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

Bookmarks GUADALCANAL /SUPREME COMMAND WOMEN’S ARMY CORPS MPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS/ ORGANIZATION OF GROUND COMBAT TROOPS / PROCUREMENT AND TRAINING OF GROUND COMBAT TROOPS Standards and objectives Seminar system and panel review Charles D. MacDonald Constance M. Green Air Force official history Army Service Forces Organization and Role of Army Service Forces GLOBAL LOGISTICS AND STRATEGY THE ARMY AND ECONOMIC MOBILIZATION Gaps in the series SOLDIERS BECOME GOVERNORS Photographs and maps Pictorial Record series Costs and sales AEF IN WORLD WAR I, plan and publication Unit history INFANTRY BOOK Enemy records / History of Military Mobilization in the United States Army 1775-1945 History of Prisoner of War Utilization by the United States Army 1775-1945, History of  Personnel Demobilization in the United States Army, The Personnel Replacement System in the United States Army  / Military Relations Between the United States and Canada, 1939-1945 War in Korea and Truman’s directive Combat Actions in Korea Combat Support in Korea United States Army in the Korean War/ Author’s notes

Go to Part One: 1862 to 1940 / Part Two: 1941 to 1947 /Bibliography 

From Chapter 5: Launching “The United States Army in World War II”

One consequence of [launching the official history series] was a decision by October 1946 to curtail the American Forces in Action series and to convert some of the manuscripts being prepared for it into volumes for The United States Army in World War II. The three AFA pamphlets appearing after 1946 were works begun earlier that could not be fitted into the official history. Two others in progress in the summer of 1946, dealing with the Okinawa and Guadalcanal operations, became the first combat volumes to be published in the World War II series. At the end of December the Chief Historian hoped that Okinawa could be published not too long after the Navy’s first operational volume, then scheduled to appear within two months. In the event, the Army volume was not ready for distribution until December 1948. Guadalcanal, on which Dr. John Miller, Jr. had begun work in November 1945, became the first volume written entirely within the Historical Division, although Miller benefited from extensive work done overseas. Completed in draft form in two years, its editing and publication took almost as long as its composition.  *1*

Work on many other theater volumes was just beginning in the summer of 1946. An exception was the work of Dr. Forrest C. Pogue on the history of General Eisenhower’s European headquarters, The Supreme Command, which he had begun overseas during the preceding winter. Another project well under way was a history of the Women’s Army Corps, being written by Maj. Mattie E. Treadwell, who had joined the division the preceding autumn. After Capt. Lee joined the February 1946, the division found the scheme of feeding material into other author’s volumes too difficult. In mid-summer 1946 he was assigned to write a separate volume on the employment of Negro troops during the war, a volume that would not appear in print until two decades later….

…[The] historical studies of the Army Ground Forces, prepared by and under the direction of Dr. Greenfield before he became Chief Historian, were considered in early 1946 the works most nearly ready for publication in the official history…. [It] was essential for the division to publish a volume in the series as soon as possible. Combining the GHQ with five other studies made book of suitable length. Two months of intensive work made it ready by 17 September for delivery to the Adjutant General’s Office, the channel through which all Army publications had to be transmitted to the Government Printing Office. In November Dr. Greenfield was hoping to get this volume “out of the trenches before Christmas”, but in face this first book in The United States Army in World War II was not published until the fall of 1947.

NOTE:  “This first book” is The United States Army in World War II: The Army Ground Forces: The Organization of Ground Combat Troops. Its authors are Kent Roberts Greenfield, Dr. Robert R. Palmer (Professor of History at Princeton University), and Bell I. Wiley (Professor of History at LSU). The “second book”, described below is The United States Army in World War II: The Army Ground Forces: The Procurement and Training of Ground Combat Troops. Its authors are Palmer, Wiley, and Maj. William R. Keast (who left the Historical Branch to become an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Chicago).]

