Answer: The Academy of Music
The Philadelphia United Service Organization (USO) was established in 1941 through a partnership of six agencies: Jewish Welfare Board (JWB), YMCA, YWCA, Salvation Army, Travelers Aid, and the National Catholic Commission Services. The USO helped establish hospitality centers and entertainment clubs throughout the city where servicemen and servicewomen could come to arrange for lodging and other services or enjoy free food and entertainment.
One prominent club in Philadelphia was the Stage Door Canteen, which was located in the basement of the Academy of Music. It opened in June 1943, and it reportedly served 2,500,000 members of the military before it closed in October of 1945. During that time, local servicemen were treated to a variety of entertainment, including dancing, circus acts, live sports, theatrical performances, and meeting celebrities.
A typical mixer at the Philadelphia Stage Door canteen, photograph c. 1943. From the HSP collection of World War II papers (Collection 1479)
After the war, the Stage Door Canteen became the Hospital Entertainment Canteen. This organization was made up of retired performers who worked to bring live entertainment to locally hospitalized soldiers and veterans.
HSP’s collection of World War II papers (#1479) is comprised of an extensive set of original documents pertaining to the local war effort. The collection dates from 1938 to 1948, and it consists of press releases, administrative records, correspondence, financial records, photographs, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, posters, and ephemera.