The "Gold Star" records and related projects began as initiatives of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association as a way to memorialize Tech alumni and students who had given their lives or had been taken as prisoners of war or had been declared missing in action during service in the United States Armed Forces from World War I to the Vietnam War. Primary focus is on World War II and the Vietnam War.
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Folders 6 and 20 have been restricted from viewing due to privacy concerns.
Permission to publish materials from this collection must be obtained from the Head of Archives and Special Collections.
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The content of the “Gold Star” alumni and student records is fairly consistent throughout the materials available in the Georgia Tech Archives’ holdings for this collection. The records primarily consist of information regarding fallen, captive, and missing Georgia Tech alumni and students who had served in the United States Armed Forces, particularly in World War II (WWII) or the Vietnam War. Common information components included the name of the alumnus or student, as well as accompanying class year (when applicable,) rank, and details regarding death or status, such as “prisoner of war” (POW) or “missing in action” (MIA.) The specificity and depth of such biographical information varied from individual to individual. Information on servicemen who participated in World War I (WWI) and the Korean War, as well as those killed during peacetime in training and other types of accidents was included, especially more so in the later years, circa 1970-1976. The primary focus is on WWII followed by the Vietnam War. The bulk of the material is from either 1944-1952 or 1970-1976. Any items predating 1944 were usually older materials sent in as part of information regarding fallen Tech servicemen who had served in WWII.
The information was captured primarily in incoming correspondence and accompanying textual material, responses to the Annual Alumni Roll Call, and through the usage of notes and note cards. There are also notifications from various fraternity orders circa 1948 with regards to status updates on their members that had served in the war (WWII) and had died or were declared POW or MIA. Condolence letters (circa 1947) from the Alumni Association to those who knew the fallen servicemen are also included. Some of the information is taken from The Georgia Tech Alumnus. The resultant lists and memorial rolls of this gathering of information are included in the records. Information regarding corrections and additions to the “Gold Star” lists is also included. The materials from the 1970s are similar to those from the 1940s.
Letters, invoices, and other accompanying textual material regarding the design, procurement, and dedication of a bronze memorial plaque circa 1971 are included as well. Information concerning additions and corrections to this plaque, as well as materials concerning the physical addition of a second plaque, installed a few years later, is present in the holdings, as well.
Types of materials present in the collection include incoming and outgoing correspondence, handwritten and typed notes, clippings, envelopes, articles, notecards, memoranda, invoice statements, and some ephemera.
The Georgia Tech Alumni Association is the official alumni association for the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech.) The first recorded meeting of the association was held in 1896. Georgia Tech's first graduate, Henry L. Smith (ME '90), invited former classmates to join him at his home to discuss the idea of an alumni association. Together, they drafted the first set of by-laws in 1898. In 1906, a petition for a charter was produced, and it was granted on June 20, 1908. In 1919, reorganization occurred and new by-laws were drafted under the name of the Georgia Tech National Alumni Association, under the leadership of W. H. Glenn (1891.) The physical manifestation of it on campus has also been referred to as the Alumni Office or Alumni Activities. Several programs have developed out of the Alumni Association, such as a placement service started in 1923 by George C. Griffin and the Annual Alumni Roll Call, an annual fundraising and outreach campaign, which was started circa 1947.
The Alumni Association was also the impetus behind various “Gold Star” projects. The "Gold Star" memorial lists came to be known as a way to acknowledge Georgia Tech alumni who had made the “Supreme Sacrifice” while in the service of the United States Armed Forces. In the 1940s, the Georgia Tech National Alumni Association began gathering information regarding Tech alumni and students who had served in War World II and had been killed in action (KIA,) taken as a prisoner of war (POW,) or were missing in action (MIA.) This information was often sent in to the Alumni Office by outside sources--some solicited and some unsolicited--such as relatives or friends of the servicemen, as well as from the respective fraternities of which they had been a member. Much of this incoming information came to the Alumni Association by way of the Annual Alumni Roll Call.
In the late 1940s, the information gathered was then turned into “Gold Star” lists, which listed the names and accompanying details of these servicemen. This information was also used for the alumni directory, war memorial records, and a “Gold Star Alumni” column in the alumni publication, The Georgia Tech Alumnus. Tributes to such individuals had been published in issues of the Alumnus since January 1942. These tributes often appeared in the publication as the “Gold Star World War II Memorial Roll." Circa 1946 the Public Relations Office at Georgia Tech also had a hand in the Gold Star lists, particularly in the Georgia Tech World War II Memorial Roll.
In the 1970s “Gold Star” initiatives were revived in response to losses from the Vietnam War. As with earlier “Gold Star” lists, information concerning Tech alumni and students deemed KIA, POW, or MIA was sought by the Alumni Association. At this time it was decided to take these memorial lists and transform them into a plaque to be installed on Tech’s campus as a way of honoring these alumni and students who had sacrificed their lives while serving in the Armed Forces in WWI and each war or conflict through Vietnam, respectively. The memorial was in the form of a large bronze plaque installed on Tech’s campus at the Student Center. Campus Architect David Savini was involved with the plaque creation. The Georgia Tech Foundation was billed for the plaque, which was dedicated during homecoming on October 29, 1971. The dedication ceremony took place on the front steps of the Georgia Tech Student Center at Hemphill Avenue with Dr. James Boyd, then acting president of Tech, presiding over the ceremony. Development and Public Relations at Tech, as well as Dean George Griffin, were also involved in the plaque project. Circa 1974 Tech started preparing for a physical addition to the plaque for additional names left off of the 1971 plaque. The Cobb Company was chosen as a vendor for both plaque projects.
Sources: MS024 and collection itself consulted as sources for the creation of the Administrative History note.
Records are organized by topic and chronologically or alphabetically where applicable.
This collection contains fragile "onionskin" paper, as well as several smaller scraps of paper or notecards and ephemera. Care should be taken when handling these materials so as to not lose any items or damage the fragile paper.
A print copy of this finding aid is available in the Georgia Tech Archives reading room.
This collection of records was originally brought to the Georgia Tech Archives by Tara Goers of the Georgia Institute of Technology's Institute Communications and Public Affairs. The materials had resided in the office of Tammy Tuley-Purves, former Director of Institute Communications.
The visual materials in this collection, including photographs and architectural drawings, have been separated and will be processed as VAUA410.
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Brittany Parris processed these records and encoded the finding aid in May 2011.