The second AGF volume proved even more a testing ground for the series than the first. As the time scheduled for its delivery to the printer approached, Dr. Winnacker [Rudolph A. Winnacker, formerly of the Office of Strategic Services and assigned as an historian, in October 1944, to the Secretary of War’s office.] took the position that the studies needed a broader perspective and other improvements before publication. Dr. Greenfield took exception to some of his criticisms, but accepted others, and personally devoted two or three months to revising the studies and others added to flesh out the volume. It finally went into the publication channel in April 1947, but another fourteen months passed before it appeared in .  *2*

That complex historical volumes would take far longer to print through the Government Printing Office than anyone had anticipated was but one of the lessons learned from experience in the preparation of the AGF and other early volumes. Work on these volumes also led to development of more explicit standards and objectives for the series than those set forth in the approved plan. A necessary degree of uniformity in style was obtained by preparation of a style manual for series volumes. Distributed in October 1946, the manual allowed some leeway for variations, but not within the same book. All authors of series volumes, both within and outside the Historical Division, were expected to adhere to accepted standards of historical scholarship and methodology. Their works were to be fully documented, not only to indicate the sources on which they relied but also to provide the reader with a guide to the documents. While bearing in mind that the series had been conceived as a work for training and reference, authors were expected to write their books in clear and common English. Full responsibility for authorship was to be recognized by placing the author’s name on title-page and spine, and by inclusion of a signed author’s preface. That signature meant that nothing had been included in his book, nor any changes made in its language, without his consent. Also, the Army faithfully adhered to a policy of never publishing a censored or “sanitized” version. Recognizing that documentary evidence was frequently inadequate, from the beginning authors were encouraged to interview participants. The Army was thus a pioneer in oral history. Moreover, draft manuscripts were circulated widely to obtain as much helpful criticism as possible from both participants and other historians. Both authors and Army history were protected against changing any statement of fact unless new and convincing documentary evidence was produced.

As for objectives, authors had necessarily to keep in mind that the series was intended primarily for Army use: for the instructor in Army schools, for the “student-officer educating himself for a position of responsibility in another war” as the Chief Historian once put it, and for a broader professional scholarly public and a “general but limited public of thoughtful citizens.” As reference works its volumes were not expected to be popular histories or, to quote Dr. Greenfield, “bedtime reading for anybody.” Content was to be confined to topics of Army-wide interest and to subject matter of sufficient import for it to be useful for the Army to know about for a half-century or more.

A periodic seminar launched by the Chief Historian 1 November 1946 became a major vehicle for developing common standards and objectives. Dr. Greenfield modeled it on a seminar he had developed as chairman of John Hopkins history department. Looking back in 1948, Colonel Clark characterized the seminar system as “invaluable in indoctrinating our authors with the level of scholarship demanded in the division.” For each seminar an author submitted what he considered a finished and properly documented piece of thirty or so pages written for a major division publication. Reproduced and distributed a week in advance, this paper was read critically by about a dozen individuals including the Chief Historian or his representative, one of the division’s senior military critics, a member of the editorial staff, one or more knowledgeable critics from outside the office, and a half dozen or more of the author’s peers, including some working on dissimilar topics. The author was present at the meeting of the members of the seminar, and normally received a barrage of criticism, most of it helpful. The realization by all the writers that they would be subjected to the seminar system provided a most effective spur to better scholarship. Participation of top Army and Navy officers was not only helpful to authors but also it made these officers aware of the trustworthy manner in which the Army’s history was being written. Attendance of the ex-commander of China Theater, Albert S. Wedemeyer, and key members of his staff in January 1947 won for the authors of the China-Burma-India theater volumes both the promise and practice of whole-hearted support. Later in 1947 Chief of Staff Eisenhower twice took the time to participate in seminars on topics related to his European command. While seminars were held less frequently as work on the series progressed, for a decade or more they continued to be a useful device. In later years they were particularly useful for technical service historians who lacked the advantage that historians within the division had of working closely together.  *3*

Later in his study, Conn notes : To provide a wide spectrum of criticism on broader substantive grounds, the division developed a system of panel and outside review. As refined in 1948 and 1949, this system involved a careful reading and written review of each manuscript by members of a panel. Appointed and chaired by the Chief Historian or his deputy, each panel normally included one or more of the author’s own peers drawn from within the division, a division officer as military critic (a task ably performed by Colonel Hartman during his tenure), an editor, an historian from the outside (frequently in the late 1940’s a member of the Advisory Committee), and one or more participant critics. After individual reviews, the panel members met for a frank and thorough discussion of the manuscript. If they decided that the author could make his draft, with appropriate revision, into an acceptable book for publication, they then discussed what he should do to improve it. During the panel process, the division circulated other copies of the manuscript to knowledgeable participants of the events it described to obtain an even wider range of useful criticism. The Chief Historian then assembled all of the comments and recommendations that appeared to have merit into a composite and more or less anonymous critique for the author’s guidance in revising his manuscript. After the revised manuscript was approved by the Chief Historian and formally accepted by the Chief of Military History for final literary editing and publication, it was exempt from further major changes in content….(In sum, the authors of the World War II histories had) a more searching review and criticism of their works than most scholarly works receive before publication.]

