Find field artillery archives with new online catalog

By Jeff Crawley, Fort SillApril 25, 2013

U.S. Army Field Artillery School archives ready to be perused sit in boxes in the FA historian's office in Snow Hall here April 12, 2013. John Miller, USAFAS archivist, has made the search for documents in the school's academic research archives easi... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT SILL, Okla. (April 25, 2013) -- From original handwritten field artillery student-papers from the 1900s to early photographs of the posts' hunt clubs to the development and finalization of the U.S. Army Field Artillery School (USAFAS) badge in 1924, the FA school's archives contain a wide variety of documented artillery history beginning with Fort Sill's inception in 1869.

John Miller, USAFAS archivist, is making it easier to search for these documents by creating finding aids in the school's academic research archives through their online Digital Collection. This will directly benefit students, faculty and staff here, as well as anyone in the public interested in researching the historic aspects of field artillery.

"Through the descriptive finding aids, I wanted to stimulate people to come and see the documents first hand in the archives," Miller said. "Archives are a different way to think. It's a tactile experience, you can put your hands on history."

Miller favors the respect des fonds archival system that keeps subject matter grouped together. From within this subject matter various categories or sub-series are developed. He also makes use of the provenance system whenever possible, which keeps archives in the original order they were found.

The three primary collection titles Miller created are: Education and Training; Combat Development; and the Fires Center of Excellence History Collection.

Each primary collection found in the online Digital Collection contains an abstract and descriptive summary. The sub-series are developed within each collection.

For example, the Combat Development collection begins with Series 1: Testing and Research. The series description contains the record's box number, folder contents, material dates and box location. Series 2 is for Official Correspondence and Memoranda, etc. Each of the collections use this same basic framework to list its own unique content.

"Most of these series contain a large amount of material yet they're still quite concentrated," Miller said.

Miller also set up the online finding aids for the user to perform word-specific searches.

"The large percentage of archives I've seen online are not capable of allowing for word-specific searches within their finding aids, that makes this archive both unique and valuable, but also quite effective for academic research purposes," he said.

So far, Miller has archived about 100 cubic feet of material. There will be more than 500 cubic feet of archives when he is finished.

That will consist of thousands of papers, photographs, monographs, letters and titles. Future archived materials will also include lessons learned from the Vietnam War.

"That will be a large and valuable series containing 20 to 30 cubic feet of archives," Miller said.

"In addition, there's also extensive material on the early development of drones, he added.

The FA archives are in the FA historian office in Snow Hall's basement, Room 19. Hours are weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please call before showing up at 580-442-1988. The archives listings will soon be available at on the "browse archives" link.