World War in the Archives

August 30, 2016

wwii soldier

Dr. Edgar Hyde, future Norwich University physician, in London in 1944. Photograph from the Edgar Hyde Papers, available in the Norwich University Archives.

This week, our colleagues in the Sullivan Museum and History Center open their much anticipated exhibit entitled “World War: America and the Creation of a Superpower.” With the 75th anniversary of U.S. entry into WWII in 2016 and the 100th anniversary of our entry into WWI in 2017, the exhibit is perfectly timed to highlight some of the university’s most important contributions to our nation’s history.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Norwich made an impact in these historic conflicts, the University Archives is home to many manuscript collections that document the life and impact of our veterans from both world wars. You can even browse collections by war on our website. Here are just a few examples of what you’ll find:

  • Dwight Smith, Class of 1908, served with the U.S. Marine Corps during World War I. In 1926, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism at Bois-de-Belleau, France, in 1916. His manuscript collection includes a scrapbook, diaries, and his Distinguished Service Cross citation among other papers.
  • Gustaf “Gus” Nelson, Class of 1919, enlisted in the Vermont infantry with the 102nd Machine Gun Battalion of the Yankee Division on 8 April 1917; he was discharged from active duty as a first lieutenant, 15 August 1919. We’ve highlighted his collection before. It includes some of our favorite photographs from this time period, documenting Nelson’s service overseas.

    completed survey

    Gus Nelson’s World War I record of service survey, 1926. Document from the Gustaf Nelson Papers, available in the Norwich University Archives.

  • duVal Allen left Norwich University (without graduating) six months before the United States declared war to serve in the ambulance corps of the French army. He served in the ambulance service of both the French and American armies, 1917-1919, ranking from a private to a 2nd lieutenant. His unit was much decorated, earning the Croix de Guerre, with four palms and three stars, and the Fourragere, shoulder cord, of the military medal. During World War II, Allen was a member of the Maryland state militia, 1943-1945, serving as a captain. His papers include numerous postcards, photographs, maps, certificates, and other documentation of his distinguished military service.
  • John Finn’s education at Norwich University was interrupted by World War II. He served in the 8th Armored Division of the U. S. Army in the European Theater, where he was awarded the Purple Heart after receiving a hand wound. After the war, John Finn returned to Norwich University and graduated with the Class of 1946 with a BA degree. His manuscript collection includes some wonderfully insightful letters that he wrote home to his family while overseas.
  • two soldiers outside a tent

    Dr. Edgar Hyde (left) at his tent quarters, 1943. Photograph from the Edgar Hyde Papers, available in the Norwich University Archives.

    Dr. Edgar Hyde served in the Army Medical Corps during World War II. While in the service, he was in charge of a 400-bed semi-mobile evacuation hospital in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) from December 1942 to September 1945. Upon his discharge, he moved to Northfield, VT, to practice medicine, serving the town and Norwich University, as college physician, for more than thirty-five years. His collection includes a manuscript memoir and dozens of photographs that he took at his field hospital during the war.

–Mary Margaret

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