Summary (Pages 138-152)

While the division’s position within the Pentagon protected it from G-2 staff cuts, the War Department was cutting back as well. From the spring of 1946 onward, the division had to fight off attempts to cut its staff as part of an overall War Department peacetime reduction. By the summer of 1946 the division’s goal was a strength of twenty officer and eighty-three Civil Service positions (including clerical support), exclusive of those required by the World War I section. This strength was difficult to maintain.

In January 1947, Col. Clark and the division’s chief planning officer worked up an estimate to complete the World War II series within five years. The total they came up with was $3,974,000 (based less on real calculations than their belief that four million was the maximum the division could hope for). They got it. Four million dollars was made available to support the World War II project. A War Department Historical Fund was established with the Army Central Welfare Fund as its formal custodian.

Dr. Greenfield had been impressed by a recently published war narrative [Company Commander, Infantry Journal Press, 1947] by Charles D. MacDonald. He was persuaded to join the division to undertake a volume on small unit combat actions. MacDonald, as it turned out, had found his calling and went on to write The Siegfried Line Campaign, The Last Offensive, and coauthored Three Battles: Arnaville, Altuzzo and Schmidt in the official history series.

Greenfield also bolstered a weak area in hiring an economic historian, Dr. Constance M. Green to take charge of the Ordnance Department’s historical work.

Language specialists were hired to work with the large amount of German and Japanese documents that reached Washington. A foreign studies section would emerge out of this activity.

The division’s total strength increased from 130 in July 1947 to 210 in April 1949.

Beginning in 1942, the Army Air Forces (Department of the Air Force from 1947) developed a large historical organization. Its historical work grew increasingly independent of the Army, as did its other functions, throughout the war. The Air Forces arranged to have its volumes edited and published by the University of Chicago Press. The Historical Division formally reviewed the first two Air Force volumes, published in 1948 and 1949, and offered criticism as friendly suggestions.

The Army Service Forces (ASF) presented a major difficulty for the division, a problem, as Conn writes, that was never adequately solved. Only the technical services (Chemical, Engineers, Medical, Ordnance, Quartermaster, Signal, and Transportation) had adequate historical staffs. Professor John D. Millet (of Columbia University) had been an ASF historian during the war and he agreed to write a one-volume administrative history. He completed the manuscript in 1949. Dr. Richard M. Leighton (also an ASF historian during the war) joined the division in January 1948 to work on the story of Army supply. This work developed into the two-volume, Global Logistics and Strategy covering the years 1940-1945. Dr. Robert W. Coakley, an Army historian in Europe during the war, was coauthor. Another contribution was made by a former economics professor at Northwestern University, Dr. R. Elberton Smith. In 1950, he was contracted to write a history of Army procurement, The Army and Economic Mobilization    

Large areas of ASF responsibility largely went uncovered. These were the recruitment and training of civilians military personnel, and the activities of the Army’s administrative services (Adjutant General, Chaplains, Finance, Judge Advocate General, Provost Marshall General, Special Services).

There were other gaps in the final series as well. The division did not have a statistical expert until the Fund allowed the hiring of a senior statistician, George M. Powell, as a consultant and statistical editor in the summer of 1947. Two statistical volumes were planned but abandoned at the outbreak of war in Korea. As Conn remarks, this left not only “a serious gap in the World War II series but also in the whole realm of statistics compiled and published on the war.”

An Order of Battle for World War II (comparable to the one prepared for World War I) could not be published due to inadequate records.

Dr. Winnacker never completed his work on the Secretary of War’s office.

A  work on military intelligence was completed but went unpublished. Other gaps in the series were the area of top-level civilian control, and a volume on General Staff administration. The series also omitted the Army’s wartime planning for postwar activities and post-August 1945 events and operations, such as demobilization and military government in Japan and Germany. The only published volume on the Army’s Civil Affairs activity would be Soldiers Become Governors by Dr. Albert K. Weinberg and Harry Coles.

For all volumes in the published series, graphic material was chosen with great care. The selection and  placement of photographs was managed by three officers who, in the summer of 1949, began work on three pictorial volumes for the series. One volume each was devoted to operations in Northwest Europe, the Med, and the Pacific. [Published under the series title of The United States Army in World War II: The Pictorial Record, the three volumes are The War Against Japan, The War Against Germany and Italy: Mediterranean and Adjacent Areas, and The War Against Germany: Europe and Adjacent Areas.]  

Maps were a special problem, not in quality but in keeping pace with manuscripts. As Conn writes, “The historical office had been peculiarly fortunate in 1944 in acquiring the services of Mr. Wsevolod Aglaimoff, a professional soldier of the Czar who had escaped from Russia after the Revolution. Before and after his employment by the American embassy in Paris he absorbed a massive knowledge of European military terrain. His skill in mapping was matched by a meticulous attention to checking details. This checking extended to an independent review of the sources of an author’s work whenever he deemed it necessary. The result was not only maps of the highest quality but both maps and texts of the highest attainable degree of factual accuracy.” This, of course, took time, and mapping became a serious bottleneck.

Within the Historical Division, there were significant personnel changes in 1948 and 1949. Gen. Malony retired and was succeeded by Gen. Orlando Ward as Chief of Military History. Col. Clark returned to the Corps of Engineers and was succeeded as Executive by Lt. Col. Edward M. Harris. Col. Kemper left to become Headmaster of the Phillips Andover Academy. His place was taken by Col. Allison R. Hartman who took over administrative work on the World War II project. Dr. Greenfield suffered a heart attack and, during his recovery, Dr. Conn served as Chief Historian.

A shift was also made in bringing in editors from the publishing world for line-editing (not substantial historical criticism). This freed division historians for other duties.

Stetson Conn’s narrative continues below.

The principal safeguard against including in the volume information whose revelation “would in fact endanger the security of the Nation” was the knowledge and good judgment of the authors themselves. For this reason the clearance of manuscripts for open publication by Army Intelligence and (from 1949) by the Office of the Secretary of Defense was largely a formality, although sometimes a time-consuming one. The Army also sent completed manuscripts to sister services and to Britain’s war history office for comment on sections bearing upon activities of concern to them and customarily it previewed Marine and British histories in the same manner.

The actual printing of Army historical publications by the Government Printing Office had to be handled through the Adjutant General’s Office [which often meant delays]….[Getting] an author’s completed manuscript into print continued to take considerably longer than division planners calculated it should. In May 1948 they plotted an ideal span of about 200 days between completion of a draft and its publication; in practice in the ensuing years at the best the process (review, revision, editing, printing) took about two years.  *4*

….From the beginning, the World War II volumes cost the Army more, and fewer of them were sold to the public, than Historical Division planners had anticipated. Costs of printing, rising after the war, soon were more than double the estimate of $8,000 a volume in the series plan. The books purchased for official distribution cost the Army substantially more per copy than their selling price to the general public, the latter varying between $3.25 and $6.00 for the first volumes printed. Actually, there is no clear evidence that their selling price significantly restricted sales, and their total distribution exceeded that of most comparable scholarly works. Of the early series volumes printed, the Historical Division purchased 3,000 copies for the Army’s own use and official distribution. The Government Printing Office ran off about 1,000 for depository library and Congressional distribution and as many more as it thought it could sell to the public. Such sales actually totaled between 1,000 and 5,000 copies per volume, with Okinawa heading the list. By way of comparison, while commercial publisher’s [Little, Brown] public sales of the Navy operational volumes by Samuel Eliot Morison were considerably higher, their total distribution about matched that of the most popular volumes in the Army’s official history.  *5*

….The Advisory Committee continued to be one of the strongest links with the historical profession; and its 1948 meeting became a vehicle for closer coordination of the United States Army’s historical work on World War II with that of its British and Commonwealth allies. In February official military history representatives from Great Britain, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand assembled in Washington for a three-day meeting with the Historical Advisory Committee. Members of the United States Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps historical organizations, as well as the senior staff of the Historical Division, were present to discuss matters of common concern. One result was the establishment of particularly close ties between the Historical Division and its counterparts in Canada and Great Britain, including an arrangement with the latter for checking the factual accuracy of works prior to their publication.  *6*

While the merits, or even the existence, of the Army’s World War II series and of its other historical publications would never become an item of general public knowledge, by late summer of 1949 students of military history and scholars generally had come to accept these publications, as well as those by the Army’s sister services as trustworthy and valuable works of scholarship. By this time the Historical Division was nearing its maximum strength, with over 220 individuals on its roll, most of them at work on World War II projects. While only four of the official history volumes had been published, two more were being printed and work was underway on more than seventy other Army and Air Force volumes, or about three-fourths of the total of 104 projected in a fresh survey of progress on the series compiled in August 1949. Greater progress had been made on operational than on administrative volumes, mainly because of the operational orientation of the Army’s new central historical office since its establishment in 1943 and the strong early manning of the principal theater sections. Leaders of the division in mid-1949 still hoped to complete the bulk of its work on the official history by mid-1952, but they no longer expected to complete drafts of all the volumes by that time. *7*

In commenting on the series early in 1948, Dr. Greenfield observed that most of the volumes would present “a young man’s history of the war,” since most of the authors were in their thirties or even younger….Its youthful authors, he thought, had brought to it not only competence and high spirit but also “an irreplaceable personal interest and direct knowledge of the war and its records which only historians who were themselves in the war fully possess.” In a detailed analysis in November 1948 he described his colleagues as a “Department of History” within the Army, and testified that in their work they had met with no infringements upon the principles and rights of historical research. What distinguished them from historians generally was that their working primarily in response to a pressing need, the Army’s own need for “an organized, comprehensive, and objective record” to which it could refer. But there was also the hope that from this effort would come “the thought and study” that would “ultimately produce not only a better understanding of the problem of war among professional and lay students, but also the impetus and basic sources for future interpretive histories of World War II.”  *8*

From Chapter 6: A Widening Range of Historical Activity

A general broadening of the responsibilities and activities of the Army’s central historical office accompanied the launching and substantial growth of the World War II project between 1946 and the advent of a new major conflict in the Far East in June 1950. By March 1948, as a contemporary study noted, the Historical Division had become involved in “a wide range of peripheral activities including the stimulation of interest in the study of military history, conducting a training program for historical personnel for the Organized Reserves, organization of military museums and collections, coordination of replies to historical inquiries by agencies of the Department of the Army, and the care, preservation, and disposition” of historical properties. Staff and policy making responsibilities for historical properties had been acquired by the Historical Division in the fall of 1946. Although the physical consolidation of what had been the Army War College Historical Section with the Division in May 1947 did not in itself introduce new functions, it did require readjustments. Ancillary activities of the older organization were dispersed among other parts of the division, leaving the World War I Group, as it was designated, free to concentrate on completing its documentary and order of battle volumes with a view to an early close-out of this work. New historical activities were generated in 1947 and 1948 by the growing availability of enemy records. The Army Staff and schools pressed for information from these records and for other special or “applied” studies and historical information of all sorts in greater quantity.

NOTE:  In March 1950, the Historical Division was re designated the Office of the Chief of Military History (OCMH).]


By early 1946 the War College Historical Section had ready for printing or final editing about one-quarter of the AEF operational documents that it planned to publish, enough translations of French and German documents to fill three or four volumes, and maps to fill at least two more. The section planned to provide an elaborate index for all the volumes. Some time before, when it had suspended the screening of Services of Supply records, only 7 percent of preliminary processing of SOS documents had been completed. The section was still working on a third order of battle volume on units that never left the United States during the war, and hope to complete it by the end of 1946. It must have been clear to the section’s chief, Colonel Benson, that completing all these projects as scheduled was unlikely….

In late 1946 General Malony [then Chief of Military History, Historical Division] approved a modified plan for publishing the World War I documents and abandoning further work on SOS records. A year later he and Colonel Benson agreed to reduce the number of operational documents to be published by about two-thirds and to eliminate foreign documents and the atlas volumes. At Benson’s urging the division also tried, although unsuccessfully, to get the Army Staff to approve a re designation of the first world war to “World War I.” [The series would be called, The United States Army in the World War, 1917-1919]. In August 1947 the division decided, as a measure of economy to employ a lithoprint rather than the standard linotype method of printing. By the following February, fifteen of the seventeen projected documentary volumes and three index volumes were ready for the printer. The documentary volumes were dispatched to the Government Printing Office in the spring of 1948. They were published in a 1,000-copy edition in 1949-1950 at a cost to the Army of about $108,000. The elaborate index planned for them was never prepared, an omission that substantially restricted their effective use. Coincidentally, the third World War I order of battle volume was published in two parts in 1948 and 1949.  *9*

NOTE:  All the official World War I publications, and then some, are available on CD-ROM, United States Army in World War I from the Centre of Military History. The search function of a CD-ROM helps in the absence of an index, though the books themselves are better for reading.]

