U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center


U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center

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The center aims to preserve and interpret the heritage of the U.S. Army. It acquires, preserves, and makes publicly available Army-related library and archival materials. It also provides interpretive exhibits and educational outreach programs to "foster a greater understanding of the Army's central role in the growth, development and protection of the nation and its way of life" [http://www.armyheritage.org/usahec/] . Its motto is "Telling the Army story, one soldier at a time."

The Current Campus

As of 2006, the Army Heritage and Education Center has two major buildings on its Carlisle campus, Ridgway Hall and a museum storage facility.

Ridgway Hall opened to the public in 2004. Home of the Military History Institute, the convert|66000|sqft|m2|sing=on hall holds over 11 million items (books, periodicals, manuscripts, photographs, military publications) on U.S. Army history, including the largest American Civil War photograph collection in the world. Along with a reading room for researchers, the hall also has several small exhibits that display artifacts and photographs from AHEC holdings.

Staff in Ridgway Hall--including staff for the yet-to-be built Visitor and Education Center and U.S. Army Conservation Center--oversee the acquisition and conservation of all AHEC holdings, the cataloging of books and other items, the processing of archival collections, the transcription of oral histories, the writing of research bibliographies and other finding aids, and patron and visitor service.

The hall is open to the public on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., except federal holidays. The hall also hosts occasional public lectures and book readings in the evenings.

The convert|8000|sqft|m2|sing=on museum storage facility holds most of the Army Heritage Museum's artifacts and curatorial work space. It is not open to the public.

. The trail is open to the public year-round during daylight hours.

The trail hosts a few large living history events during the year. Re-enactors also spend time on the trail on most weekends.

History

The U.S. Army Military History Institute pre-dates the Army Heritage and Education Center by over 30 years. Formed in 1967 as the Military History Research Collection, a branch of the U.S. Army War College Library, the institute became the primary repository for unofficial army historical materials. (Official U.S. Army records and other materials belong to the National Archives.) For most of its existence, the institute was housed in Upton Hall on Carlisle Barracks. Built in 1941 as an academic building for the Medical Field Service School, Upton Hall was adequate as a library but ill-suited for the size and preservation needs of a major archive.

Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera formed the Army Heritage and Education Center in June 1999 as a means of bringing an army museum to Carlisle and promoting the holdings of the institute. His successor Thomas E. White approved the construction of a new facility, the present-day Ridgway Hall, in 2001. He stated:

"We will relocate its [the institute's] documents and holdings--the unofficial history of the United States Army--into a newly built state-of-the art archive, give that facility responsibility for administering historical documents and photographs Army wide, and associate it with an educational facility and a museum" [http://www.carlisle.army.mil/ahec/AHEC_history.htm] .

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The Army Heritage Museum, formed with the center in 1999, held its artifacts mostly in storage in various places on Carlisle Barracks before the construction of its storage facility beside Ridgway Hall in 2004. Most artifacts are now relocated there in anticipation of future indoor exhibit space in a yet-to-be built visitor center and museum.

By 2005, the center created the Army Heritage Trail and began placing historical markers and large artifacts such as tanks and field artillery on it for public view. The first permanent structures, the Civil War cabins, officially opened in October of that year.

Future plans

Along with further expansion of the Army Heritage Trail, the Army Heritage and Education Center plans three additional buildings for the near future.

The Visitor and Education Center, expected to open in 2008, will serve as the entrance point of all visitors to AHEC campus. It is expected to have a lecture hall, cafe, museum shop, and other facilities for hosting large groups--such as from veterans associations and schools--and providing educational programming.

The U.S. Army Conservation Center, slated to open in 2009, will improve paper and object conservation of AHEC collections by providing facilities for conservation and analytical laboratories, artifact storage, conservation science research, and public educational opportunities. The building will not be generally open to the public.

The convert|50000|sqft|m2|sing=on Army Heritage Museum is scheduled to open to the public in 2011. Museum staff will use the facility to exhibit its many artifacts relating to the service of individual soldiers in the U.S. Army.

Affiliated organizations

The Army Heritage and Education Center is supported by a private foundation, the Army Heritage Center Foundation, which helps the center with development and educational efforts. It oversees fundraising for the construction of the Visitor and Education Center and the Army Heritage Museum.

The center is a component of the National Museum of the United States Army, based in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The National Museum of the United States Army will open a national U.S. Army museum in 2013 along the Potomac River in northern Virginia. The Army Heritage and Education Center supports that museum with its own research and exhibit facilities.

Both as an army museum and as a military history research facility, the center is subordinate to the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Fort McNair, Washington, D.C., which is "responsible for the appropriate use of history throughout the U.S. Army" [http://www.army.mil/cmh/CMH/Overview.htm] .

External links

* [http://www.usahec.org U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center official site]
* [http://www.ahco.army.mil U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center research catalogs]
* [http://www.armyheritage.org U.S. Army Heritage Center Foundation]
* [http://www.carlisle.army.mil U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks]
* [http://www.armyhistory.org National Museum of the United States Army]
* [http://www.army.mil/cmh U.S. Army Center of Military History]
*"What is AHEC?" See the [http://www4.army.mil/news/standto.php?dte=2007-02-07 "Today's Focus"] section of U.S. Army online publication [http://www4.army.mil/news/standto.html "Stand-To!"] , dated February 7, 2007.
*The [http://www.cumberlink.com Carlisle "Sentinel"] described the center in a 2005 [http://www.cumberlink.com/welcome/fall_2005/ahec.php article] .
*The Army Heritage Museum sends traveling exhibits to museums, colleges, and conventions. "Designing for Victory 1914-1945" was one such exhibit, described [http://www.dickinson.edu/news/nrshow.cfm?772 here] from its exhibition at [http://www.dickinson.edu Dickinson College] in 2005-06.


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