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United States Military Academy Library


Operation Husky: Primary Sources: Operational Documents (Military Unit Records)

This guide is intended to assist cadets with their HI 302 writing assignment.

Introduction to Operational Documents (Military Unit Records)

Allied forces during World War II created, produced and distributed a prodigious amount of paper records.  Units wrote, typed, reproduced, and distributed all kinds of documents before, during, and after operations.  These include written plans, orders, unit histories, periodic records of activity during operations in the field, and after action reports.  These are among the most important documentary primary sources for the operational history of the U.S. Army in World War II.    Even before the war was over, the U.S. Army, the War Department and other government agencies began plans to preserve these records.  Efforts to preserve and make them available continue and likely will for a long time to come.   Today they are available from a number of different sources.  Your instructors have gathered some for you to use and some of the links below can lead you to others.

Even a cursory study of the contents of the repositories listed below will reveal overlap among holdings.   That is, one may discover the same or similar records held.  In some cases the overlap is not complete nor is the extent of the overlap readily apparent.  The sheer amount of records produced and extent of their distribution -- necessitated by the size of the war effort itself -- belies any easy effort to identify precisely which records exist only in one place. 

While this reality offers many advantages for the researcher, it also calls for additional effort -- you must scrutinize carefully the contents of each digital archive, read bibliographic citations, summaries, and descriptions carefully so that you can identify and select which sources you believe will be most relevant for your research.     Do not hesitate to consult your section instructor or library staff with any questions.

Operational Documents from the National Archives

Your instructors, the HI 302 Course Director and other History Department faculty have made available to you digital copies of archival records from various U.S. Army units involved in Operation HUSKY that are now held in the National Archives of the United States.  To access these records, follow the link to in your assignment instructions to the HI 302 shared folder.

Operational Documents at the Donovan Research Library

Operational Documents at the U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Digital Library (CARL)

The Combined Arms Research Library (CARL)  Digital Library contains a great deal of primary source material on the campaign in Sicily. Digital holdings are subdivided into several collections:  CARL's World War II Operational Documents includes after-action reports, training memoranda, and other records created during and shortly after the campaign in Sicily.  It is especially rich in Seventh Army reports, plans, etc. but records for units at other levels are also available.  Keyword searching by "Sicily", by "Operation HUSKY"  or by unit names [or a keyword search combining such terms] may be useful. (Consult an order of battle to identify particular subordinate units of a larger formation whose operations you are studying, and search by those unit names.) 

Orders of Batttle for the United States Army in World War II

When searching for unit records, make certain that you understand the hierarchical organization of the various units involved in Operation HUSKY.  For example, if your topic requires you to examine some phase of the operations of the 3rd Infantry Division, you should learn which subordinate units were assigned to it and to which higher-level organizations it belonged.   Then search collections of unit records for documents related to those subordinate units.  To learn this kind of information, consult an Order of Battle.

82nd Airborne Division records on microfilm at USMA Library

Microfilm is a type of photographic format that was used during the mid and late twentieth centuries to store large amounts of paper documents.  Today many historical documents that were formerly microfilmed have been digitized.  A great many, however, have not been digitized yet, making microfilm as a format for historical documents still relevant.   Microfilm is usually in the form a long strip of photographic exposures stored on reels, that one views with the use of a microfilm reading/printing machine consisting of an assembly of lens and lights.

The USMA Library microfilm collection is located in the 2nd Floor Periodicals Area.

 If you are unfamiliar with the microfilm readers, please read and follow the instructions posted by the machines. 

 

In addition to the reader-scanner that is attached to a computer, at times there may be available an older but useable stand-alone reader-scanner machine is also available during periods of high demand.  When using this older model, this short video may be of additional assistance:

If you have further questions or need individual help.  Should you experience any problems, please inform a library staff member.

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