The Marshall Papers Project

papers1In the fall of 1977 the George C. Marshall Foundation newsletter, Topics, reported that Director, Fred Hadsell, had secured support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to undertake a major documentary editing project; the Papers of George Catlett Marshall would complement the magisterial four-volume biography written by Forrest Pogue. The initial project scope was thought to be ten years and six volumes. Ultimately, the project ran to seven volumes (with sufficient material for an eighth) and eventually spanned nearly 39 years. The team, led by Dr. Larry Bland until his untimely death in 2007, had many members of note. The final two volumes, written after Larry’s death, were finished by noted Marshall Biographer Dr. Mark Stoler and the project managed by Dan Holt, former Director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library.

On Thursday 23rd June 2016, the Marshall Foundation, in the Marshall Library in Lexington, marked the completion of this monumental undertaking. The editorial team, those associated with the project over the years, sponsors and other supporters gathered to toast their achievements.

The completion of this project is a truly substantial undertaking and one for which the scholarly community and, indeed, the wider world is appropriately grateful.

papers2The world in which we live, in which we celebrate this achievement, is a world very different from Marshall’s world and different too even from when this project began.

These works, these documents, however, transcend time and instantiate for all time the record of Marshall’s life and Marshall’s legacy. These seven Volumes ensure that the past will be known and that the past might inform the present and guide the future. The question I hear most often when I speak, on behalf of the foundation about Marshall is: Where is our Marshall today?

I have no good answer to that question.

If however the question is where can inspiration and example be found so that those leaders might emerge, then the the answer is clearer. Here at the Marshall Foundation on the post at Virginia Military Institute, Marshall’s alma mater; here is the detail and substance of what he did; how he did it and, perhaps most significantly, who he was.

Marshall can be found within these walls, in the Pogue biography and interviews; in our museum and publications and the new programs of the Marshall Legacy Series and, most fully and completely, here in the Papers of George Catlett Marshall.