Guide to the Research Collections



The collection of 43,700 volumes and numerous manuscripts on military art and science is strong. There is an excellent representation of regimental histories and personal narratives. A wide-ranging accumulation of official publications and a number of unofficial publications provides an adequate representation of current materials from most countries for the general reader. For research, however, the principal value of the collection is historical.

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The General Research and Humanities Division collects comprehensively in this field. The Economic and Public Affairs Division assumes secondary collecting responsibility in the fields of jurisprudence, military law, court martial, military administration and registers, and United States federal and state government reports. The estimated growth of the collections is indicated by the following:

192112,600 volumes

Perhaps the most significant gift in this field was the transfer by the Military Service Institution of its library of more than 8,000 pieces in 1912, with a later deposit in 1913 of 500 books and pamphlets including government documents, Civil War records, and many papers formerly owned by General John M. Schofield. The Parsons collection in the Science and Technology Research Center contains a number of items of military interest, particularly in connection with engineering.

Periodical holdings are comprehensive. The library has almost complete holdings on microfilm of Stars and Stripes and complete holdings of Yank in all editions;1 a complete file of the World War I edition of Stars and Stripes is in the Rare Book Division. Among publications concerning subjects as diverse as arms and armor, military collectors, and military engineering are Allgemeine Schweizerische Militaerzeitschrift (1865-), Army and Navy Journal (1863-), and Journal of the Royal Artillery (1858-); representative of earlier items is the Military and Naval Magazine of the United States (1833-36). There are numerous handbooks and manuals, with good American and British collections. Military laws, regulations, and decisions of courts martial are well represented, as are routine reports and other publications of war ministries, state militia departments, and similar administrative divisions. Associated with these materials are the rich collection of session laws in the Economic and Public Affairs Division, administrative reports from most countries of the world, and publications of international organizations such as the League of Nations and the United Nations.

Technical subjects of consequence include strong collections relating to defense, military tactics, firearms, artillery, and ballistics, with special features such as the World War I engineering materials in the Wilgus collection in the Manuscripts and Archives Division. The Science and Technology Research Center does not cover military science as such, but contains much material on aspects of the subject such as chemical warfare, nuclear warfare, and the military uses of science.

Materials in the historical classifications for all nations include special divisions for important wars in which are located not only historical works but also those dealing with particular phases of military art and science applicable to the war in question. Materials on military hospitals are composed principally of historical works, the field of medicine not being a collecting area for the library. The collections on war and peace consist of materials of varying importance on philosophical and ethical problems, and are noted in detail in chapter 18 of this Guide.

Army Lists and Regimental Histories

Published American army lists in the collection date from 1809 to the present, including the rare 1863 issue, suppressed because of serious errors in the text. English army lists are available from 1754, and there are substantial files from Austria, France, Prussia, Saxony, Switzerland, and other countries.

Regimental histories (both official and unofficial), personal accounts, and related materials concerned with military units form a significant and growing collection. Those for the United States number well over 2,000, with strong holdings for the Civil War and World Wars I and II. Unit histories for the United States Air Force are also held in strength.2

There are fine collections of monographs and periodicals relating to regiments from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.3 A 1954 estimate indicated that more than 800 British regimental histories were held by the library. Some 150 regimental histories in the Slavonic Division are, for the most part, nineteenth-century Russian publications, many of them purchased from the library of the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich in 1931.

Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps, and Other Materials

Military classics, such as the writings of Valturio and Vegetius, are present in editions dating back to the fifteenth century. A notable vellum copy of Valturio's De Re Militari (1472) in the Spencer Collection is considered to be the second illustrated book printed in Italy; also in the Spencer Collection are Dürer's treatise on fortifications, Etliche underrich, zu befestigung der

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Stett, Schloss und Flecken (1527), Jean Perrissin's Der erste Tail (1570), and Leonhardt Fronsperger's Kriegsbuch (1578).

Jacopo Mariano Taccola's "Da machinis" (ca. 1449) is one of the vellum manuscripts in the Spencer Collection. The Manuscripts and Archives Division's holdings are of considerable interest. Many diaries, orderly books, plans of maneuvers, correspondence, journals, contracts, regimental returns, muster and pay rolls, and the like relate to the American Revolution; included is material on Colonial, British, and German troops. Other items cover later periods of United States history; of interest are letter books, orderly books, and conscription records of the Confederate States during the Civil War. Papers of army officers include those of Robert Rogers, William Alexander (Lord Stirling), Henry Dearborn, Horatio Gates, Mordecai Gist, John Lamb, Daniel Morgan, and Baron Von Riedesel.

Within the extensive papers of Philip Schuyler and the Gansevoort family of Albany there are separate series of military correspondence and papers. Those of General Schuyler and General Peter Gansevoort relate to the command of important forces during the Revolution. Gansevoort's materials continue to show militia duties and campaigns until the War of 1812, while those of a grandson, Henry Sanford Gansevoort (1834-71), reflect his artillery and cavalry commands during the Civil War. In addition are the Civil War papers of Ezra Ayers Carman, Francis Vinton Greene, Robert E. Lee, and John Wolcott Phelps. Further eighteenth-and nineteenth-century manuscripts are in the Bancroft, Emmet, Ford, and Myers collections. Later periods covered include a group of World War I letters from military personnel.4

Drawings in the Spencer Collection and the Prints Division include representations of batteries and redoubts of the American Revolution by Archibald Robertson, and 138 original drawings made by the staff artists of Leslie's Weekly during the Civil War. Two fortification collections purchased in 1946 include 100 original watercolor plans (1690-1710) for forts and 140 manuscript plans (1710-65) of European battlefields and fortifications. Military materials in the Prints Division may be located through the name of the artist or printmaker; military portraits are found in sources as diverse as Goya's Los desastres de la guerra (1863) and Otto Dix's Der Krieg (1914).

The Butterfield collection in the Map Division is made up of maps used by General Daniel Butterfield during the Civil War. The group of seventy-one maps includes hand-drawn specimens and a number seized from the Confederate armies. In addition, the division has maps covering the American Revolutionary War in New York State, the Civil War, and both World Wars. There are English general staff maps for World War I in the Parsons collection of the Science and Technology Research Center.

The Rare Book Division holds thirty-nine decorations of honor which have been in the collections since 1912: the division is not adding to this collection. Among the decorations are the French Legion of Honor, the Russian Order of St. Vladimir, the Prussian Iron Cross, and 2 Napoleonic medals.