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Collection John J. Pershing Papers

About this Collection

The diaries, notebooks, and address books of John Joseph Pershing (1860-1948), U.S. army officer and commander-in-chief of the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I, are part of a larger collection of Pershing papers available for research use onsite in the Manuscript Reading Room of the Library of Congress. The entire collection spans the years 1882-1971, with the bulk of the material concentrated in the period 1904-1948. It consists of correspondence, diaries, notebooks, speeches, statements, writings, orders, maps, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, picture albums, posters, photographs, printed matter, and memorabilia.  This digital collection is comprised of the contents of Boxes 1-7 (Diaries, Notebooks, and Address Books, 1882-1925) and Boxes 395-397, containing similar items in the Addition series.

Address books in the first series date from 1905 while Pershing was a military attaché in Japan and from 1908 when Pershing was stationed at Fort William McKinley in the Philippines.

The typed diaries, organized into two sets, describe Pershing's command of the American Expeditionary Forces in France during World War I and his postwar service as army chief of staff until 1925. Set I, a ribbon copy, includes minor penciled notations and a clipping mounted into the text. Set II consists of a carbon copy of a separately typed version extracted from the first set of the entries for the World War I period, 1917-1919.

The notebooks mainly document Pershing's army career prior to 1917, with a few that overlap the World War I diaries. The first notebook, from 1882, Pershing's plebe year at the United States Military Academy, is identified as his "cadet check book," or account book. There are notebooks covering much of the rest of his time at West Point, 1883-1884, and 1886, the year he graduated.

Some of Pershing's notebooks are diary-like accounts focused on particular military or diplomatic assignments. A notebook dated 1897-1898 documents his service during the Spanish-American War as commander of Company A, probably the 10th Calvary. Notebooks from 1902-1903 treat his experiences in the Philippines, including the Lake Lanao campaign. One of the Lake Lanao notebooks includes agreements with Moslem leaders in Arabic script. Other notebooks document his tour of duty as a military attaché in Tokyo and as an observer in the field during the Russo-Japanese War. Later ones relate to his expedition in Mexico against Pancho Villa just prior to the American participation in World War I.

In boxes 395-397 from the Addition series are more address books, notebooks and diaries, including of his wife, Helen F. Pershing, who died with three of his children in a fire in 1915, and personal jottings by him from 1900, 1904-1905, 1918, and 1934.