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J. Russell Major Papers

Identifier: MS-0432
The collection consists of J. Russell Major's World War II papers, primarily letters written to his parents during the period 1942-1945. The early letters covers his training as a Field Artillery officer at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma (1942-1944) and other U. S. bases, including Laurinburg-Maxton Army Air Base (Glider School) and Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Letters from July 1944-May 1945 date from his service as a forward artillery observer in France and Germany. Other items in the collection include miscellaneous orders, 1942-1945; papers relating to his awards (Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart); his service record; notes relating to his army career; and 4 volumes of the U. S. Army official history (European Theater), with one volume annotated by Major. Major's World War II reminiscences, based in part on the correspondence in this collection, were published in 1999 under the title "The Memoirs of an Artillery Forward Observer, 1944-1945." The book is in Preston Library's rare book collection.


  • 1942 - 1945


Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions
Conditions Governing Access Manuscript collections in the VMI Archives are made available for educational and research use. The VMI Archives should be cited as the source. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright holders. Materials from our collections may not be redistributed, published or reproduced without permission from the VMI Archives. Contact the VMI Archives for additional information.


2 cubic feet

Biographical / Historical

Historian James Russell Major (b. 1921 d. 1998) was graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1942. During World War II, he served in the United States Army (Field Artillery) and was stationed in the European Theater of Operations with the 949th Field Artillery Battalion as a forward artillery observer. Following the war, Major attended graduate school at Princeton University where he earned his Ph.D in History. A noted authority on French and European history, he was a Professor at Emory University from 1949-1990 and was instrumental in building the history program at Emory. Mr. Major died in Atlanta in December 1998.

Physical Location

Manuscripts Stacks

Related Materials

Papers relating to Major's professional career are located at Emory University. J. Russell Major Papers, 1949-2003. Finding aid

Repository Details

Part of the Virginia Military Institute Archives Repository

VMI Archives
Preston Library
Lexington VA 24450