Society for Military History Records Accrual, 1933-2012
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Brief Description:

The Society for Military History Records (1933-2006) consists primarily of administrative and journal-related correspondence, organizational planning memoranda, and internal officer level reports. The original general arrangement of the records has been retained wherever possible. The majority of the collection is related to the preparation for annual conferences and the publishing of the organization's quarterly journal. The collection is organized into seven series: 1) Historic Papers, 2) Administrative Records, 3) Subject Files, 4) Journal Publishing Records, 5) Financial Records, 6) Printed Material, 7) Photographs. More detailed summaries of each series follow the scope and content section.

Originating as collaboration between the army's publications/historical research office workers and several Washington, D.C. area archivists, the organization, originally called the American Military History Foundation, was formed in an attempt to supplement the military's primary resource-poor collection in preparation to fight future wars. In time, the organization gravitated towards the scholarly study of American war fighting capabilities and public policy. Eventually, the organization grew into a multi-facetted society of scholars, military personnel, archivists, and military history enthusiasts, encompassing a dual foreign and domestic orientation, which encouraged a veritable kaleidoscope of traditional and non-traditional subject fields. Hence, this collection spans the history of the organization's different incarnations chronologically and by subject. These periods of change are reflected in their changes in name. They are the American Military History Foundation (AMHF), 1933-1939, the American Military Institute (AMI), 1939-1990, and the Society for Military History (SMH), 1990-present, respectively.

Their main publication, frequently referred to as "the journal" in documentation, has also changed names several times. They are The Journal of the American Military History Foundation (1937-1939/1940), Military Affairs (1939/1940-1988), and The Journal of Military History (1988-present), respectively.

The records also reflect the organization's involvement with other scholarly organizations, most notably the American Historical Association (AHA), the Organization of American Historians (OAH) and the United States Commission on Military History (USCMH), as well as their affiliation and later absorption of the veterans/historians association the Order of the Indian Wars (OIW).

Consequently, the strength of the collection lies with documentation concerning both the shifting needs of the general military, academic community, and the general public as well as the increased diversification of the military historiographic landscape due to the organization's non-profit efforts in both the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

The Historic Papers (1933-1972) series consists of (1) box of documentation, relating to the original goals of the organization, several early projects, certificates of incorporation, constitutions and by-laws, reports outlining the duties of officers, copyright information, taxes, early organizational correspondence between founding members, and agreements made with other organizations regarding membership and journal publishing, including the Order of the Indian Wars (OIW) and Kansas State University (KSU). Also found in the series are a few 1935 articles, published through Army Ordinance, which provided a mission statement, the creation of an organization beyond the Army History Division and served as the starting point for the organization's publishing arm.

The Administrative Records (1933-2007) series consists of (79) boxes of correspondence and reports circulated between the officers of presidential administrations, individual organizational members, the executive directors, and the boards of trustees. These files include such issues as membership drives, conference planning, journal publication evaluations, officer reports, and general correspondence. The papers covering the early years focus on daily administrative activities within a narrow scope of weeks and months. The papers covering the latter years of the organization span both daily material and long-range planning by the organization's officers. Many notable archivists and historians served as officers in the organization, including Trevor Dupuy, William Foote, B.F. Cooling, Russell Weigley, K. Jack Bauer, Alan Millett, Robert Berlin, Donald Bittner, Timothy Nenninger, Edward Coffman, and Edwin Simmons. Much of the correspondence and officer reports also shed light on several key events in the organization's history, including a 1940s attempted transformation of the journal towards a National Geographic-type format by Dallas Irving, the 1950s and 1960s performance of an all-volunteer editorial staff managed by Victor Gondos, Trevor Dupuy's late 1950 attempts to develop AMI into an increasingly scholarly organization, periodic evaluations of Kansas State University's journal publishing performance, the forces behind the creation of the Moncado Awards and the AMI/SMH Book Award, the search for a replacement publisher for the journal prior to the 1988 completion of KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY 's contract, and reports outlining the sequence of fiscal/membership crises which nearly dissolved the organization. Similarly, the SMH papers of Donald Bittner collected in this series outline the entire process of conference creation from thematic conception to methodological process and management to the post-conference publication of several papers in the Marine Corps University's "Perspectives on Warfighting." Correspondence pertaining to several other noted military historians can also be found in this series, including material by Martin Blumenson, Victor Gondos, Brian Linn, Forest Pogue, Craig Symonds, Dennis Showalter, Robin Higham, Robert Berlin, and Bruce Catton.

