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University of Louisville WWII Archives

For anyone looking for information on the World War II years in Louisville, a great place to start is Special Collections at the University of Louisville’s Ekstrom Library, including its Photo Archives and Rare Book divisions, which houses photos, documents, and one-of-a-kind posters from the era. U of L history professor Bruce Tyler relied on those resources, along with private sources and the U.S. military, for his book Louisville in World War II (available from Arcadia Publishing).

Tyler is originally from Los Angeles, where his mother sparked an interest in history early on with her stories about her family and friends. She and Tyler’s father were both born in the South and worked on plantations as children. Then they both left the South: his father in the late 1930s, and his mother, like many others, during World War II. Tyler grew up hearing about how his mom had stayed in the YMCA during the war and listening to war stories from his stepfather and his buddies, all WWII veterans. So the war represented a family starting point that took them to new lives and new places.

In June 1983, Tyler graduated from UCLA with a Ph.D. in history. His books Black Leaders in Los Angeles: Celes King III (UCLA Oral History Program Publication, 1988) and From Harlem to Hollywood: The Struggle for Racial and Cultural Democracy, 1920-1943 (Garland Publishing, 1992), as well as several published articles, all dealt with the World War II years.

After moving to Louisville in 1985, Tyler started working in the field of local World War II history when the proximity of Fort Knox and Bowman Field attracted his attention. Today, he frequently speaks on the subject to local history associations, the Oldham County History Center and Society, the Kentucky Genealogical Society, and groups of war veterans.

Louisville in World War II is the first book-length story and pictorial history of the war years in the Derby City. Tyler hopes it will inspire others to tell their stories and save their documents and pictures of those years ... and to contact him to share and preserve their memories and histories.

Program 204
In Louisville Life's war special: remembrances of three local WWII veterans, a rare look at life on the home front, a visit to the Patton Museum, and the story behind Kentucky's Medal of Honor Memorial. Plus, learn how a unique collection of local war letters are being preserved for generations.

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