Cornelius Ryan Collection of World War II Papers – OHIO University Libraries
Cornelius Ryan at his desk. Photo and copyright by Eugene Cook.
Cornelius Ryan at his desk. Photo and copyright by Eugene Cook.



Creator: Cornelius J. Ryan
Title: Cornelius Ryan Collection of World War II Papers
Date: 1920-1974, with Book and Document Supplements
Abstract: Correspondence, documents, photographs, diaries, accounts, manuscripts, audio tapes, interviews, journal articles, screenplays, scrapbooks, memorabilia, and books detailing Ryan’s career as a journalist and author of the books The Longest Day, The Last Battle, and A Bridge Too Far.
Quantity: 110 cu ft



The Ryan Collection primarily consists of material relating to World War II, the European Theater of Operations, in the form of his research papers and files for his three battle books: The Longest Day (Operation OVERLORD, Normandy, France, June 6, 1944); A Bridge Too Far (Operation MARKET-GARDEN, Holland, September 17-26, 1944); and, The Last Battle (the capture of Berlin, Germany, April 15-May 10, 1945). There are personal files for 3,072 individuals, both military and civilian participants of the battles, covering all nationalities. The files contain 2,551 questionnaires, 955 interviews, and numerous letters, diaries, accounts, and observations. In addition, there are 166 audio recordings of interviews. Of particular note among the interviews are those with Prince Bernhard of The Netherlands, President Eisenhower, and General Simpson, all from 1963.

In addition to the personal files there are numerous newspaper and magazine articles and book excerpts dealing with the battles. Ryan also collected military documents of all types: combat interviews and after action reports, war diaries, message files and logs, strategic and tactical analyses, maps, and unit histories from all national forces involved. Of particular note among the military documents are war diaries and message logs of the major German commands from all three battles and accounts, interrogations and unit histories from the Moscow Archives concerning the storming of Berlin. The bulk of the German documents had not been consulted by any researcher prior to Ryan and, in the case of the Russian documents, no one else had ever been allowed access to the Moscow Archives.

There are in excess of 1,900 original photographs in the files, collected from various national archives and private individuals, the vast majority of which are unpublished.

The remainder of the Ryan Collection deals with his journalistic productions. The research files for his two articles “One Minute to Ditch” and “Five Desperate Hours in Cabin 56” are complete, containing interviews, photographs, and official documents. Also of special note among these files are a collection of interviews with President Eisenhower’s West Point classmates (class of 1915) and correspondence and original material on the early American space program from Dr. Werhner von Braun.


These records are organized in the following sections:

The Longest Day Inventory List

The Last Battle Inventory List

Bridge Too Far Inventory List

Miscellaneous Supplementary Material Container List

Other Materials:

  • Material in Book Files of Special Note
  • Books and Book Excerpts
  • Journal and Periodical Articles
  • Military Documents, Reports, and Publications
  • Pamphlets, Brochures, Titled Accounts, Speeches, etc.
  • Audio Recordings
  • Screenplays, Radio Broadcasts Scripts, Film
  • Other Manuscript Materials
  • Armageddon
  • Unlabeled Manuscript
  • Journalistic Materials
  • Discoverer XVIII
  • Apollo 11 and Apollo 12
  • Communications Satellites
  • Photographs and Artwork
  • Miscellaneous Notebooks
  • Miscellaneous Audio Recordings
  • Travel Guides and Books
  • Photographs and Memorabilia
  • Reference Library


Other books and articles by Ryan include: