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Legacy Initiative

Legacy Initiative Project Marks 25 Years

By Kathryn Lerch, Legacy Initiative Coordinator

A “Dear Abby” column was the impetus to found Park Tudor’s Legacy Initiative Project in 1998. I contacted Andy Carroll, founder of the Legacy Project in Washington, DC by mail. Shortly thereafter I received a phone call at school when he suggested that I add the word ‘Initiative’ to our project—to distinguish our two projects. I later visited his apartment in Washington, D.C., which was crammed full of bins of WW2 letters, which further inspired me to develop our own project.

In 1999, we made an appeal to faculty, parents and the PT community at large for wartime correspondence and documents. Thus began the Legacy Initiative Project. Thanks to initial funding from the History and English Departments, we published the first anthology, Words of War: Wartime Memories from the Civil War Through the Gulf War. This publication caught the attention of former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar who was promoting the newly established Library of Congress Veterans History Project. Lugar invited our school to participate. This expanded the Legacy Project and from 2002-2016, students interviewed veterans and completed more than 700 interviews for the Library of Congress. Approximately 300 of these interviews are also available online at the IUPUI Library. Numerous outstanding WW2 interviews were also published in volumes 2-5 of our Words of War series.

Through the years, hundreds of items have been digitally scanned and transcribed by students participating in the Project. Students have also participated in research field trips to the National Archives, Civil War battlefields, and WWII sites in Europe (notably to London and the Imperial War Museum, as well as France, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic).

More recently, when an individual’s WWI or WWII wartime collection has been large and exceptional, the Project has published a monograph or biography. Our next monograph features a woman, Alma DeLuce.

In our 25th year, there is a new and exciting opportunity for students to engage in hand-on-history. The Legacy Project is collaborating with American Ancestor’s 10 Million Names Project to assist in giving names to African American enslaved people. This involves students who like to do detective work: sleuthing online through wills, census records, schedules, etc. to help identify and give names to enslaved people. We encourage students, parents and faculty to help support this new “initiative.” Do you have an ancestor you would like to identify? Let’s collaborate! Contact me at


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Alma De Luce Book Cover

Your European Correspondent Alma De Luce 1939-1941

Since 2001, the Legacy Initiative Project has published six anthologies, four travel journals, and three biographical monographs. The latest book about Pierce Powers, MD, was published June 2022, soon to be followed by another monograph containing wartime correspondence written by Alma De Luce, wife of AP Press and Pulitzer Prize recipient, Daniel De Luce. Alma and Dan arrived in England in spring 1939. The next assignment brought them to Budapest, Hungary—so that Dan could be closer to the action. From there Dan traveled to Poland to report on the electrifying events of September 1, 1939. The De Luces always remained close to the action and frequently they were just a step ahead of the German Army. When the Germans invaded Hungary, the couple fled Budapest for Athens. Their stay here was also too brief. When the Germans invaded Greece, the couple fled next to Beirut, Lebanon. Although Alma eventually sailed across the Pacific to the States, Dan backtracked to Yugoslavia where he did “telegraphic reporting of Tito’s partisans in Yugoslavia in 1943”. For this assignment, he received the Pulitzer Prize in 1944. However, Alma’s letters to her friends are just as compelling. Her perceptive and descriptive analysis of locales, people and events are a pleasure to read. She possessed a wry sense of humor and exceptional writing skills—thus her letters are just as captivating as her husband’s press reports. Their wartime adventure story is comparable to the action plots in Herman Wouk’s Winds of War trilogy and the TV series Fortunes of War (1984). Stay tuned!

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First page of the PDF file: LerchBookSignInvitation


Forthcoming and Future Publications


History of Legacy Initiative Project

"Hands on History Through Research and Writing"

A November 1999 New York Times article, "In wartime letters home, the eloquence of common men," was the inspiration for a special history project at Park Tudor School. The Times article was about Washington, D.C. author Andrew Carroll and his efforts to collect and publish original letters written from the front and from home, "letters that had been written in wartime and had survived in attics and at the bottom of drawers, the buried testimony of men and women who had known war too well."

We saw an opportunity to actively engage our students in the study of humanities. As a result, a collaborative initiative was conceived among members of the History and English departments in the Upper School, whereby students have an opportunity for hands-on history, through research and writing. Students work from copies of original primary sources. They have the opportunity to develop history research skills, learn how to select and organize diverse materials for the publication of an anthology, and use their English skills to document and edit primary materials. Four hardcover anthologies have been published to date.

Thus, this is an appeal for copies (not originals!) of family-held, unpublished documents from any of the wars in which Americans fought - from the Revolution to Afghanistan. This may include letters, diaries, photos, maps or drawings. Documents in a foreign language are also encouraged.

Since 2002, the Legacy Initiative has partnered with the Veteran History Project and Senator Richard Lugar's office in Indiana. The Veteran History Project is a part of the Library of Congress' effort to document veterans' oral histories. Our students will be available to assist in completing oral histories on site at Park Tudor and at local libraries. Completed oral histories will be submitted to the Library of Congress. The Legacy Initiative will also select the best oral histories for possible inclusion in our next published anthology. We also encourage veterans to share with our project their photographs and other wartime documents.

Our anthology will help preserve the legacy and heritage of these wartime writers, and we would also like to help those donating documents with preservation guidance.

PDF Legacy Initiative Project Brochure

Kathryn W. Lerch
Legacy Initiative Director


  • To engage students actively in the study of history
  • To develop critical thinking and writing skills in the humanities
  • To generate an awareness of self-sacrifice through "Duty, Honor and Country"

Goals of the Legacy Initiative

  • To build a connection between generations
  • To build a connection with the community
  • To locate and help preserve original letters and documents
  • To share oral and written histories with the community
  • To value responsibility, ethics and citizenship

What We Offer Interviewees

  • An opportunity to share their story through a digital recording (in person or by phone, if long-distance) or through a video filmed at Park Tudor School
  • A transcript of the interview
  • A digital recording (CD with audio files or DVD) of the interview, if requested
  • Scanning and archiving of photos, letters, diaries, etc. onto CDs
  • For interviewees whose stories are published in our anthology Words of War, a copy of the book and recognition at book signing events