Source: Stetson Conn, Historical Work in the United States Army 1862-1954 (U.S. Army Center of Military History, Washington, D.C., 1980).

Stetson Conn (formerly of Amherst College) served as a Chief Historian, General Editor of the United States Army in World War II official history. He was co-author of The Western Hemisphere: Guarding the United States and its Outposts.  For the Center of Military History, Conn co-authored The  War of the American Revolution: Narrative, Chronology, and Bibliography.

Go to Part One: 1862 to 1940 / Part Two: 1941 to 1947 / Part Three: 1947 to 1954


The author has obtained most of the documentary information he needed to write this work from files and papers in Military History's own reference collection, files of the Army's historical offices, in or on loan from the National Archives. In the first category the most important source on happenings before World War II has been the so-called Thomas (T) file, actually the surviving official files of the World War I Historical Branch and Historical Section for the years 1918-1948. The excellent card index to this file suggests the destruction some years ago of other material that would have been useful. Second only to the Thomas file for the earlier period, and very useful for the whole work, have been the Historical Records Collection (HRC) files in Military History's Reference Branch. The Center of Military History (CMH) has also kept a sizeable collection of Chief Historian's desk and convenience files and other papers relating to the post-1945 period, and other similar though much smaller collections kept by Chief Historian Livy Wright, and Colonels Kemper, Taylor, and Clark, and working papers of historian Bell I. Wiley, all of which have been used extensively. Two volumes of an incomplete desk diary by Colonel Clark and on loan to the historical office were also of substantial value. Other CMH documentary sources used have included Reference's three "Black Books" and a "Policy Book," each containing copies of documents of historical value; Planning Branch papers; a front-office diary kept by the Executive in 1949-1951; and Organizational History Branch (OHB) files.

The principal documentary sources for information on the World War II effort are the official files of the Historical Branch (HB) of 1943-1945, and of its successors the Historical Division Special Staff and the Office of the Chief of Military History (HD or HDSS, OCMH) and CMH, files under the custodianship of the National Archives although many of them resting in Reference at the time of the author's research; others were loaned by the Archives for us in Reference. In the National Archives the author made use of other files as needed of the Army's War College (WCD) to March 1918, and of its War Plans Division (WPD), 1918-1921; of the more modern Chief of Staff's (WDCSA), Secretary of War's (SW), and Assistant Secretary of War's (ASW) offices; of the Operations Division (OPD); and of the 1918-1919 Historical Section, General Headquarters, American Expeditionary Forces (HS, GHQ, AEF) in France.

In Reference's library and files, supplemented in a few instances by the resources of the Army Library and National Archives Library, the author had access to a variety of other useful official and unofficial documents: items in the Secretary of War's Annual Reports; War Department General Orders, Bulletins, Memorandums, and Circulars; General Orders of the General Headquarters, American Expeditionary Forces; Army Regulations and Special Regulations; organization charts; Adjutant General letters; Historical Branch, Historical Division, and Office of the Chief of Military History Administrative Memorandums; and Army biographical data sheets for general officers, and for some other military and civilian personnel.

Narrative accounts of the Army's historical work since the Civil War include the following unpublished items in Reference's manuscript collection of particular value to the author, listed alphabetically:

Clark, Col. Allen F., Jr. "Notes by Colonel Clark" (August 1948), usually referred to as the Clark Report.

Franklin, WO Charles W. "Study on Records of the Union and Confederate Armies," completed in 1931, in Thomas file 5255, the major account and source of information on the Army's big Civil War project.

Hartman, Col Allison R., "My Service with the Historical Division Since 1946," written in 1950.

MacDonald, Charles B., "The Origin and Early Development of the Official History, the U.S. Army in World War II."

Morton, Louis. "The Establishment of the Historical Division, WDSS: The Struggle for Survival."

Paone, Rocco M., "The World War I Historical Section, 1941-1952."

Smith, Robert R., "The Historical Branch G-2: Getting the Program Underway."

Spaulding, Lt. Col. Oliver L., Jr. "Research Work in the Historical Branch of the General Staff," in T 3336H, a paper given at the December 1919 AHA annual meeting. A similar summary was published in the Infantry Journal 16, no. 6 (December 1919): 450-54.

Thompson, Royce L., "Establishment of the War Department Historical Program for World War II," in two volumes, the first narrative and the second documentary.

Wiley, Bell I. "Historical Program of the U.S. Army, 1939 to the Present," with five completed chapters on the period 1939 to 1945 mimeographed and distributed, and a sixth unfinished chapter. [An excerpt is on this website.]

Useful items in print pertaining to the Army's historical work included the following, arranged alphabetically:

Coates, Col. John B., Jr. "The U.S. Army Medical Department in World War II: The History of the History." Journal of the American Medical Association 165, no. 3 (September 21, 1957): 241-53.

Deutrich, Mabel E., Struggle for Supremacy: The Career of General Fred G. Ainsworth. Washington: Public Affairs Press, 1962.

Greenfield, Kent Roberts, The Historian and the Army. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1954.  [An excerpt is on this website.]

Higham, Robin, ed. Official Histories. Manhattan: Kansas State University Library, 1970. Contains articles by Dr. Greenfield and the author on the Army's World War II series, and five articles on the histories of Army medical activities in the Civil War, World War I, and World War II.

Irvine, Dallas D. "The Genesis of the Official Records." Mississippi Valley Historical Review 24, no. 2 (September 1937): 221-29.

Mereness, Newton D. "American Historical Activities during the World War." In American Historical Association Annual Report, 1919, I. Washington: GPO, 1923. pp 137-293.

Military Affairs (and its predecessor, Journal of the American Military History Foundation), published since the mid-1930's has contained numerous short articles and news reports on the Army's historical work.

O'Neill, James, and Krauskopf, Robert W., eds. World War II: An Account of Its Documents. Washington: Howard University Press, 1976. Contains an article on the Army's World War II history by the author.

Wolfe, Robert, ed. Captured German and Italian Records. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1974. Contains an article by Detmar H. Finke on the use of captured German records in official history.

Wood, Casey A., and Garrison, F.H. "The Medical History of the War, 1, Retrospective" and "Medical History of the War, 2, Prospective." Military Surgeon 44, no., 3 (March 1919) and no. 5 (May 1919), describing the Civil War and World War I medical historical work.