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Collection chronicles the personal side of war

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BerichtGeplaatst: 19 Nov 2006 9:09    Onderwerp: Collection chronicles the personal side of war Reageer met quote

Collection chronicles the personal side of war

When Matthew Bruccolicq was a boy in the 1930s, his father would take him to the Nov. 14 Armistice Day parades and pin his World War I service medal to his son’s coat.

Joseph M. Bruccoli was intensely patriotic and loved America, his only child said. The medal had eight bars for the battles in which he participated. In one of those battles he was severely wounded and a metal plate was used to repair his head.

To honor his father, Bruccoli said he did “what I’m good at.” The Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection is among the 25 collections that Bruccoli a USC emeritus professor, has donated to or established, in collaboration with others, at USC’s Thomas Cooper Library. The best-known one is the Matthew J. Bruccoli and Arlyn Bruccoli Collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald, which includes books, manuscripts and artifacts such as Fitzgerald’s ledger, flask and briefcase.

Bruccoli’s wife Arlyn also helped establish the collection that bears her father-in-law’s name. The collection has more than 4,000 items, including printed materials of military training manuals, illustrated war-time magazines, postcards, scrapbooks, novels, letters, diaries and poetry. It also contains some 500 pieces of sheet music and more than 175 posters for the U.S., France, Italy and Great Britain, among other countries.

The hardcover illustrated catalogue of the collection compiled by Elizabeth Sudduth, head of Rare Books and Special Collections Processing and Services, runs 374 pages.

Originally Bruccoli established a Joseph M. Bruccoli Collection at the University of Viriginia, but later had a falling out with those handling it. He offered to buy the collection for USC but was turned down. With the encouragement of the late George Terry, then dean of USC Libraries, Bruccoli established another collection at USC and has been enlarging it ever since.

Bruccoli considered what his acquisition rationale would be and concluded: “I could not stick to any plan because I can’t pass up interesting material. This is my firm acquisitions policy for The Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection at the Thomas Cooper Library: Buy anything I want. This rule extends to all fields of book collecting. Get the books.”

While the collection contains official histories and government documents, Bruccoli said that what makes it remarkable is the range of “ephemera” that libraries do not preserve and catalogue.

“Great War ephemera provides evidence of the personal and sentimental responses to the war at home and at the front,” Bruccoli said.

Nor can The Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection “aspire to completeness.” Rather it puts together “a comprehensive sampling of material that provides a sense of what life and war were like during 1914-1918 in America, in Britain, and on the Western Front.”
— Pat Berman
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