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Gordon W. Prange papers

 Collection 0193-MDHC
Dr. Gordon W. Prange (July 16, 1910 - May 15, 1980) was an historian and history professor at the University of Maryland from 1937 until his death in 1980. While teaching at the University of Maryland, Prange published many books and articles on a variety of historical topics, but he is probably best known for his research on the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces during World War II. Prange conducted interviews and collected accounts from diaries, articles, and correspondence with many of the key participants in the battle, both Japanese and American, as well as completed extensive research on the causes, planning, build-up to, and execution and consequences of the attack. Prange's Pearl Harbor research was published posthumously in three volumes: At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor (1981), Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History (1986), and December 7, 1941: The Day the Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor (1988). The Gordon W. Prange Papers cover the period from 1866 to 2002, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1936 to 1980. The collection consists of both personal and professional papers and includes unpublished manuscripts, correspondence, interview notes and transcripts, research notes, articles, maps, and photographs related to Prange’s research on the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Midway, the Russian spy Richard Sorge, and the speeches of Adolf Hitler. There are also materials related to Prange's tenure as a history professor at the University of Maryland and Prange's service as an historian for the US Army under General Douglas MacArthur during the Allied occupation of Japan.

Dates

  • 1866-2002
  • Majority of material found within 1936-1980

Use and Access to Collection

Some files in this collection are restricted. Please refer to individual folder headings or contact Special Collections for more information.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.

Extent

83.25 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Gordon W. Prange papers cover the period from 1866 to 2002; the bulk of the materials date from 1936 to 1981. The collection consists of both personal and professional papers including unpublished manuscripts, correspondence, interview notes and transcripts, research notes, articles, maps, and photographs related to Prange's research on the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Battle of Midway, the Russian spy Richard Sorge, and the speeches of Adolf Hitler. Prange's tenure as a history professor at the University of Maryland; and Prange's service as an historian for the US Army under General Douglas MacArthur during the Allied occupation of Japan are also covered.

Biography

Dr. Gordon William Prange (July 16, 1910 - May 15, 1980) was born and grew up in Pomery, Iowa. Prange graduated high school in 1928 and turned a high school track and field career into a scholarship to the University of Iowa where he also played baseball. After graduating with a B.A. in History in 1932, he turned down a contract offer by the Chicago Cubs to continue to study history at Iowa. Prange received his M.A. in History in 1934 and Ph.D. in European History in 1937, both from Iowa. During his doctoral work, Prange was a foreign exchange student at the University of Berlin and University of Vienna from 1935 to 1937.

Prange married Anne Davidson Root in June 1937 and began teaching in the University of Maryland History Department that fall. After publishing a few articles about German National Socialism (Nazism) and his own experiences in Germany, Prange's first book, Hitler’s Words: Two Decades of National Socialism, 1923-1943, was published in 1944. Prange joined the US Navy in 1942, taking leave from the University of Maryland, and after completing classes at the Navy School of Military Government at Columbia University, Prange taught courses in Japanese administrative policy for the Navy at Princeton University. The Pranges' first child, Winfred, was born in 1944. Following the war in 1946, Prange was assigned to the G-2 Historical Division, General Headquarters, Far East Command in Tokyo, under General Douglas MacArthur, as a civilian historian where he eventually became the division director. The Pranges' second child, Nancy, was born while the family lived in Tokyo. While in Japan, Prange began his research on the Japanese perspective of the Pearl Harbor attack, conducting interviews with many former Japanese navy and army officers. He also secured for the University of Maryland, in competition with several other institutions including Stanford University, the records of the Civil Censorship Detachment (CCD) of the Allied Occupation. This collection was named the Gordon W. Prange Collection in his honor in 1978.

