(Or, What Should I Do with My 3rd Armored Records?)
Most military history has been written from the perspective of the commanders. A soldier’s-eye view of military life can only be written by historians, family members, and other interested parties if the experiences of young citizen-soldiers are preserved. The sources needed to construct these histories should be kept as a permanent, accessible record. For the 3rd Armored Division, such records include:
- personal correspondence, documents, maps, films, snapshots, and scrapbooks kept by division personnel
- official Army operations and personnel records
- postwar recollections of veterans, newsletters, and Association records
- published histories of the division, related units, and leaders
- artifacts such as flags, plaques, and helmets
Many personal records and artifacts have been kept by veterans of the division or given to family members. While it is important to leave an account of military service for one’s descendants, such a record is most likely to be preserved for future generations if the originals or copies are stored in a professional facility. Extensive records and objects should be sent to an institution that specializes in their care. In deciding where your records or artifacts should be stored, consider the following factors:
- permanent retention in an environment which extends their life
- accessibility to researchers
- availability of related research materials
- level of descriptive control maintained by the repository
Where Should Documents Be Stored?
The ideal location to keep correspondence, reports, maps, diaries, oral history tapes, videocassettes, scrapbooks, publications, photographs, and other documents is an archives. Archives provide two benefits: permanent storage in a safe, protected environment and easy access for family members and researchers.
Where Should Artifacts be Stored?
Artifacts include uniforms, helmets, weapons, flags, medals, patches, plaques, memorabilia, and other non-documentary evidence. Most archives do not have the ability to properly store and display artifacts. Artifacts should be sent to a museum or memorial area which specializes in their conservation and exhibition.
Selecting a Depository
Different institutions collect different types of material, and these differences should be kept in mind when selecting a depository. Below you will find summaries of the collections policies for institutions holding records relating to the 3rd Armored Division. This will help you to decide where to place your records or artifacts. You may wish to consider depositing copies of records at more than one institution; see the list of addresses below.
- The United States Army Military History Institute
- MHI, located in Carlisle, PA accepts donations of papers, letters, scrapbooks, diaries, photographs and other materials representing military service from all eras. A research facility associated with the Army War College, it builds a connection between the Army and the civilian academic community. It promotes the study of generalship, strategy, and military theory, while maintaining a file of questionnaires completed by veterans. These questionnaires are organized by unit, and the institute also holds a small amount of manuscript records relating to the 3rd Armored Division.
- National Archives and Records Administration
- NARA has custody of permanent federal government records. Military operations records are held in Washington, personnel records at the records center in St. Louis, and many World War II records are at the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, KS. NARA does not generally solicit personal records of veterans, only official army records.
- The U.S. Army Center for Military History
- Located in Washington, DC the Center for Military History supports research and publication of military history, manages museums, and collects documents, books, and oral histories. It produces the official military histories of the US Army and is responsible for ensuring the appropriate use of military history in the teaching of strategy, tactics, logistics, and administration. It does not actively solicit personal papers of veterans.
- The Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor
- The Patton Museum is found at the U.S. Army Armor Center and School in Fort Knox, KY collects artifacts and museum items. It specializes in armor and general military equipment of all nations from World War I to the present. It does not generally accept personal papers or manuscripts, except as supporting documentation for the above categories. The Museum holds the collection and reference material from the 3rd Armored Division Museum previously located with the postwar division in Germany.
- The Fort Polk Military Museum
- Fort Polk collects artifacts and objects that illustrate the story of Army units that have been stationed there. Its artifacts, objects and specimens are used for education, training, research, and visitor information. It does not solicit manuscripts, except as supplementary documentation.
Academic and Local Agencies
- The 3rd Armored Division Association Archives
- located at the University of Illinois in Urbana, IL, the 3rd Armored Division Associaiton Archives collects research materials relating to the World War II service of Division members, including official unit records, personal correspondence, maps, orders, photographs, films and tapes, newsletters, scrapbooks, annual meeting programs, recorded recollections, and a 250-volume research library. It does not collect museum objects or artifacts. Under a 1981 agreement with the Association, the collection is managed by the University of Illinois Archives and funded by the Andrew Barr World War II Archive Endowment, which ensures the permanent maintenance and accessibility of the collection.
- Other institutions
- Many state agencies, universities, local history societies, and local libraries have established programs for collecting materials relating to World War II. Check with your local institution.
National Archives and Records Administration
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20408
U.S. Army Center of Military History
103 Third Avenue
Fort McNair, DC 20319-5058
Voice: (202) 685-2714
Fax: (202) 685-4570
LTC Edwin M. Perry, Director
US Army Military History Institute
U. S. Army War College and Carlisle Barracks
Carlisle, PA 17013-5008
Voice: (717) 245-4114
Fax: (717) 245-3771
Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor
Post Office Box 208
Fort Knox, KY 40121-0208
Voice: (502) 624-3812
FAX: (502) 624-2364
David S. Bingham, Historian/Curator
Fort Polk Historical Holding
P.O. Box 3916
Fort Polk, LA 71459-0916