The World War I shop was disbanded a fortnight after the last of the documentary volumes went to the printer. Mr. Thomas and his principal helper were assigned to the Applied Studies organization where they continued to help in the publication and distribution of the World War I volumes. At General Ward’s suggestion Thomas began writing a narrative history of the U.S. Army’s role in World War I. His manuscript was completed in 1951. Its formal review indicated a need for substantial revision, a task that the author was unable to undertake before his retirement. Two days before the World War I Branch disbanded, it turned over to the National Archives 270 cubic feet of index cards summarizing American operational records, copies and translations of British, French, and German documents pertaining to American operations, and another 100 cubic feet of cartographic records, the accumulation of nearly three decades of Army historical enterprise.  *10*

As reorganized in 1948 the Historical Division had three operating groups (later called branches and still later divisions following the office’s re designation in March 1950), designated through 1950 as Service, World War II (much the largest), and Applied Studies. The principle functions in the service area were supervising historical work outside the division [this was loosely practiced], planning and conducting training, handling general reference work, the organizational history and honours activity inherited from the World War I Branch, and matters relating to Army museums and historical properties.

….The Service Group’s planning and training activities cantered around mobilization and other contingency planning; revising Army Regulations 345-105, the prescription for the “After Action” report of World War II; revising tables of organization and equipment for historical teams in the field; preparing a field manual for historians serving in active operational areas; and commissioning officers and establishing historical units in the Army Reserve. Historians working on World War II had found a large proportion of the narrative after-action reports submitted by unit commanders unsatisfactory in many respects. As early as 1943, the G-2 Historical Branch had begun work  on a revised regulation in an effort to improve them The six years that it took to complete the new AR 345-105 paid off, for the “Command Report of the Korean War period was considerably more informative and reliable than its World War II counterpart….

Another service function had originated after World War I, when the Army’s central historical office was given the mission of “determining the military history of all organizational units [i.e., units] of the Army of the United States with a view to establishing historical continuity and awarding battle honors,” as General Spaulding defined it in 1942. During World War II the War College Historical Section normally could spare only two officers or warrant officers to handle this work. Their efforts through 1946 were confined almost entirely to handling the thousands of inquiries received each year on unit history matters, and in effect the section lost the function of determining battle credits for World War II actions. By early 1947 the World War I office appears to have been reconciled to the transfer of its unit history responsibility to another part of the World War II organization. It also transferred its very large file of information accumulated during the three preceding decades on the history of individual Army units.  *11* 

After a brief attachment to the Historical Division’s Order of Battle Section, unit history acquired separate status in an organization which by 1948 had a dozen people at work under the aggressive leadership of Mr. Frederick P. Todd. During World War II, Todd had been a senior historical officer in the Pacific. By summer 1948 his section had become fully responsible for all matters pertaining to the history of Army units, and generated new regulations on unit lineage and battle honors and on preparing and using unit histories, regulations that reflected the broadened responsibility that the Historical Division was now able to exercise in these areas. If only because if their number, the one task the section could not undertake was the review and criticism of histories prepared by or for the units themselves. During its first full year, the new organization was able to determine and publish official lineages and honors statements for 500 Army units, representing the beginning of an endeavor that was to become its principal function in the decades to come.  *12*

The main purpose of all unit history work was the stimulation of esprit de corps, in order to make soldiers and their commanders aware of the past accomplishments of their unit, and to instill in them enthusiasm and pride. Written lineage and honors statements and unit histories also furnished the basis for a wide range of symbolism, including the heraldic work performed by the Quartermaster Department, the award of unit colors and standards, the design of distinctive insignia, the designation and celebration of unit days, and the establishment of local museums for the display of mementos of the past. As it had before World War II, the unit history organization also asserted itself in advising the General Staff on matters relating to organizational history, including the designation of newly activated units in a manner that would most effectively maintain the Army’s heritage of valor. It cooperated with other Army agencies in their use of radio and of still and motion pictures in “efforts to make the men of the Army aware of its history and the traditions they are expected to emulate.” It prepared a lengthy section on Army history and symbolism eventually included in The Soldier’s Guide in June 1952, and Todd contributed guidance for unit leaders through his article “Harness Your History,” published in Officer’s Call in 1954. Finally, it began preparing for handy reference use publications containing the official lineages and battle honors statements of all active Army units. The first fruit of this project, known familiarly as the Infantry Book, with its lineages and supplemented by heraldic illustrations and a narrative historical introduction, appeared in 1953.  


The greatest postwar expansion of effort in the Army’s Historical Division occurred in its Applied Studies Group, formally established on 2 August 1948. Its creation showed that General Malony and his colleagues recognized that Army staff agencies and schools had immediate needs for more historical information and assistance than the World War II series could give them for many years….

