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United States Military Academy Library

Luzon: Primary Sources: Personal Papers of Senior Commanders

Introduction to personal papers of senior U.S. Army commanders

Limited Access to Microfilm Collections and Archival/Historical Manuscript Collections Described on This Page is scheduled to be restored during Fall 2020. Please check back for updates.


Most U.S. Army general officers who served during the twentieth century generated and received a great deal of correspondence as a result of both their personal lives and professional activities. In many cases, either they or surviving family members ensured that the resultant cumulative record of their life and work was preserved by donation to archives, whether government archives, private institutions, or the special collections of various colleges and universities. Archivists generally refer to this category of primary source material as "personal papers", but in fact collections of this nature often contain a mixture of both private correspondence and letters to family and friends and the individual's own copies of official documents he or she used in the course of professional work. Therefore the scope of these kinds of collections is quite broad and often of use for researchers.  Indeed, the personal papers of senior Army commanders during World War II constitute one of the most important categories of primary source material for understanding the conduct of the United States war effort. During the decades that followed the end of the war, many collections of personal papers were microfilmed or, later, digitized in part or in full meaning that researchers may not even have to visit the institution that holds the originals in order to benefit from them. The USMA Library holds collections of both originals and microfilm of several of the most important commanders during the later phases of the Pacific War, some of which are quite relevant to a study of the Luzon Campaign.


Several examples are described below.   To locate others, do a "Browse by Name" search in the USMA Library catalog by the name of the commander (entering it in the form last name, first name)

Papers of General Douglas MacArthur

The collected papers of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur contain a great deal of original records and correspondence.  They are held at the MacArthur Memorial and Museum in Norfolk, Virginia but have been microfilmed.  The USMA Library has a copy of the microfilmed records and USMA faculty, staff and cadets can consult them here.  They are organized into five "Record Groups" [i.e., large sub-collections of records orginating from a particular period, organization, or particular scope of a person's activities], numbered RG 1-5.

The scope of the MacArthur Papers go far beyond simply correspondence and letters to and from MacArthur himself and his own orders, etc.  They also include a great deal of primary source material on the conduct of the war in the Southwest Pacific Area Command general.

The originals of the MacArthur Papers are held in the Library & Archives of MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, VA.  They have been microfilmed, however, and USMA Library holds a copy of the microfilmed papers.  They are extensive, and RG 3 alone totals 171 microfilm reels while RG 4 totals 36 reels.  Fortunately a very detailed inventory and finding aid is available in the microfilm area of the USMA Library.  General descriptions of each of the record groups overall are available from the MacArthur Memorial website.  Cadets are encouraged to explore both the general descriptions and the detailed inventory; in most cases some general familiarity with the historiography (i.e. sense of the standard secondary sources) on MacArthur's role in the liberation of Luzon will be helpful in understanding the relevance of the impressive array of primary source evidence available in this collection.

The MacArthur Papers on microfilm are located in the Jefferson Hall 2nd Floor microfilm area, numbered 5:1:1.  A catalog description of the overall collection is found here

Walter Krueger Papers

Papers of Lt. Gen. Walter Krueger are held at several archives around the U.S. one of which is the USMA Library.  The complex way in which prominent participants in the major events of the twentieth century created and preserved records of their own activities makes it not uncommon that an individual's papers may not all be collected and reside in a single institution.   The body of Krueger papers held in USMA Library are extensive and pertain to multiple eras of his life and career, not just his command of the U.S. 6th Army in the liberation of Luzon campaign.   Source on that experience are, nevertheless, may present and may be of interest depending upon your chosen topic.  An inventory of the Krueger papers at USMA is available, but researchers will note that it does not include a detailed item by item description of each document.   In many cases researchers interested in Krueger's activitieis during the Luzon campaign will simply have to use the inventory as a starting point and investigate the documents themselves.   The Krueger papers are located in USMA Library Archives and Special Collections, in Barlett Hall.  For more information on Special Collections and Archives, click here.

For a general description of the Krueger papers overall, see here.  The see an inventory of the contents of the Krueger papers, examine the general description just cited and locate the link "Partial inventory online"

Robert L. Eichelberger Papers

Microfilm copies of the papers of the commander of the U.S. Eighth Army during the Philippines campaign, Lt. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger, are held by the USMA Library.    Especially useful documents include additional primary sources on the operations of the 11th Airborne Division (beyond the documents available in the HI 302 source pack on the Gemini Drive), as well as some typescript translations of narratives composed by captured Japanese officers who fought against the Americans in the Luzon campaign.

A printed guide and reel-by-reel description of the Eichelberger Papers is available and shelved in the microfilm guides area on the 2nd Floor of Jefferson Hall.  

For a general description of the Eichelberger Papers, consult the record in Scout. For more detailed descriptions of the contents, consult the printed guide.



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