Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Lorain H. Cunningham Papers

Dates: 1913-1992

First Lieutenant, 129th Field Artillery, World War I

The papers of Lorain H. Cunningham relate primarily to his activities as an officer in the 129th Field Artillery in World War I and to his involvement with the Battery D Association after 1948. The material includes a diary (1918-1919), memoranda, clippings, correspondence, and an extensive collection of photographs depicting the 129th Field Artillery during World War I and detailing the activities of the Battery D Association, particularly during the 1949 Presidential inauguration ceremonies and at a dinner honoring President Truman in November 1952. The collection also contains additional information on Cunningham's life and career, and material concerning the death and funeral of President Truman in December 1972.

See also Lorain Cunningham oral history interview

[Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List]


ADMINISTRATIVE INFORMATION

Size: Less than one-half of one linear foot (about 800 pages).
Access: Open
Copyright: Lorain H. Cunningham and Gordon R. Cunningham have donated their copyright interest in any unpublished materials in this collection to the government of the United States. Documents prepared by government employees as part of their official duties are in the public domain. Copyright interest in documents which do not fall into these two categories is presumed to remain with the writers of the documents, or their heirs.
Processed by: Niel M. Johnson (1992); Randy Sowell (2003).


[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

1895 (March 10) Born, Pleasanton, Kansas
1913 Graduated from Cherokee County High School, Columbus, Kansas
1914-1916 Student at Kansas School of Mines
1917 (May) Entered the officers training program at Fort Riley, Kansas, and became a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army
1917 (August) Began infantry training at Camp Cody, New Mexico
1917 (October) Transferred to the 129th Field Artillery at Camp Doniphan (Fort Sill), Oklahoma
1918 (June 6) Arrived in France with the 129th Field Artillery
1918 (August 28) Assigned to the 301st Field Artillery as instructor on 75mm guns
1918 (September) Promoted to First Lieutenant
1919 (April) Returned to the United States on the S.S. Zeppelin
1919 (May) Discharged from the Army at Camp Funston, Kansas
1920 Graduated from Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy
1922 Began career as a mining superintendent with the Peabody Coal Company
1949 (January 20) Attended a breakfast for President Truman with other veterans of Battery D, 129th Field Artillery
1952 (November 3) Attended a banquet in Kansas City, Missouri, with other members of Battery D to honor President Truman
1960 Retired from the Peabody Coal Company
1992 (December 12) Died

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

The papers of Lorain H. Cunningham document primarily his service in the 129th Field Artillery during World War I and his involvement with the Battery D Association beginning in 1948. The collection is organized into two series, a Subject File and a Chronological File.

The Subject File contains a diary, correspondence, memoranda, notes, military orders, clippings, and photographs. Most of the correspondence, memoranda, notes, and clippings were attached to or inserted between the pages of two photograph albums. Cunningham's diary documents his experiences as an army officer between May 1918, when his regiment left Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to travel to France, and May 1919, when he returned to the United States. Since much of his service in France was with Battery C of the 129th Field Artillery, and with the 301st Field Artillery and the 338th Field Artillery, his diary only occasionally relates to Battery D.

Important for their depiction of Battery D and other units in the 129th Field Artillery are the more than two hundred snapshots taken of activities at Fort Riley, Kansas, Camp Cody, New Mexico, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and on the battlefields and camp grounds of France. There are also photographs of New York harbor and of the reception given the 129th Field Artillery when it returned home to Kansas City. Cunningham took many, probably most, of the photographs himself, with a camera that he kept with him throughout his military service. The camera is now in the Truman Library's museum collection.

Most of the material in the Subject File that postdates World War I consists of correspondence, notes, and photographs relating to the reunion of Battery D veterans in Washington, D.C. in January 1949, held in conjunction with President Truman's inauguration, and their participation in the Inaugural parade. There also are a few newspaper articles that contain most of the information available in this collection on Cunningham's relationship with Harry S. Truman during World War I. The series also contains a small amount of material relating to a dinner given in Kansas City in November 1952 for President Truman. Cunningham sat at the head table with the President. There are a few items relating to Cunningham's school days and to his career with the Peabody Coal Company.

The other series, the Chronological File, is an accretion that was added to the collection in 2003. It includes correspondence, clippings, membership rosters, and other items relating mostly to the annual reunions of the Battery D Association on St. Patrick's Day and Armistice Day, President Truman's funeral in December 1972 (which Cunningham attended), and the activities of Cunningham and other World War I veterans through the 1980s. Much of the correspondence is with Eugene Donnelly and Edward Meisburger, the leaders of the Battery D Association. The series also includes a World War I map of the battlefields in France.

The material in this collection was not received in labeled folders. Therefore, appropriate folder titles have been created by the archivists.

Related collections in the Truman Library's holdings include the papers of Harry S. Truman, Vic H. Housholder, and Edward Meisburger; the records of the 35th Division Association; the documents relating to the 35th Division, U.S. Army, in the Library's holdings from Record Group 120, Records of the American Expeditionary Forces (World War I); and the correspondence books, document files, charge sheets and strength returns for Battery D, 129th Field Artillery, in the Library's holdings from Record Group 391, Records of U.S. Army Regular Army Mobile Units. The Library also has an oral history interview with Cunningham; it focuses on his Battery D experiences and his relationship with Harry S. Truman.

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


SERIES DESCRIPTIONS

Container Nos. Series
1 SUBJECT FILE, 1913-1989
A diary, correspondence, notes, U.S. Army orders, a chronology of Cunningham's World War I service, a roster of the Battery D Association, clippings, a 1949 Inaugural Gala program, and photographs relating to Cunningham's service in the 129th Field Artillery during World War I and to his involvement with the Battery D Association in the years after 1948. The series also contains a few references to his high school and university affiliations and to his career as a mining engineer with the Peabody Coal Company. Arranged by subject in an approximate chronological order.
CHRONOLOGICAL FILE, 1918-1992
Correspondence, clippings, membership rosters, notes, a map, and other printed material relating mostly to the annual reunions and other activities of the Battery D Association during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s; the death and funeral of President Truman in 1972; and the activities of Cunningham and other World War I veterans during this period. Arranged in chronological order.

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


FOLDER TITLE LIST

Box 1
  • Pages (Copies) from The Lucky Book, Cherokee County High School, Columbus, Kansas, May 1913
  • Pages (Copies) from The Rollamo, Volume II, 1917 [yearbook of Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy, Rolla, Missouri]
  • 129th Field Artillery-Chronology of Events, Correspondence, Orders and Notes, 1917-1919 [removed from a photograph Album]
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • 129th Field Artillery-Diary, 1918-1919
  • Battery D Association, 1949-1989 [correspondence, notes, rosters and clippings removed from a photograph album]
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • Invitation to the Inauguration Ceremony, January 20, 1949, Program, and Ticket of Admission to the "Inaugural Gala," January 19, 1949
  • Photographs [cross-reference sheets, and captions for photographs removed from albums]
  • 1918
  • 1961-1970
  • 1971-1973
      [1 of 2]
      [2 of 2]
  • 1974-1992
  • Undated or Miscellaneous

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Biographical Sketch | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]