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The Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection

Joseph M. Bruccoli in his World War I unit

The Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection was established by Matthew J. Bruccoli in 1965 in memory of his father, Joseph M. Bruccoli (1892?-1965), a veteran of the Great War. Professor Bruccoli, a graduate of Yale University who received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Virginia, initially planned to collect the fiction of the war. The focus of the collection has greatly widened over the years, and the steady stream of material added to it each year includes non-fiction, posters, sheet music, broadsides, manuscripts, ephemera, movies, photographs--anything and everything that its donor believes will be useful to the study of the conflict.

ABC Picture Blocks (1914-1915)

Today the Library also acquires material for the collection, especially manuscripts and non-fiction. Many friends and associates of Professor Matthew J. Bruccoli have donated books and manuscripts to the collection; one of these donors lives in Australia and has sent many items about the effects of the Great War in that country that would otherwise be very difficult to find. In 1997, Professor Bruccoli shared in the donation to the collection of the World War I materials assembled by Dr. Charles J. Bailey, who also holds a doctorate from the University of Virginia. The 1,500 item Bailey collection nearly doubled the size of the Bruccoli collection, and complements the resources in it particularly well. Dr. Bailey collected books, pamphlets, and articles pertaining to the war that were published in the U.S. and abroad in the period 1914-1920, as well as official reports and documents. The American Antiquarian Society donated thousands of issues of camp newspapers representing over 100 titles to the collection in 2001.

A 1968 exhibition of materials from the Great War Collection on the fiftieth anniversary of the Armistice displayed novels and books of poetry from World War I. In 1993, the year of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Armistice ending the war, an exhibition emphasized other areas of the Bruccoli Collection and of material from the Special Collections Department's general collections to demonstrate the breadth of the Library's holdings relating to World War I. The University of South Carolina hosted a major exhibition of materials drawn from the Great War Collection; the exhibition was held in conjunction with a symposium on World War I. Sheet music from the Great War Collection was featured in the Library's 2001-2002 exhibition Lift Every Voice: Music in American Life. While much of the material shown in these exhibitions reflects the United States and its people, the collection includes material from Great Britain, France, Australia, Germany, and other nations involved in the war.

England's Saints (ca. 1918) by James Rhoades
The Boy Allies on the Firing Line, cover (1915)

The Great War had a profound effect on the history of the United States and of the world as a whole. All the people who fought it or who endured it at home were affected by it as were succeeding generations. The Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection and the complementary collections in Special Collections that relate to World War I, such as the John Dos Passos Papers and the James Rogers McConnell Memorial Collections, are important resources for this seminal period and its effects.

Professor Bruccoli has also established a Great War Collection at the University of South Carolina Library.

The Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection, by Matthew J. Bruccoli, is reproduced here by kind permission of the author.

Guides to the manuscript holding of the Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection are available online.

Printed and published materials in the Great War Collection are cataloged and records are available in the Library's online catalog, VIRGO. To retrieve a list of the titles in the Great War Collection:

  • type bruccoli great war collection in the search box
  • select spec-coll as the library (use the pulldown menu)
  • click on the button labelled keyword anywhere.

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