The 31st Infantry “Dixie” Division included pre-war members of the Florida National Guard, who helped to build one of America’s largest training centers in WWII—Camp Blanding in Starke, Florida. Deployed Dixie Division members from the segregated South notoriously displayed hostility towards African-American units serving in the Southwest Pacific Theater. Dr. Rein will explore the complicated legacy of Florida’s role in World War II as victories over race-based imperialism abroad failed to stop racial prejudice at home.

Reception begins at 5:30 PM and the program follows at 6:00 PM. Seating is limited, so RSVP at

Virtual Film Screening and Discussion: Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II
March 15, 2022
6:00 p.m. (via Zoom)

In recognition of Women’s History Month, join the Florida Historic Capitol Museum and Florida Humanities for a virtual screening of the documentary Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II.

Hear the wartime memories of African American women who were recruited to serve in US war production and government positions in the 1940s as 20 million women stepped forward to build the "arsenal of democracy.” Known as “Black Rosies,” their first-hand accounts detail battles against racism at home, Nazism abroad, and sexism everywhere. A conversation with film director Professor Gregory Cooke, moderated by Dr. Ashley Robertson Preston from Howard University, will follow the screening.

Register for this free Zoom program at

Exhibit Partners