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MS 25


Size: 11.5 linear feet and one large wooden trunk

Span Dates: 1910-1971, undated                                    

Accession Number(s): M2006-0417

Creator: Nelson, George E., 1899-1985

Summary: Collection documents the long military career of Colonel George E. Nelson. It has photographs from the Ohio Military Institute, which Nelson attended from 1910-1914, and unpublished memoirs, certificates, photographs, clothing, and objects from his service in the United States Army and the National Guard from 1917-1945.



Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research access.

Use Restrictions: The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, US Code) governs the reproduction of copyrighted material. The User assumes full responsibility and any attendant liability for the fair use of materials requested in total compliance with the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) that may arise through the use of any requested materials.

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], Box [#], Folder [#], MS-25 Colonel George E. Nelson Collection, Eva G. Farris Special Collections, W. Frank Steely Library, Northern Kentucky University.

Processing Information: Processed by Gina Russ, 2006. Reprocessed by Anne Ryckbost, 2014.



Military education.
Strikes and lockouts--Coal mining--Kentucky.
United States. Army--Military life.
United States. Army--Transportation.
United States. Army--Uniforms.
United States--National Guard.
World War, 1939-1945 Casualties.
World War, 1939-1945 Destruction and pillage—France.
World War, 1914-1918--Personal narratives, American.
World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, American.

Nelson, George E., 1899-1985.
Nelson, Grace.

Geographic Location(s):
Camp Zachary Taylor (Ky.)
Camp Hulen (Tx.)
Southampton (England, United Kingdom)

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This collection consists of unpublished memoirs, certificates, photographs, clothing, and a variety of memorabilia from Colonel George E. Nelson. The collection provides an overview of Colonel Nelson’s military career and offers a glimpse of his life after retirement from the Army.

Series I, Personal Records, contains Nelson’s memoirs describing his military career in great depth. In his 1917-1919 memoir covers the period from his enlistment (1917) to his homecoming from World War I. The 1941-1945 memoir discusses his stateside assignments during World War II and his short stint in Europe (England and France). In both, Nelson describes the military camps he was assigned to in the United States, especially focusing on food, entertainment, and friendships in the camps. He writes about the progression of his military appointments and assignments as well as his impressions of senior officers.  Nelson describes ship transports to England and across the English Channel to France.  He talks about his interactions with local civilians and the physical devastation caused in both wars. His unpublished autobiography briefly notes his employment history from 1917-1976.

The certificates document appointments and accolades Nelson received during his military service as well as his retirement. In addition, there are two non-military certificates: one from his school fraternity (Theta Beta Beta) and one for serving as past president of the Fort Mitchell (Kentucky) Country Club in 1966 and 1967.

The collection includes group photographs with classmates at the Ohio Military Institute and several personal portraits of Nelson. It also has aerial images and panoramic group photographs of Camp Hulen, Texas, where Nelson was assigned in 1941.  The collection includes a Camp Hulen newspaper with a feature article on Nelson.

Series II, Clothing and Objects, contains United States Army uniform clothing, caps, and accessories, including a sweater, hood and gas mask hood from World War I. It has cavalry boots and horse tack equipment from Nelson’s service as a cavalryman in the 123rd Cavalry, Kentucky National Guard, which he founded. It also contains Nelson’s United States Army dog tags, military medals, ribbon bars, insignia patches, traveling trunk, and personal objects such as pipes, lighters, crucifix, and a stamp holder.



Colonel George E. Nelson was born in Covington, Kentucky on January 31, 1899.  He attended the Ohio Military Institute from 1910-1914 in College Hill, a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio and the Staunton Military Academy in Staunton, Virginia in 1914. Nelson’s autobiography states that he graduated from Covington High School in 1916.

On May 1, 1917 Nelson enlisted in the United States Army and was sent was to Camp Zachary Taylor in Louisville. He was part of a group of soldiers sent to maintain order during a miner’s strike in Providence, a small town in western Kentucky in August 1917. He set sail for England in early October 1918, saw action in France, and returned to the United States in December 1918.  Nelson was discharged in 1919.

After his service in World War I, Nelson returned to the Greater Cincinnati region and began work as a salesman at a candy manufacturer and then managed a cement company office. He joined the Kentucky National Guard and organized a horse cavalry group in Covington. He was soon promoted to 1st Lieutenant where he commanded the 2nd Squadron of the 123rd Cavalry as a Major. During his National Guard service, he assisted in some local area disasters such as the Ohio River flood of 1937 and the Harlan County mine strikes of 1940. In 1940 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and commanded the 106th Coast Artillery Battalion of the National Guard. He was stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky; Camp Hulen, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Fort Jackson, South Carolina; and Fort Dupont, Delaware.  During this time, he was reassigned several times and in 1944 he was assigned as an Adjutant General and then promoted to Colonel in the 22nd Corps at Camp Campbell, Kentucky. He left for England in 1944, returning to the same Southampton area from which he embarked for France in 1918. While in France, Nelson came down with pneumonia and was relieved from active duty and sent back to the United States in 1945.

After his discharge from the Army in 1945, he returned to work at the Kosmos Portland Cement Company until he retired in 1964. Nelson then worked in public relations and sales at the H.C. Nutting Company and retired from there in 1976.

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Series 1: Personal Papers




Unpublished memoirs of service in the U.S.
  Army in World War I, 1917-1919

after 1919



Unpublished memoirs of service in the U.S.
  Army in World War II, 1941-1945

after 1945



Unpublished autobiography





1912, 1944-1967

1, see also O/S Box 2- 3


Photographs of Nelson and classmates
  at the Ohio Military Institute


1, see also O/S Box 4



Photographs and portraits of Nelson

1932, undated



Photographs of Nelson and 
  military camps (Camp Hulen, Texas and
  Fort Knox, Kentucky)

1938, undated

O/S Boxes 5-6


The Camp Hulen Searchlight, v. II, no. 10,
  newspaper from Camp Hulen, Texas

April 4, 1941

1, see also O/S Special Collections Newspapers Box 1





Series 2: Clothing and Objects




Sweater and Hood

After 1917

O/S Box 7



After 1917

O/S Box 8



After 1917

O/S Box 9


Metal shoe inserts and wooden shoe stand

After 1917

O/S Box 10


Military cap

After 1917

O/S Box 11


Military cap

After 1917

O/S Box 12


Gas mask

After 1917

O/S Box 13


Name plate, stencil, ribbon bars

After 1917

O/S Box 14


Military badges and pins

After 1917

O/S Box 15A


Uniform buttons

After 1917

O/S Box 15B


Spoon and pick; Dog tags

After 1917

O/S Box 15C


Wooden key and keychain


O/S Box 15D


Ribbon bars and medals

After 1917

O/S Box 15E


Cigarette lighters


O/S Box 15F


Framed insignia patch

After 1917

O/S Box 15G


Crucifix, stamp holder, and pipe


O/S Box 15H


Horse track equipment

After 1917

O/S Box 16


Wooden traveling trunk