….The Applied Studies Group initially comprised two branches, a Research and Writing Branch and a Review and Translations Branch…The Research and Writing Branch contained two sections, the first charged with preparing special studies involving American military experiences and the second a Foreign Studies Section that would work extensively in the captured German documents….

The work of the Army’s historians on the enemy side of the war began with collection of German materials by the Historical Section, ETOUSA, and the work of the Shuster Mission. [Japanese records were added later to the Pentagon collection as well.] [But] the records available had too many gaps to be the only source of the enemies’ side in the World War II volumes. Authors writing on combat operations, and particularly those dealing with the war against Japan, came to depend also on interrogations and narratives of military and civilian leaders of the defeated nations.  *13*

 [In support of the World War II series] Foreign Studies performed a two-fold task. Beginning in August 1948, it assigned to each author working on a European or Mediterranean combat volume a bilingual research assistant. In close collaboration with the author the assistant compiled a parallel account that told the enemy side of the story. The author then integrated the information in this account into his finished draft. During the panel review, Foreign Studies made a careful check of text and footnotes of the draft manuscript. It remained the author’s prerogative to decide how much of the enemy story he should use and how he should use it.  *14*

 In reports of April 1949 General [Paul M.] Robinett described his Foreign Studies organization as a “clearing house for [German] studies of current or future use to the staff and schools.”…It established a separate publishing program at G-2 request, initially for editing the best and most needed of the German studies, later for overseeing their printing as Department of the Army pamphlets, and finally as a vehicle for writing new works on the enemy side of the war in eastern Europe. Sixteen pamphlets on German operations were published by OCMH between 1950 and 1954 and a number of others in the late 1950’s.  *15*

 Work in the new Applied Studies organization on more general historical studies was overshadowed for several years but was firmly established before the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950. [“Special Studies” were produced which] did produce some historical works of substantial value for Army staff and school as well as general public use. Histories of the Army’s experience from the American Revolution through World War II with mobilization, demobilization of personnel, replacement of personnel, and the employment of prisoners of war, were printed during the 1950’s as Department of the Army pamphlets. As an aspect of this program General Robinett in 1955-1956 would superintend the preparation of an American military history text for ROTC use which became the most widely circulated of the Army’s historical publications. Two works undertaken by officer-historians were accepted as doctoral dissertations by Harvard and Columbia Universities. One of them, on Military Relations Between the United States and Canada, 1939-1945, was published in the World War II series in 1959.  *16*


OCMH’s historians were as surprised as almost all other Americans by the overwhelming attack of the North Koreans on South Korea in June 1950, and were unprepared to adjust their program to it. For the first six months of the war, a single officer was assigned to cover what was happening, and about all he could do was collect materials. It was not until President Truman issued a directive on 29 January 1951—one considerably stronger than Roosevelt’s of March 1942—that Federal agencies, including the Army, received a firm mandate to record their experiences in the new conflict and in the national emergency that the Cold War had brought. 

During 1951, General Ward and his advisors developed a plan for a five-volume history of the new war. In so doing, they applied four principles: to continue to work with the least possible interferences, to use qualified reserve officers called to active duty on current history work as much as possible, coordinate as closely as possible historical work undertaken in Washington and the Far East (in contrast to World War II and after) and to concentrate on combat and related operations. OCMH established a new Current Branch to work on the Korean War. By October 1951 it had a strength of eight officers and three civilians. Early fruits of the work included two semi-pictorial volumes describing and illustrating operations in Korea in 1950 and in 1951-1953 respectively. Published by the Government Office, they were similar in form to volumes of the American Forces in Action series. Soon after the fighting ended the Combat Forces Press published two works, also products of the current history program, describing small unit combat actions and combat support in Korea. An approved plan of January 1953 contemplated eight volumes of a more definitive nature. In addition to topical histories undertaken in Washington and the Far East Command, after Truman’s letter the Department of the Army levied a requirement on all except its top agencies and OCMH to prepare and submit to the latter periodic historical summaries. This requirement helped to stimulate other projects for more scholarly historical works in the Army technical services which still had autonomous historical offices.

After the Korean Armistice in July 1953 [qualified personnel and funding were difficult to come by and finishing the World War II project had priority.]. [Historical work on Korea] was strung out, and major Army histories concerning the Korean War would not appear until 1961, 1966, and 1972.

NOTE:  These were James F. Schnabel’s Policy and Direction: The First Year (1972), Roy E. Appleman’s South to the Naktong, North to the Yula (1961), and Walter G. Hermes’ Truce Tent and Fighting Front (1966). All are now available, with additional studies, on CD-ROM from the Centre of Military History.]


