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Cornelius Ryan Collection of World War II Papers

Overview of the Collection

  • Creator: Cornelius J. Ryan
  • Title: Cornelius Ryan Collection of World War II Papers
  • Date: 1920-1974, with book and document supplements
  • Abstract: Correspondence, documents, photographs, diaries, accounts, manuscripts, audio tapes, interviews, journal articles, screenplays, scrapbooks, memorabilia, and books detailing Ryan’s career as a journalist and author of the books The Longest DayThe Last Battle, and A Bridge Too Far.
  • Quantity: 110 cu ft

Digitized items from the Ryan Collection

Scope and Content of the Collection

The Ryan Collection primarily consists of material relating to World War II, the European Theater of Operations, in the form of his research papers and files for his three battle books: The Longest Day (Operation OVERLORD, Normandy, France, June 6, 1944); A Bridge Too Far (Operation MARKET-GARDEN, Holland, September 17-26, 1944); and, The Last Battle (the capture of Berlin, Germany, April 15-May 10, 1945).  There are personal files for 3,072 individuals, both military and civilian participants of the battles, covering all nationalities.  The files contain 2,551 questionnaires, 955 interviews, and numerous letters, diaries, accounts, and observations. In addition, there are 166 audio recordings of interviews.  Of particular note among the interviews are those with Prince Bernhard of The Netherlands, President Eisenhower, and General Simpson, all from 1963.

In addition to the personal files there are numerous newspaper and magazine articles and book excerpts dealing with the battles.  Ryan also collected military documents of all types: combat interviews and after action reports, war diaries, message files and logs, strategic and tactical analyses, maps, and unit histories from all national forces involved.  Of particular note among the military documents are war diaries and message logs of the major German commands from all three battles and accounts, interrogations and unit histories from the Moscow Archives concerning the storming of Berlin.  The bulk of the German documents had not been consulted by any researcher prior to Ryan and, in the case of the Russian documents, no one else had ever been allowed access to the Moscow Archives.

There are in excess of 1,900 original photographs in the files, collected from various national archives and private individuals, the vast majority of which are unpublished.

The remainder of the Ryan Collection deals with his journalistic productions.  The research files for his two articles “One Minute to Ditch” and “Five Desperate Hours in Cabin 56” are complete, containing interviews, photographs, and official documents.  Also of special note among these files are a collection of interviews with President Eisenhower’s West Point classmates (class of 1915) and correspondence and original material on the early American space program from Dr. Werhner von Braun.

Short Biography of Cornelius J. Ryan

Organization of the Collection

These records are organized primarily by the books Ryan authored:

Other materials and topics in the collection include:

  • Material in Book Files of Special Note
  • Books and Book Excerpts
  • Journal and Periodical Articles
  • Military Documents, Reports, and Publications
  • Pamphlets, Brochures, Titled Accounts, Speeches, etc.
  • Audio Recordings
  • Screenplays, Radio Broadcasts Scripts, Film
  • Other Manuscript Materials
  • Armageddon
  • Unlabeled Manuscript
  • Journalistic Materials
  • Discoverer XVIII
  • Apollo 11 and Apollo 12
  • Communications Satellites
  • Photographs and Artwork
  • Miscellaneous Notebooks
  • Miscellaneous Audio Recordings
  • Travel Guides and Books
  • Photographs and Memorabilia
  • Reference Library

Administrative Information

  • Restrictions: This collection is open to use under the rules and regulations of the Ohio University Libraries.
  • Preferred Citation: Cornelius Ryan Collection of World War II Papers, Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, Ohio University Libraries
  • Accession Number: MSS#20
  • Provenance: The Ohio University Libraries received the collection through Kathryn Morgan Ryan in 1981.
  • Property Rights: The Ohio University Libraries owns the property rights to this collection.
  • Copyrights: Geoffrey Ryan and Victoria Ryan Bida retain the literary rights they may possess in the materials.  Consideration of such rights and any other rights owned by others is the responsibility of the researcher and publisher.
  • Photo Duplication: Ohio University Libraries will entertain requests to photocopy reasonable amounts of material from the collection for the convenience of individual researchers.
  • Processing: The Collection was received in 1981 and processed by Richard Coleman over the next two years.  A Supplement was received in 1984 and processed by Ann Calvin.  Materials relating to the Collection have been received since that time and were processed by Doug McCabe.

Related Materials

Other books and articles by Ryan include:

  • The Star-Spangled Mikado (with Frank Kelley, 1947)
  • MacArthur: Man of Action (with Frank Kelley, 1950)
  • Across the Space Frontier (with Dr. Werhner von Braun, 1952)
  • Conquest of the Moon (with Dr. Wernher von Braun, 1953)
  • One Minute to Ditch (1957)
  • “Beautiful Murder,” Life, 2 June 1947. p.7
  • “The Women Behind MacArthur,” Collier’s, 23 September 1950
  • “Ireland Today: From Great Famine to Great Future,” Collier’s, 17 March 1951
  • “Operation Eggnog: Preview of the War We Do Not Want,” Collier’s, 27 October 1951
  • “Man Will Conquer Space Soon,” Collier’s, 22 March 1952
  • “Man on the Moon: The Journey,” Collier’s, 18 October 1952
  • “Man on the Moon: The Exploration,” Collier’s, 25 October 1952
  • “Man’s Survival in Space: Emergency!” Collier’s, 14 March 1953
  • “The Baby Space Station,” Collier’s 27 June 1953
  • “Midget Subs: The Navy’s New Sneak Weapon,” Collier’s, 21 August 1953
  • “G-Gas, A New Weapon of Chilling Terror – We Have It – So Do the Russians,” Collier’s, 27 November 1953
  • “These Fighters Take Off Straight Up,” Collier’s 2 April 1954
  • “Can We Get to Mars?” Collier’s, 30 April 1954
  • “Stereatronics: A New Science That Will Change Your Way of Life,” Collier’s, 3 September 1954
  • “I Rode the World’s Fastest Sub,” Collier’s, 1 April 1955
  • “The Navy Comes Up with a Real ‘Flying Saucer’,” Collier’s, 29 April 1955
  • “From Plebe to President,” Collier’s, 10 June 1955
  • “NATO’s Navy,” Collier’s, 20 January 1956
  • “What Made Vuky Race?” Collier’s, 25 May 1956
  • “The Major of St. Lo,” Collier’s, 6 June 1956
  • “The Andrea Doria’s Untold Story: Five Desperate Hours in Cabin 56,” Collier’s, 28 September 1956
  • “One Minute to Ditch,” Collier’s, 21 December 1956
  • “Queen of the Seas,” Saturday Evening Post, 14 September 1957, p.48-121.  Full text available to Ohio U only.
  • “Air Age Bargin Mart,” Reader’s Digest, 1957
  • “More of The Longest Day,” Reader’s Digest, 6 June 1965

Bound volumes of Collier's and The Reader's Digest are available from the Library Annex.