By the time Prange returned to the University of Maryland in 1951, a third child, Polly, was born and the family moved into a home in nearby University Park. Prange continued to expand his research, working on three major research projects on the attack on Pearl Harbor, the battle of Midway, and the Russian spy, Richard Sorge. Book condensations of all three of these projects were published in Reader’s Digest in the 1960s and 1970s. His Japanese-language book, Tora! Tora! Tora!, was published in 1966 and was later turned into a movie by the Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, a project for which Prange served as a history advisor. Prange taught at the University of Maryland until shortly before his death and is still remembered by colleagues and former students as a dynamic teacher who was able to inspire and engage the students in his European History classes. Prange worked steadily on his Pearl Harbor research during his entire teaching career and had two volumes of what was to be a four-volume work in proofs when he died in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1980. Following his death, two of Prange's former graduate students, Dr. Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon, worked with McGraw-Hill editors to posthumously publish Prange's manuscripts.

Arrangement

The Gordon W. Prange papers are organized as ten series:
Series 1
Gordon W. Prange: Biographical Information and Personal Papers
Series 2
World War II Germany: Hitler's Words and "Hitler's Speeches and the United States"
Series 3
University of Maryland
Series 4
G-2 Historical Division: MacArthur, the Korean War, and the Occupation of Japan
Series 5
The Attack on Pearl Harbor: Tora! Tora! Tora!
Series 6
Richard Sorge: Forever a Stranger and "Master Spy"
Series 7
The Battle of Midway: "Miracle at Midway"
Series 8
Prange Enterprise
Series 9
Photographs
Series 10
Maps and Charts

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The bulk of the collection was donated to the University of Maryland Special Collections in October 2001 by Polly Prange, Gordon Prange's daughter. Two further accession were donated in August 2007 and February 2008 by Prange's son, Winfred Prange. Facsimiles of Prange materials currently housed at the University of Pittsburgh were added to the collection in August 2008.

Related Material

The Gordon W. Prange Collection, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.
  1. The Prange Collection is a comprehensive archives of published materials from the occupation of Japan following World War II. These materials are the record of the censorship activites of the allied occupation as conducted by the Civil Censorship Detachment (CCD) and were acquired for the University of Maryland with the help of Gordon W. Prange through his connections in the G-2 Historical Division. The collection was named for him on September 15, 1978.
The Donald M. Goldstein Collection, 1886-2005, UA.90.F78, University of Pittsburgh Archives.
  1. Donald M. Goldstein was a research assistant of Dr. Prange's and helped ensure the posthumous publication of Prange's manuscripts. Materials related to the completion of Prange's books, including correspondence and research notes, from the Goldstein Collection have been photocopied and integrated into this collection, but there may be further related materials available through the University of Pittsburgh. Contact the curator for further details.
Transcripts of Hearings before the Joint Committee on the Investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack are easily available from two sources:
  1. The transcripts of the Pearl Harbor hearings are available on microfilm in the University of Maryland's McKeldin Library [MCK Periodicals Room Microfilm - BIn9r]
  2. They are also available online through archive.org and can be located by completing an author search for "United States. Congress. Joint committee on the investigation of the Pearl Harbor Attack."
Many of Prange's books are available in the University of Maryland Libraries' collections. There are often multiple copies or editions each of each book beyond what is listed in this inventory; please consult the library catalog or the reference desk for help locating these materials. The following is a selection of titles available in the University of Maryland Libraries, arranged in order of original publication:
  1. Prange, Gordon W. Hitler's Speeches and the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1941. America in a World at War, No. 16. [Hornbake: Maryland Stacks - DD251.P7]
  2. Prange, Gordon W., editor. Hitler's Words: Two Decades of National Socialism, 1923-1943. Washington, D.C.: American Council on Public Affairs, 1944. [Hornbake: Maryland Stacks - DD247.H5 A6215]
  3. Prange, Gordon W., Donald M. Goldstein, and Katherine V. Dillon. At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor. 50th Anniversary Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1991. [Hornbake: Archives Reference - D767.92.P72 1991b]
  4. Prange, Gordon W., Donald M. Goldstein, and Katherine V. Dillon. Miracle at Midway. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1982. [Hornbake: Prange Stacks - D774.M5 P7 1982]
  5. Prange, Gordon W., Donald M. Goldstein, and Katherine V. Dillon. Target Tokyo: The Story of the Sorge Spy Ring. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1984. [Hornbake: Prange Stacks - UB271.R92 S63 1984]
  6. Prange, Gordon W., Donald M. Goldstein, and Katherine V. Dillon. Pearl Harbor: The Verdict of History. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1986. [Horbake: Archives Reference - D767.92.P722 1991]
  7. Prange, Gordon W., Donald M. Goldstein, and Katherine V. Dillon. December 7, 1941: The Day the Japanese Attacked Pearl Harbor. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1988. [Hornbake: Prange Stacks - D767.92.P7215 1988]
  8. Prange, Gordon W., Donald M. Goldstein, and Katherine V. Dillon. God's Samurai: Lead Pilot at Pearl Harbor. Washington, D.C.: Brassey's, 1990. [Hornbake: Prange Stacks - D767.92.P7216 1990]
  9. Goldstein, Donald M. and Katherine V. Dillon The Pearl Harbor Papers: Inside the Japanese Plans. Washington, D.C.:Brassey's, 1993. [Hornbake: Archives Reference - D767.92.P397 1993]
Prange & Pearl Harbor: A Magnificent Obsession. A video documentary about Prange and his Pearl Harbor research, produced by Maryland Public Television (MPT), written and directed by Ken Day. [Hornbake Nonprint Media - VHS D767.929P732 2001]

The Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation movie Tora! Tora! Tora! was based in part on the research that Prange conducted for his book of the same name. Prange also served as an historical advisor during the production of the film. [Hornbake Nonprint Media - DVD PN1997.2.T66 2006].

Processing Information

Processing of the Gordon W. Prange papers began in the summer of 2010 and was completed during the summer of 2012. The deteriorating state of the materials necessitated full processing of the collection. Paperclips and staples were removed to prevent or halt damage to the materials from rust and replaced with plastiklips or acid-free paper dividers to preserve the original groupings of the materials. Original folders were replaced with archival quality folders, and any notes on the folders were photocopied and placed in the new folder. Newspaper clippings were photocopied to halt further acid damage to adjacent materials, and the original clippings were discarded. Photographs were sleeved in archival photo sheets and, along with oversize materials, were separated from the collection for more appropriate storage.

The original order of the collection was neither always readily apparent nor conducive to easy researcher access so some changes were made during processing and arrangement. Original folder titles were kept whenever possible, but changes, such as adding full names where the original folder title only indicated a last name or adding a content designator to a folder (e.g. Yamamoto was changed to Yamamoto, Isoroku – Interviews, or Draft was changed to "Tora! Tora! Tora!" – Draft), were made to make titles more descriptive of the folder contents, eliminate ambiguity in names, and facilitate easier access to the collection via the finding aid. For the sake of consistency in naming conventions across the whole collection, all Japanese and other Asian names are listed in the standard Western style (i.e. Surname, Given Name). At the series level, there was no consistent original order to the materials, but the series arrangement of the collection reflects groupings in Prange's original order based on major projects on which Prange worked during his career. For example, the Sorge Series (Series 6) was created by combining two large groupings of research and correspondence regarding the Sorge projects and a few stray folders that were elsewhere in the collection. Within each series the folders are arranged in alphabetical order for ease of access.

A few folders of original correspondence in the Pearl Harbor series were heavily damaged by water and mold. These materials were photocopied and the originals discarded.

Some of the materials in this collection are photocopies of notes, articles, and other research materials that were collected by Prange but are currently housed in the Donald M. Goldstein Papers at the University of Pittsburgh. Goldstein used these materials to finish preparing Prange's manuscripts for publication. These materials are designated in this finding aid as folders bearing the [facsimile] tag after the folder title. Each of these folders has an indication written on its cover detailing where the materials can be located in the Donald M. Goldstein papers.
Title
Guide to the Gordon W. Prange Papers
Status
completed
Author
Processed by David Travis.
Date
2012-08-15
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • 2007-04-15: EAD markup checked and verified using JEdit software by Jennie A. Levine.
  • 2012-08-30: EAD markup checked and verified by Joanne Archer.
  • 2017-08-08: EAD markup checked and verified after ArchivesSpace migration by Emily Flint.
  • 2018-07-05: Finding aid reviewed and minor updates made by Adam Gray.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Library

Contact:
University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742
301-405-9212