ALICE | InfoTree | FAQ | home
im | chat | phone | e-mail | appointment
Digital Exhibits
Local Government Records
Manuscript Collections
Rare Book Collections
Reading Room Procedures
Staff Directory
University Archives
Useful Links

Cornelius Ryan Collection of World War II Papers

Overview | Biography | Scope and Content
Organization | Related Materials | Administrative Information
Container List | Digital Exhibit (PDF files)


Creator: Cornelius J. Ryan
Title: Cornelius Ryan Collection of World War II Papers
Date: 1920-1974, with Book and Document Supplements

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
Location: Vault
Return to Top


War correspondent, journalist, editor, and author, Cornelius Ryan was born in Dublin, Ireland on June 5, 1920. He was educated in Dublin by the Christian Brothers and studied violin at the Irish Academy of Music. At the age of twenty, he entered the service of Garfield Weston as secretary and moved to London, England. His ambition was to write, however, and in 1941 he joined the London staff of Reuter's News Agency. In 1943 Ryan joined the staff of the London Daily Telegraph as a war correspondent, covering the US 8th and 9th Air Forces and the air war over Germany. Upon the activation of General George S. Patton, Jr's 3rd Army, Ryan joined that force and covered its activities until the end of the war in Europe. He then transferred to the Pacific Theater and subsequently opened the Daily Telegraph's Japan bureau. In 1946 he was transferred to Jerusalem as the Telegraph's Middle East bureau chief, writing at the same time as a stringer for Time and the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

In 1947, Ryan was offered a job as contributing editor for Time and emigrated to the United States. He left Time in 1949, served briefly with Newsweek, and joined the Collier's staff as an associate editor in 1950. During that same year he also married Kathryn Morgan and became a naturalized citizen of the United states. During Ryan's association with Collier's, he achieved international recognition for his journalistic reporting of the United States space program and introduced Wernher von Braun to the American public. In 1956, two of his articles, "One Minute to Ditch" and "Five Desperate Hours in Cabin 56" gained him three national awards for distinguished magazine writing: the Benjamin Franklin award, the Overseas Press Club award, and the University of Illinois award.

Following Collier's demise in 1956, he began serious research and writing on The Longest Day. When it was published in 1959, it was an instant success and gained him international repute. He was awarded the Christopher Award for the best book on foreign affairs in 1959 and the Bancarella Prize (Italy) in 1962. He joined the staff of Reader's Digest immediately following the publication of The Longest Day, continuing his career in journalism while beginning research on his second World War II battle book, The Last Battle, which was published in 1965.

He was diagnosed with cancer in 1970 and he began a program of chemotherapy. Meanwhile, he continued his research and writing on the third of his battle books, A Bridge Too Far. In July of 1973 he was awarded the French Legion of Honor in recognition of his contributions to the fields of journalism and historical writing. The following year A Bridge Too Far was published and he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Literature degree from Ohio University. During the publicity tour for his latest book he re-entered the hospital and died of cancer on November 23, 1974. The notes and tapes he made during his bout with cancer were compiled and edited along with his wife's diaries and published in 1976 as A Private Battle.

Return to Top


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.

Return to Top


These records are organized in the following sections:

The Longest Day
(Click here for Container List of The Longest Day)

The Last Battle
(Container List of The Last Battle)

A Bridge Too Far
(Container List of A Bridge Too Far)

Miscellaneous Supplementary Material
Letters and Correspondence - Personal Research
Letters and Correspondence - Topical
Letters and Correspondence - Business
Letters and Correspondence - Fan Mail
Printed Matter with Relevant Correspondence
Manuscripts - Speeches
Diaries - Date Books

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


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

Return to Top


Other books and articles by Ryan include:

  • The Star-Spangled Mikado (with Frank Kelley, 1947)
  • MacArthur: Man of Action (with Frank Kelley, 1950)
  • Across the Space Frontier (with Dr. Werhner von Braun, 1952)
  • Conquest of the Moon (with Dr. Wernher von Braun, 1953)
  • One Minute to Ditch (1957)
  • "Beautiful Murder," in Life, 2 June 1947
  • "The Women Behind MacArthur," Collier's, 23 September 1950
  • "Ireland Today: From Great Famine to Great Future," Collier's, 17 March 1951
  • "Operation Eggnog: Preview of the War We Do Not Want," Collier's, 27 October 1951
  • "Man Will Conquer Space Soon," Collier's, 22 March 1952
  • "Man on the Moon: The Journey," Collier's, 18 October 1952
  • "Man on the Moon: The Exploration," Collier's, 25 October 1952
  • "Man's Survival in Space: Emergency!" Collier's, 14 March 1953
  • "The Baby Space Station," Collier's 27 June 1953
  • "Midget Subs: The Navy's New Sneak Weapon," Collier's, 21 August 1953
  • "G-Gas, A New Weapon of Chilling Terror - We Have It - So Do the Russians," Collier's, 27 November 1953
  • "These Fighters Take Off Straight Up," Collier's 2 April 1954
  • "Is There Life on Mars? Can We Get to Mars?" Collier's, 30 April 1953
  • "Stereatronics: A New Science That Will Change Your Way of Life," Collier's, 3 September 1954
  • "I Rode the World's Fastest Sub," Collier's, 1 April 1955
  • "The Navy Comes Up with a Real 'Flying Saucer'," Collier's, 29 April 1955
  • "From Plebe to President," Collier's, 10 June 1955
  • "NATO's Navy," Collier's, 20 January 1956
  • "What Made Vuky Race?" Collier's, 25 May 1956
  • "The Major of St. Lo," Collier's, 6 June 1956
  • "The Andrea Doria's Untold Story: Five Desperate Hours in Cabin 56," Collier's, 26 September 1956
  • "One Minute to Ditch," Collier's, 21 December 1956
  • "Queen of the Seas," Saturday Evening Post, 14 September 1957
  • "Air Age Bargin Mart," Reader's Digest, 1957
  • "More of The Longest Day," Reader's Digest, 6 June 1965
Return to Top


Restrictions: This collection is open to use under the rules and regulations of the Ohio University Libraries.
Preferred Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection name, collection number, and the Ohio University Libraries in all footnote and bibliographic references.
Accession Number: MSS#20
Provenance: The Ohio University Libraries received the Collection through Kathryn Morgan Ryan in 1981.
Property Rights: The Ohio University Libraries owns the property rights to this collection.
Copyrights: Geoffrey Ryan and Victoria Ryan Bida retain the literary rights they may possess in the materials. Consideration of such rights and any other rights owned by others is the responsibility of the researcher and publisher.
Photo Duplication: Ohio University Libraries will entertain requests to photocopy reasonable amounts of material from the collection for the convenience of individual researchers.
Processing: The Collection was received in 1981 and processed by Richard Coleman over the next two years. A Supplement was received in 1984 and processed by Ann Calvin. Materials relating to the Collection have been received since that time and have been processed by Doug McCabe.
Return to Top
OHIO University Libraries
Athens, OH 45701-2978
Phone: (740) 593-2699
Last updated:
This page is maintained by Doug McCabe.
Please use our Feedback Form for your questions, comments, and suggestions about the Libraries' services and resources.
OHIO University © 2009 All Rights Reserved