The Subject Files (1908-1993) series consists of (11) boxes, containing a wide assortment of document-types from the organization's holdings according to topic and chronology. These files, originally retained separately from the general collection, were frequently utilized by different administrations as reference material for numerous policy initiatives described in other series. The set of records relating to the Order of Indian Wars contain both historic oral histories of the Plaines Wars and membership lists as a recruitment resource, which were incorporated into the organization when the Order of the Indian Wars merged with AMHF/AMI between 1938 and 1947. Other files contain biographical summaries of influential early members and journal contributors. Several files concern the drafts, correspondence, and memoranda on the reorganization of organization. Another collects the correspondence, submitted entries and judges description's for AMI's 1939 "Historical Fire Arms Contest." Still others include the efforts of several public relations to increase membership, membership paraphernalia, contractual agreements with other organizations, reports concerning the location and disposition of the AMI Library and Archives, federal tax-related forms, the history behind the Moncado Award, and one of the only successful 1960s Civil War commemorative events, the AMI Civil War Centennial Celebration.

The Journal Publishing Records (1933-1980) series consists of (13) boxes of correspondence, memoranda, reports, and papers submitted for publication by the journal. It covers the publication's many changes in name, editorial direction and format from The Journal of the American Military History Foundation (1937-1939) to The Journal of the American Military Institute (1939-1941) to Military Affairs (1941-1988), and, most recently, to The Journal of Military History (1989-present). The contents range from submitted manuscripts, such as "The United States Army Troops in China, 1912-1937" by Charles W. Thomas III (circa 1933), to editorial board-level material. Although originating in 1937 as the Journal of the American Military History Foundation, the majority of this collection was gathered together in the 1950s by Victor Gondos and served as the staff's institutional memory during his tenure as editor of Military Affairs. Researchers interested in business history and publishing will find the editor's daily correspondence particularly valuable, detailing the journal's on-going relationship with printers, advertisers, readers, reviewers, and prospective contributors. Another valuable resource includes the Cold War era's editorial board reports, which recorded membership/subscriber growth as well as managed printing venues, advertisers, subscribing institutions, and book reviewers. Other interesting subjects covered by the files include editor Dallas Irving's attempt to widen the journal's readership, the near dissolution of the journal in the late 1940s upon the resignation of the volunteer editor, the brief period in which the publication was maintained by the United States Army Office of the Chief of Military History, the 1949 attempt to rescue the publication by then-Columbia University President Dwight Eisenhower, the 1968 transition of publishing operations from a volunteer staff in the Washington, D.C. area to a paid professional publishing staff comprising Kansas State University's History and English departments and headed by Robin Higham, and a 1998 joint project with the United States Commission on Military History to publish an issue of Reveue Internationale D'Histoire Militair on the relationship between the United States Constitution and America's armed forces.

The Financial Records (1934-1999) series consists of (17) boxes of accounting records, receipts, officer reports, trustees meeting minutes, membership lists, and correspondence by subject and chronology. The first section of the records includes membership lists spanning the early years of the organization and the Cold War era AMI, detailing the status of active members, dues accrued, patrons, and honorary members as well as groupings of members by geographic region. Some individuals listed as members include George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Charles Summerall, Samuel Bemis, William D. Campell, Hoffman Nickerson, Hilario Moncado, Walter Lippmann, Milton Skelly, Bernard Brodie, Stephen Ambrose, and Harold Deutsch. The second section covers the accounting records of the early organization to the onset of the Second World War in the form of bank statements, bound ledgers, deposit slips, paid bills, and check books. The remainder of the collection covers the Treasurer and the Treasurer-Secretary's reports to the organization's officers, meeting minutes with the Board of Trustees, correspondence concerning member's status, investments, and bills to be paid. The financial arrangements made for joint conferences/seminars with other organizations are also interesting, including the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians, arrangements made for the organization's own annual conferences, and the early AMI Treasurer's financial reports concerning membership shortfalls after World War II and the Korean War.

The Printed Material series collects in (3) boxes maps, posters, and illustrations as well as copies of conference programs, newsletters, and some newspaper clippings. The first section of the series contains several black and white illustrations, printed in England, outlining the evolution of weaponry from edged weapons and armor to firearms, graphics describing officer ranks, two World War II era posters ("Careless Talk" and "5th War Loan"), maps of the United States, the world, and a handful of World War I battlefield actions. The second section holds several programs for SMH Annual Meeting events, membership directories for both the AMI and SMH for the years 1981, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2000, and 2002, respectively, and an eighteen year run of the Headquarters Gazette (1990-2008). The final section of the series includes newspaper clippings, featuring the obituaries of notable organizational members. A complete collection of Journal of Military History issues from 1994-2006 has been separated from the papers, catalogued, and shelved in the University Archives.

