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Cornelius Ryan Collection of World War II Papers

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About the Collection

The digital collection of the Cornelius Ryan Collection of World War II Papers consists of material related to World War II and the European Theater of Operations, in the form of Ryan’s research and files associated with his three major battle books:

  • The Longest Day (Operation OVERLORD, also known as D-Day, Normandy, France, June 6, 1944)
  • A Bridge Too Far (Operation MARKET-GARDEN, Holland, September 17-26, 1944)
  • The Last Battle (Battle of Berlin, Germany, April 15-May 10, 1945)

Each of these three series contain questionnaires completed by veterans that Ryan used to research his books. Respondents were solicited through ads placed in Reader’s Digest during the 1950s and 1960s. Upon returning the completed questionnaires, some were invited to participate in interviews conducted by Ryan and his research team. Additional material such as photos of respondents, correspondence, and diary entries were also collected. These submissions were filed in coded, cross-referenced folders, one for each respondent, and organized by nationality and military formation.

Within the physical collection, there are personal files for 3,072 individuals--both military and civilian participants in the battles--representing various nationalities. The files contain 2,551 questionnaires, 955 interviews, and numerous letters, diaries, accounts, and observations. The collection also contains 166 audio recordings of interviews. In addition to original material, there are many copies of archival documents, articles, and secondary sources Ryan used for research. Reproduced content is not available in the digital collection, which features primary source material curated and requested from the larger, physical collection.

Learn more about the physical collection by visiting the finding aid.

Sensitive Content Warning

The Cornelius Ryan Collection of World War II Papers contains first-hand accounts of those who witnessed and experienced violent, traumatic events. Their stories, writings, and images convey the physical and emotional effects of war, and describe graphic scenes of battle in which many lives were lost.

Citation of Collection

Cornelius Ryan Collection of World War II Papers, Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, Ohio University Libraries.

Future Additions

The size and scope of the digital collection is demand-driven, meaning that when the Libraries receives a request to digitize specific questionnaires, they will be added to the publicly accessible digital collection. Research and digitization inquiries can be submitted to Manuscripts Archivist, Greta Suiter, via the Mahn Center Research Request Form.

Related Collections

See additional items from the Mahn Center's online manuscript collections.

The Mahn Center’s manuscript holdings include additional military collections that may not be accessible online but are available for research.

Access at Alden

Original manuscript materials can be viewed at the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, on the 5th floor of Alden Library. See the Manuscripts overview for more information.

Access Online

Browse and search the collection in CONTENTdm.


Transcripts made possible in part by the generous support of Canadian Research and Mapping Association (CRMA) volunteers and the organization’s Project ‘44 web map.

Collection Contact

Use the Mahn Center Research Request Form to submit a question to Manuscripts Archivist Greta Suiter.


See the Digital Archival Collections Materials Selection and Rights policy.

Rights Statement

The Cornelius Ryan Collection of World War II Papers is a mixed-rights collection. Rights vary by individual item source. Works created by the United States federal government are in the public domain.

Original material created by Cornelius Ryan, his research team, and contributors is protected by copyright and/or related rights. See the In Copyright statement for online cultural heritage works.

In Copyright