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Seal of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center

The United States Army Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC), in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is the U.S. Army's primary historical research facility. Formed in 1999 and reorganized in 2013, the center consists of the U.S. Army Military History Institute (USAMHI), the Army Heritage Museum (AHM), the Digital Archives Division, the Historical Services Division, the Research and Education Services, and the USAHEC Staff. The U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center is part of the United States Army War College, but has its own 56-acre (230,000 m2) campus in Middlesex Township nearby Carlisle Barracks.

The U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center's mission is to make historical materials available for use to support the U.S. Army, educate an international audience, and honor Soldiers - past and present. The USAHEC team strives to:

Acquire: Purchase or accept donations of historical materials to fill collection gaps or improve holdings with items of exceptional U.S. Army and/or Soldier story value.

Hold: Account for and preserve historical materials by ensuring they are available for generations to come.

Exhibit: Display historical material to support research, communicate our holdings, and educate on site and virtual visitors.

Conserve: Care for historical materials, including preservation techniques, to protect them from threats, prevent decay, and ensure long term availability.

Produce: Use our collections to prepare information that aids understanding and decision-making, while making collections known to the widest possible audience.

The current research collection contains military history books, military newspapers, technical and field manuals, periodicals, veteran’s surveys, photographs, and transcribes oral histories. The collections include material from as early as the French and Indian War to current U.S. Army operations. The USAHEC also provides interpretive exhibits and educational outreach programs to foster a greater understanding of the Army's central role in the growth, development and protection of the nation and its way of life. The USAHEC motto is "Telling the Army story, one Soldier at a time."[1]

The current campus[edit]

The Visitor and Education Center and Ridgway Hall on the campus of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

As of 2013, the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center consists of three primary working buildings: the Visitor and Education Center, Ridgway Hall, and the Conservation Facility. The campus also includes a one mile (1.6 km) outdoor Army Heritage Trail. The Trail consists of macro-exhibits showcasing various periods of the U. S. Army’s history.

Ridgway Hall[edit]

Named after Army Chief of Staff General Matthew B. Ridgway (1895–1993), commander of the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II and of United Nations forces in the Korean War, Ridgway Hall opened to the public in 2004. Home of the Military History Institute, the 66,000-square-foot (6,100 m2) hall holds over 15 million items (books, periodicals, manuscripts, photographs, military publications) on U.S. Army history, covering the pre-French and Indian War era to current operations. The collections also include one of the largest American Civil War photograph collection in the world. The research facility is open to the public during normal operating hours, and enjoys use by scholars, students, genealogists, and researchers of all kinds.

Along with a reading room for researchers, the hall also has several small exhibits that display artifacts and photographs from USAHEC holdings. Currently, the Ridgway Hall exhibits includes a room covering the life and career of General of the Army Omar Nelson Bradley, the U.S. Army’s last five-star general[2] and an exhibit showcasing the USAHEC American Civil War photograph collection. The Civil War photography exhibit highlights the experiences of two Civil War Union Soldiers, Abial Edwards and John Cheney. Using their personal correspondence written during the war, the display pairs their letters with photos from the USAHEC collection to bring to life their first-hand accounts of this tumultuous time in American history.[3]

Staff in Ridgway Hall oversee the cataloging of books and other items, the processing of archival collections, the transcription of oral histories, the writing of research bibliographies and other finding aids, and patron and visitor services.

Visitor and Education Center[edit]

The Visitor and Education Center opened in May 2011 to the general public. It serves as the welcome and orientation site for visitors to the facility. The building includes a 7,000-square-foot (650 m2) museum exhibit space, currently featuring "The Soldier Experience,", a gift shop, and two large multipurpose rooms for conferences and lectures.

"The Soldier Experience" is located in the Visitor and Education Center (VEC) of the USAHEC campus and is open during normal business hours. When exploring the gallery, visitors experience the U. S. Army through the eyes of the men and women who lived its history, in war and peace, from the Spanish–American War to current operations in Afghanistan. Visitors can stop at the Information Desk to pick up a “dog tag” representing one of six Soldiers whose story is part of the USAHEC collections. Guests use the dog tag to experience Army life as a Soldier does, learning about their Soldier throughout the gallery. The exhibit also features hundreds of artifacts, oral history recordings accessible from your smart phone, a movie theater, and the opportunity to write a letter to a currently serving Soldier. In addition, guests may test their marksmanship at the digital shooting range, parachute in to Normandy as part of the D-Day invasion, and experience a night attack during the Korean War.[4]

Conservation Facility and Collections Management[edit]

The 35,000-square-foot (3,300 m2) museum conservation facility holds the Army Heritage Museum's artifacts and serves as the curatorial work space. The Conservation Facility is not open to the public. The building provides state of the art climate controlled storage and contains objects, paper, analytical, and digital laboratories. The staff of the Collections Management team facilitate the development and preservation of the USAHEC collection by acquiring, conserving, and administering historical materials. The team is responsible for the growth and maintenance of the collection to ensure they are relevant and available for usage. The acquisitions section constantly adds new items to the collection through the donation of historical materials. The USAHEC purchases the newest publications and books to add to its extensive library collections.[5]

Army Heritage Trail[edit]

Re-enactors fire from an American Revolutionary War redoubt on the Army Heritage Trail. It is a replica of Redoubt 10, a British redoubt seized by Continental Army troops at the Siege of Yorktown on October 14, 1781.