The Photographs (1940-2008) series collects in (1) box the miscellaneous printed images and portraits of the organization's members. Included in the series are portraits of several early organizational presidents and officers, black and white pictures of the 1968 Victor Gondos Testimonial Dinner, a photo of Victor Gondos at his desk, an assortment of images depicting naval vessels, aircraft, military personnel, and combat actions collected for potential supplements to issues of Military Affairs, as well as amateur pictures taken of SMH awards recipients and panel discussions held at miscellaneous annual conferences.

Held at:
Morse Department of Special Collections
Email: libsc [at]
Created by: Society for Military History (1933-)
Volume: 72.5 Linear Feet
Acquired: 01/01/2007.

These documents span nearly a century of service to the study of military history from post-First World War army historical interest to twenty-first century scholarship. The records arranged to reflect the daily use of the collection as an administrative resource for the SMH, are now organized in the following series: 1) Historic Papers, 2) Administrative Records, 3) AMI Subject Files 4) Journal Publishing Records, 5) Financial Records, 6) Print Material, and 7) Photographs.

Series I: Historic Papers, 1933-1972 (Box 1): While the Society for Military History (SMH) has periodically changed in name, management, and direction to reflect changes in membership goals several times in its history, these documents have been identified for their inherent historic value and as representative of many near-century-long organizational trends. Some of these items include the 1933 Infantry Journal and Ordinance articles (which proposed the creation of the American Military History Foundation [AMHF]), a copy of the organization's mission statement and publishing goals, lists of military history-related documents from other repositories, the American Military Institute (AMI) Certificate of Incorporation, and copy right information. Other files include memoranda outlining the organization's structure, officer duties, proposed changes to the constitution and by-laws and agreements with outside parties (notably the Order of the Indian Wars [OIW] and Kansas State University [KSU]).

Series II: Administrative Records, 1933-2006 (Box 2-81): By far the largest section of the SMH collection, Administrative Records contains the day-to-day business records of the organization from its origins as a 1930s think-tank for archivists and army historians to a national scholarly organization in the twenty-first century. It contains secretarial-level files, officer reports, presidential administration material, and Board of Trustees meeting minutes. While largely dealing with individuals and businesses through correspondence, the contents also shed light on several key organizational matters, including the original intent of the AMHF, the creation of the AMI, the organization's work with the Order of the Indian Wars (OIW), American Historical Association (AHA) and Organization of American Historians (OAH), the proposed creation of a National Military Museum, the transformation of MA into a scholarly publication, the accounting of administration expenses, MA subscription issues, planning for direct mailing campaigns, the creation of regional outlets for AMI, and collected membership biographical queries. The amassed AMI era documentation in this series also provides a venue for the comparisons between various organization presidencies and executive directors, including Colonel William Foote, Charles (Reg) Schrader, Russell Weigley, B.F. Cooling, Edward Simmons, Robert Berlin, and Edward Coffman. Another section includes officer level-papers, which cover a wide range of chronologically arranged and alphabetized correspondence, membership drive material, Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes, membership survey responses as well as several officer-level special projects and seasonal reports. A considerable segment of this series also includes the officer papers of Donald Bittner, documenting the preparations made for the 1992 Annual Meeting and the subsequent creation of the third volume of Marine Corps University's "Perspectives on Warfighting" journal. This material includes conference management paperwork, submitted conference papers, editorial critiques, and promotional activities. Finally, in the form of printed emails, formal correspondence, and officer reports, the SMH era material also contains documents relating to the organization's handling of numerous crises, including the battlefield preservation of Manassas, the proposed creation of a national military history museum, the protests over the potential closure of the Center for Military History at Carlyle Barracks, the effects of OAH activities on the 2000 SMH George Marshall Lecture, personnel and intellectual property rights, disagreements between the officers and the editorial staff of the Journal of Military History, and the controversy over the creation of the SMH website.