Author’s notes

*1* (1)  CH Prog Rpts for various dates, 1945-47.  (2) CH Report to Advisory Committee, 7 Nov 1946. [Return]

*2*  (1) Memos and attachments, Winnacker for Greenfield, 6 Nov 1946, and Greenfield for Chief, HD, 12 Nov 1946, in the Greenfield papers.  (2) CH Prog. Rpts, 1946-48.  [Return]

*3*  (1) Seminar file in Greenfield papers.  (2) Clark Report, p. 44.  (3) Col Allison R. Hartman, Memo for Record, 13 Feb 1950, “My Service with the Historical Division Since 1946,” pp. 10-11, in HRC.  (4) CH Prog. Rpts., 28 Jan, 1 Apr, 15 Jul 1947.  [Return]

*4*  This topic is a recurring one in the Chief Historian’s progress reports, 1945-49; the calculation referred to is described in the report of 25 May 1948.  [Return]

*5*  (1) Data in HIS 486.4, Official History, USA in World War II.  (2) Various items in Chief Historian’s folder, “Sales and Distribution.”  (3) CH Prog. Rpt., 1 Sep 1949.  [Return]

*6*  Various papers in two Chief Historian’s files on Advisory Committee meetings, 1946-47.[Return]

*7*  (1)  CH Prog., Rpt, 11 Jan 1949.  (2) Administrative Memo No. 80, 2 Aug 1949. (3) Aug 1949 Survey by the Acting Chief Historian and the Chief, Histories Division, on plans and progress for The United States Army in World War II.  [Return]

*8*  (1) CH Prog. Rpt, 19 Feb 1948.  (2) Dr. Greenfield to Prof. J.D. Bragg, Baylor University, 6 Nov 1948, in Greenfield papers.  [Return]

*9*  (1) Various papers in T 3336/F-7, T 5076, and HB 314.71 WWI History.  (2) Memo,
Mr. Thomas for CMH, 14 Sep 1951, in Chief Historian’s “World War I History” folder.  (3) Maj. Rocco M. Paone (Res.) “The World War I Historical Section, 1941-1952,” in HRC provides a summary that should be used with some caution.   [Return]

*10*  (1) On Thomas’ narrative history, preserved for reference use in the Historical Reference Collection, see the Chief Historian’s review files on this topic.  (2) On the retirement of records, data in T 3514. [Return]

*11*  Memo for record, Gen Spaulding, 11 May 1942, in HRC 314.7 HS, AWC, Vol. 2.
(2) Clark diary, entry of 15 Jan 1947.  (3) Study No. 9, by Lt. Col. R.A. Stamey, Jr., in HRC 319.1 OCMH Prog.  (4) See above, Chapters 3 and 4.  [Return]

*12*  (1) CH Prog Rpts. 1 May 1947, 8 Jul 1948.  (2) AR 220-305, 18 Mar 1949, SR 220-345-1, 7 Feb 1950, and DA Circular 100, 26 Nov 1952, “Military History Indoctrination Plan.”  (3) Draft prepared for the Secretary of the Army’s FY 1948 Annual Report, in OHB “Progress Report” file.   [Return]

*13*(1) Drafts of chronological account of post-surrender enemy studies work in France and Germany, in HRC records, and of an address by Mr. Detmar Finke, June 1971, dealing with the same subject and also describing the several German manuscript series and their use by the Historical Division.  (2) Notes of Dr. Bell I. Wiley on foreign studies work, including interview notes, collected in the mid-1950’s.  (3) Clark Report, p. 29.  (4) Introduction to OCMH’s Guide to Japanese Monographs, 1945-60.  (5) CH Prog Rpt, 11 May 1948.   [Return]

*14*  This process is described most clearly in Mr. Finke’s previously cited address. [Return]

*15*  (1) Report, Gen Robinett to Advisory Committee, 9 Apr 1949, and Ltr, Gen Robinett to Col Clark, 25 Apr 1949, both in HRC 314.7. Robinett Correspondence, 1947-1950.  (2) Report of Gen Robinett to Advisory Committee, 7 Apr 1950, and his draft submission of 13 Sep 1950 for inclusion in OCMH’s “Policy and Procedure Book.”  (3) Graph of Foreign Studies Branch publications, as 1 Jun 1956.  (4) Mr Finke’s June 1971 address.   [Return]

*16*  Special Studies Division Progress Report, 1 Jun 1956.  [Return]