The Army Heritage Trail, a one-mile (1.6 km) walking path of outdoor exhibits and markers on various eras in U.S. Army history. Notable exhibits include:

The Army Heritage Trail is open for visitation dawn to dusk daily. The buildings and structures on the trail are only open when the USAHEC buildings are open.

Events and Programs[edit]

The USAHEC hosts many types of history events, including lectures, large and small living history events, workshops, education programs, and more.[6] In past years, the USAHEC has hosted Army Heritage Days in recognition of Armed Forces Day in the United States. The event features re-enactors from all eras of U.S. Army history occupying the Army Heritage Trail. Other events have had many different military history themes; in 2009 and 2010 a late-summer event included 18th and 19th century U.S. Army history concentrating on the American Revolution. In 2011, the theme was the sesquicentennial of the first winter of the American Civil War. At both events, various exhibits and demonstrations were held to allow the public to interact with the living historians.

History of the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center and the U.S. Army Military History Institute[edit]

The U.S. Army Military History Institute pre-dates the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center by over 30 years. Formed in 1967 as the Military History Research Collection, a branch of the U.S. Army War College Library, the institute became the primary repository for unofficial Army historical materials. Official U.S. Army records and other materials belong to the National Archives.[7] For most of its existence, the institute was housed in Upton Hall on Carlisle Barracks. Built in 1941 as an academic building for the Medical Field Service School, Upton Hall was adequate as a library but ill-suited for the size and preservation needs of a major archive.

Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera formed the Army Heritage and Education Center in June 1999 as a means of bringing an Army museum to Carlisle and promoting the holdings of the institute. His successor Thomas E. White approved the construction of a new facility, the present-day Ridgway Hall, in 2001. He stated:

"We will relocate its [the institute's] documents and holdings—the unofficial history of the United States Army—into a newly built state-of-the art archive, give that facility responsibility for administering historical documents and photographs Army wide, and associate it with an educational facility and a museum".[8]

The U.S. Army Military History Institute resided in Upton Hall, on Carlisle Barracks, from 1967 to 2004.

The center, including the holdings of the institute, relocated from Upton Hall to Ridgway Hall in 2004, officially opening on September 24. The Army named the building for former Army Chief of Staff General Matthew B. Ridgway (1895–1993), commander of the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II and of United Nations forces in the Korean War.

The Army Heritage Museum, formed with the center in 1999, held its artifacts mostly in storage in various places on Carlisle Barracks before the construction of its Interim Storage Facility beside Ridgway Hall in 2004.

By 2005, the center created the Army Heritage Trail and began placing historical markers and large artifacts such as tanks and field artillery on display for public view. The first permanent structures, the Civil War cabins, officially opened in October of that year. The Trail continued to grow and evolve over time, and continues to expand today.

In 2009, the USAHEC broke ground for the Visitor and Education Center as plans for the growth of the campus continued. In May 2011, the Center opened to the public and serves as the welcome and orientation site for all visitors to the campus. The building features a 7,000-square-foot (650 m2) exhibit space and two multipurpose rooms for conferences and other presentations. Later in the year, the USAHEC opened the state-of-the-art Conservation Facility to house and preserve the U.S. Army's artifact collection.

Plans[edit]

An original model of the plans for the USAHEC's Visitor and Education Center.

Along with further expansion of the Army Heritage Trail, the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center plans two additional buildings in coming years. Plans include the construction of the 50,000-square-foot (4,600 m2) Army Heritage Center Facility. Museum staff will use the facility to exhibit The USAHEC's many artifacts relating to the service of individual Soldiers in the U.S. Army.

Affiliated organizations[edit]

The U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center is supported by a private non-profit foundation, the Army Heritage Center Foundation, which helps the center with development and educational efforts. It oversaw fundraising for the construction of the Visitor and Education Center and is raising funds for the Army Heritage Center Facility.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°12′27″N 77°09′36″W / 40.2075°N 77.1600°W / 40.2075; -77.1600



Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Army_Heritage_and_Education_Center — Please support Wikipedia.
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