Series III: AMI Subject Files, 1925-1999 (Box 82-93): Originally utilized by AMI Librarians/Archivists and officers as reference material for the crafting of organizational policy, this series covers important components of the organization's history only tangentially mentioned in other records. Some sections of this series contain bureaucratic material, including legal agreements concerning publishing rights, AMI ephemera, AMI membership drives, and the formal incorporation of AMI, and AMI President Trevor Dupuy's proposal to restructure the organization and federal tax material. Other files contain subject-specific documentation acquired in the pursuit of special projects, including the personal narratives of veterans of the Plaines Wars originally collected by the Order of the Indian Wars, early primary document collection and bibliographical matter of the American Military History Foundation, an assortment of documentation concerning negotiations to bring Military Affairs to Kansas State University, and the history behind the Moncado Award. Still other files contain event-oriented material, including Victor Gondos's plans for AMI's Civil War Centennial events, membership entry paperwork for a 1939 "Historic Fire Arms Contest," and book sales at the organization's annual conferences. The final segment of the series contains the correspondence and reports filed by the AMI Librarian/Archivist, noting the changing locations and dispositions of AMI's library holdings, which were scattered across many states, repositories and basements of private houses, while the officers searched for a permanent site to house the records.

Series IV: Journal Publishing Records, 1933-1989 (Box 94-107): Spanning the first issues of The Journal of the American Military History Foundation in the 1930s in Washington, D.C through the Military Affairs years at Kansas State University (KSU) to the postmodern Journal of Military History published at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), this series collects the operating and editorial-related documentation for the organization's quarterly published magazine/journal. It includes manuscript copies of articles reviewed and/or published by the journal, format changes made to the periodical over the years, reports detailing changes in editorial policy, editorial board meeting minutes, and editor's correspondence with writers, advertisers, and printers as well as query letters, book review discussions, subscription drives, and accounting records. The most complete records cover editorial operations handled by Robert DeT. Lawrence and William Ross, Michael Skelly, Victor Gondos, and Robin Higham. Several of the records also provide a window to the journal's symbiotic relationship with the greater organization, including the publication's defined mission, its pivotal role in the development of membership and direction for the organization during the Cold War, and periodic discussions about shifting publications format and content criteria from a secular magazine to a scholarly journal. Other items of note include reports and meeting minutes regarding the 1949-1952 near-dissolution of the publication, the management of the organization's newsletter, The Headquarters Gazette, and the publication's evolution from a volunteer-based staff in the Great Depression and Second World War to a professional model under KSU History Professor Robin Higham in the late 1960s to the relocation and transition of operations to desktop publishing at VMI in 1988.

Series V: Financial Records 1933-1975, (Box 108-125): This series contains the first forty-two years of AMHF/AMI financial records (1933-1975), covering the transition of the organization from a Washington, D.C. beltway seminar group (AMHF) to a more academically-oriented organization for military historians (AMI) and, eventually, to an all-inclusive scholastic organization (SMH). Most of this series is comprised of budgetary ledgers, bank statements, membership dues lists, and check books, concerning the underwriting of organization's early membership participation. A thorough search of the records, however, will also reveal details behind the organization's publication efforts (most notably The Journal of the American Military History Foundation/Military Affairs), and numerous events, including one-day events, guest joint-sessions at other venues, such as the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians, and the group's own annual meetings. Similarly, whereas a large portion of the series chronicles the accounting practices of the group, special attention should also be paid to the Treasurer's reports and officer correspondence as well as the meeting minutes of several Boards of Trustees and early membership demographics by region. Taken together, these files reveal a consistent triage-oriented fiscal policy, which permeated the organization's early struggles to gain self-sufficiency. Consequently, officers attempted to mitigate shortfalls through membership recruitment campaigns, the application of funds to more immediately beneficial group projects, and the constant monitoring of their financial investments as a direct result of the series of budgetary crises in the 1950s, which nearly caused the dissolution of Military Affairs (MA) and the AMI.

Series VI: Printed Material, 1939-2004 (Box 126-128): In over seventy years of operation, AMHF/AMI/SMH staff and members collected numerous journal inserts, graphics, maps, hand-drawn/painted illustrations, and posters. Some of these items, such as graphics and maps, were utilized in journal publications. Other items include members printed obituaries, membership directories, Annual Meeting Programs and issues of the Headquarters Gazette.

Series VII: Photographs, 1930s-1999 (Box 129): This series contains photographic portraits of several organizational presidents, pictures of testimonial dinner attendees and conference presenters, and miscellaneous photographs related to Military Affairs that were kept for the sake of posterity. Still other items found in this series were collected by various members in their world travels and sent to sitting officers as gifts.

