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Series III: World War II, 1940-1960 (inclusive), 1943-1946 (bulk)

Call Number: MS 1685, Series III

Scope and Contents

World War II is comprised of six sections, arranged alphabetically: Fifth Army - History of the Italian Campaign; Manuscripts, Fine Arts and Archives; Memorabilia; Notebooks; Photographs; and Wartime Publications. This series provides extensive official, personal, and photographic documentation of Keller's service as a Fine Arts officer attached to the Fifth Army in Italy. Particularly notable are the extensive written and photographic resources on the fate of Italian monuments and artworks during the war, including damage reports, records of restoration efforts, and first-hand accounts of the return of stolen paintings.

Fifth Army - History of the Italian campaign files contain materials for an official history of that campaign which Keller co-wrote with Rock Ferris. Keller was chiefly responsible for writing about the Allied Military Government, an institution set up to maintain order and provide humanitarian aid in newly liberated Italian territory. An incomplete manuscript and draft chapters provide detailed accounts of the activities of the United States Fifth Army and the Allied Military Government in Italy, as do the associated source materials, which include personal statements and official records.

Manuscripts, Fine Arts and Archives (a subdivision of the Allied Military Government) documents both German and Allied interest in the fate of cultural treasures in the midst of war. First-hand accounts of Keller's activities are provided in "Duties of a Fine Arts Officer" and "Sectional History - Fine Arts." Correspondence and Reports extensively document Keller's movements and decisions during his art rescue efforts. There are also numerous official publications intended to aid Fine Arts officers in identifying and protecting monuments and artworks. They include the American Defense-Harvard Group lists of monuments, official policies on preservation and restoration work, and lists of protected artworks and monuments. These latter documents are useful for the researcher interested in tracing a particular city, monument, or art object during the war years.

Keller's notebooks are arranged chronologically, with one folder arranged numerically according to his own labels. They contain extensive, but often illegible, field notes on the status of various monuments and restoration efforts attempted. Notebooks for May-July 1945 include comments on the handling of stolen Florentine art treasures.

The Photographs section is comprised of two sub-sections: Envelopes and Loose. Keller's labels and groupings are maintained in the Envelopes section, while Loose images have been arranged by subject. Taken as a whole, these images constitute a remarkable visual record of the Italian peninsula during the Second World War, from snapshots of citizens, soldiers, and topography, to extensive detailing of the damage and movement of monuments and artworks. The photographs in the Envelopes section were taken primarily by Charles Bernholz, Keller's friend and associate during the war. Bernholz was a trained photographer authorized to document Keller's work as a Fine Arts officer. The prints from Bernholz' negatives were developed in the 1970s. Folder titles are derived from Keller's labels on the developer's envelopes. Because they were created some years after the fact, and applied only to the envelopes and not to specific images, these labels can be somewhat misleading. They offer a rough guide to the content of each folder, but since folders often contain subjects not indicated by the label, additional subject matter has been indicated in brackets wherever possible. The Loose sub-section contains photographs from a variety of sources, including the United States Army, Italian and German photography firms, and a host of unknown photographers.

Wartime publications include materials in English, German, and Italian, such as Army magazines, American and European newspapers, and guidebooks to Italy. Clippings from American newspapers concerning Keller's military career can also be found in Series I. Personal. World War II.


  • 1940-1960 (inclusive), 1943-1946 (bulk)

Conditions Governing Access

From the Collection: The materials are open for research.

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English


Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
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(203) 432-7441 (Fax)


Sterling Memorial Library
Room 147
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511

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