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Legacy Initiative

Major John G. Emery in World War I – Early Leader of The American Legion book cover

New Legacy Initiative Book Now Available for Pre-Order

In mid-June, the Legacy Initiative Project at Park Tudor School will publish a book: Major John G. Emery in World War I – Early Leader of The American Legion. We are indebted to alumna Susan Brandt (his granddaughter) and her family for allowing us to bring this important project to fruition after more than three years of work and research.

This monograph is based on Emery’s personal letters, military papers, journals, his personally authored American Legion magazine articles, and two albums of photographs. It offers an intimate look at soldiers' day-to-day life on the battlefields of France and their poignant encounters with French citizens in war-torn communities.

This hardcover 8 ½ x 11 book is 180 pages and includes an index. It features more than 250 of his photographs, dozens of original maps, personal letters, and reminiscences about his WWI experiences in the 18th Infantry, 1st Division, of the AEF.  After the war, Emery who was from Grand Rapids, Michigan, was the 3rd commander of The American Legion. He led and similarly documented the Legion’s 250-man delegation to France in 1921.

Students with the Legacy Initiative Project were helpful in completing initial research into the 18th Infantry at the National Archives, as well as reviewing photographs and maps, and proofing materials.

John G. Emery’s extensive and remarkable WWI Collection adds significantly to the history of the 18th Infantry Regiment in the First Division. It is also important because it documents the American Legion’s pilgrimage to France in 1921 to dedicate memorials to the war dead. We are especially pleased that this book has received advance praise from numerous individuals, especially from organizations that relate to WWI history and The American Legion.

For more detailed information about pre-ordering this book, please contact Kathryn W. Lerch, editor. 

Pre-publication price of the new book is $25.00 (not including shipping & handling) until May 30th. You may reserve copies by mailing a check for $25.00 each to Kathryn Lerch (711 E 58th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46220). Make your check payable to “Park Tudor School” with “Legacy Initiative” on the memo line. I will place an initial print-on-demand order for potential customers June 1. You will be notified by email when your order may be picked up my house (sometime after June 10th) or you may request it be mailed. (Media mail & handling fee is $5.00 for 1-2 books.)

Regular cost of the book after May 30 will be $29.95 (not including shipping & handling). Thank you for supporting this important project. The profits help pay for future publications. Earlier volumes from the Words of War series of anthologies are still available.


"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