Biographical Note for Society for Military History (1933-) :

1933      June 1: The American Military History Foundation (AMHF) is established in the Washington, D.C. metro area.      

1935      Army Ordinance runs three AMHF articles.

1935      Dec., AMHF holds a joint session with the American Historical Association (AHA) in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

1937      April 01, The Journal of the American Military History Foundation begins publication.

1938      The Order of the Indian Wars (OIW) grants AMHF access to OIW membership lists, but also requires the organization to both publish thirty-two pages of Indian War-related material annually and to sit one member of OIW on the Board of Trustees.

1939      The American Military History Foundation is officially renamed the American Military Institute (AMI). The Journal of the American Military History Foundation is renamed The Journal of the American Military Institute.

1941      The Journal of the American Military Institute is renamed Military Affairs (MA).

1941      AMI sponsors a "seminar-conference" on "The Total Science of War", revolving around issues concerning the preceding two years of European warfare.

1943      MA receives a query from the Soviet Information Bureau, asking if it would accept submissions on Soviet military history.

1945      "The Atomic Bomb and Its Implications," an AMI lecture and panel discussion is given at the National Archives; panelists included General Leslie Groves.

1946      Lt. General J. Lawton Collins, a World War II VII Corp Commander, presents a lecture on "The Battle for Cherbourg" to AMI members.

1948      OIW formally merges with AMHF/AMI.

1948      Hilario Moncado contributes a revolving book fund of $5,000 to the organization, which would bear his name, for the purpose of publishing a series of significant military books through the AMI. The Book Award is later changed to a journal-based criteria, awarding authors of the four best articles published during the year in the organization's journal, Military  Affairs, $200.

1948      Military Affairs is run by paid editors through the Office of the Chief of Military History (Major Robert De T. Lawrence and Captain William Ross).  After one year, the operation is ordered discontinued from DoD operations by Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson.

1949      Without an editor, Military Affairs goes on a one-year hiatus.

1950      November 3, An emergency meeting of members is called in the Pentagon auditorium. When Colonel Milton Skelly agrees to serve as the new  interim editor, Military Affairs resumes publication, simultaneously printing the lost year and concurrent issues.

1956      The AMI and AHA hold a joint conference discussing "The Teaching of Military History: Pro and Con," held in St. Louis, Missouri.

1957      AMI and MA nears collapse due to a lack of office space, an all-volunteer staff, lack of time, quality and manpower to produce a "superlative" journal, and sorely limited membership.

1959      A temporary office for AMI is set up in a corner of the Army Library at the Pentagon.

1968      Kansas State University begins publishing Military Affairs, edited by Robin Higham.

1971      AMI holds three joint conferences with other scholarly bodies to increase participation by members outside the Washington, D.C. area, including the Southern Historical Association at Houston.

1973      AMI is represented at the International Commission of Military History in Stockholm, Sweden.

1975      AMI is represented at the International Congress of Historical Sciences in San Francisco.

1984      AMI creates the position of Executive Director. Officers, such as Archivist, Secretary, Treasurer, and Institute Newsletter Editor, who now receive some form of remuneration for their services.

1985      AMI retains a headquarters in Washington, D.C. with Executive Directors and Treasurers receiving stipends. 1987      AMI expands their traditional conference methodology to encompass a wider scope of subject matter and national level participation at the Annual Meeting in Richmond, Virginia.

1988      The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) assumes publication of Military Affairs.

1989      Military Affairs is renamed The Journal of Military History.

1989      AMI enters into a joint book project with the U.S. Commission on Military History (USCMH) to publish the first American-produced issue of Revue Internationale D'Histoire Militair on the U.S. Constitution and the armed forces.

1989      AMI establishes a system of regional coordinators to promote nationwide membership.

1990      AMI is renamed the Society for Military History (SMH).

1999      SMH and the George C. Marshall foundation co-sponsor the George C. Marshall Lecture Program.

2003      SMH organizes to oppose the shuttering of historical operations at the Center for  Military History (CMH).

2007-2008 AMHF/AMI/SMH papers are formally transmitted to Kansas State University for processing, permanent retention, and access by members and researchers.

Access Restrictions: No access restriction:  All materials are open for research.
Subject Index
Kansas life and culture - Military history
Languages of Materials
English [eng]
Rights/Use Restrictions: The researcher assumes full responsibility for observing all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.
Physical Access Notes: Original materials available during open hours of repository and any digitized materials that are online are available with Internet access.
Acquisition Notes: Society for Military History  Donation for the preservation and academic use of institutional records.
PreferredCitation: [Item title], [item date], Society of Military History Records, Box [number], Folder [number or title], Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State Universtiy Libraries.