Thanks to a generous donation from Brigadier General Bruce Adams (Ret.), Hale Library Special Collections at Kansas State University is now home to a collection of military records, letters, and documents that trace the military and family history of George Adams, Sr., George Adams, Jr., and Bruce Adams.
With the death of his own father, General Bruce Adams saw that the passing of family members creates an impassable barrier, and he believes it is critical to begin the recording process of a complex story while the memories are still accessible. As part of that process, early this year Chapman Center Director Dr. Bonnie Lynn-Sherow interviewed General Adams about the collection and his rich family history.
This past summer, returning intern, Jessica Hermesch, began working with the collection in the University archives to build a narrative of the family history, beginning with the service of George Adams, Sr., in World War I. Jessica has sorted through dozens of documents chronicling George Sr.’s career as a Corporal in K Company, with the 140th Infantry Regiment in World War I. The 140th, as a part of the 35th Infantry Division, took part in combat operations in the Muese-Argonne offensive. George Sr. also trained with the 353rd Infantry Regiment at Camp Funston, a garrison at Fort Riley.
Jessica’s research focuses on the patriotism passed from Adams father to son. She hopes to construct a narrative chronicling how values were passed from George Sr. to George Jr., who flew as a reconnaissance pilot in World War II. Her work prepares for future research on George Jr.’s record in WWII as well as General Adams’ military service. Both George Adams Jr. and General Adams attended Kansas State University and have deep connections to the University, including an Army ROTC scholarship.
One of the special items featured in the Adams Collection is the wallet that George Adams Sr. carried through France during World War I. The contents include currency, both French (Un Franc) and German (Eine Rentenmark).
At the top of the photo (left) is George Sr.’s Army registration card and a miniature deck of cards. George Sr. passed the cards to his son, George Jr., who then passed them to his son, General Bruce Adams. George Sr. received the cards in 1917 before he left for Europe. General Bruce Adams was presented with the cards in 1998.
Jessica, whose family has its own military record, is interested in comparing how different families experienced the military. Jessica’s great uncle served in World War II and his father before him in World War I.
“The Adams Collection fascinates me because most of what I’ve learned about military history is the big picture and strategic story, but this has given me a chance to examine the individual lives of soldiers.”
– Jessica Hermesch, Chapman Center Intern
The Adams also resided for a period in Seneca, Kansas, Jessica’s hometown. According to Jessica, this shared location makes the connection to the Adams Collection even more interesting for her.
Michael Spachek, Jessica’s colleague, contributed a war diary belonging to his great-grandfather from his own family collection. She uses the diary to offer context for her work on World War I and to learn more about the life of soldiers in Europe. Jessica’s research, planned for completion in early 2015, and the Adams Collection both seek to honor this country’s veterans, past and present.