Library and Archives Restores Alvin C. York Map in Time for Veterans Day

Wednesday, November 9, 2016
People observe a forest map used by Alvin C. York on display at Sgt. Alvin C. York State Park in Pall Mall

Alvin C. York became Tennessee's most decorated World War I veteran for his heroism fighting the Germans in France's Argonne Forest. Now a map of the forest apparently used by York will be on display this weekend after a stop at the Tennessee State Library and Archives for some restoration work.

After returning from the war, York briefly lived in a house on his family's property while he built a bigger home in what is now Sgt. Alvin C. York State Park in Pall Mall. When a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency employee bought the smaller house, he discovered the map among a bunch of papers inside that belonged to York.

Travis Stover, the park's manager, said the map had been forgotten by York's descendants.

"No one had ever mentioned that document to me," Stover said. "The York family may not have even known it was there."

The map appears similar to the type issued to soldiers in the field. While it's not possible to say for certain that York had the map with him while he was in combat, it seems likely that he did.

"All the signs point to that," said Hobart Akin, cultural resources and exhibits specialist for Tennessee State Parks. "All the signs point to it being overseas with the guys who were in the fight."

The map is dated just a couple of months before the battle where York earned acclaim for taking out a German machine gun nest.

Park officials sent the map to the Library and Archives for some conservation work. That was recently completed and a digital copy of the map was made for the Library and Archives' collection.

The map was returned to Sgt. Alvin C. York State Park, where it will be on display this weekend as part of the park's Veterans Day celebration. Akin said it will be displayed on special occasions. The rest of the time, it will be stored in a climate-controlled environment. A copy of the map will be on permanent display at the park, Akin said.

"It's very fitting that Alvin C. York is being honored this Veterans Day," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "I'm proud that our staff at the Library and Archives was able to assist in conserving this important document so people can see it when they visit the park. Rare finds like this map help bring our state's history to life."

The park will be open from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Other activities planned to commemorate Veterans Day will include flyovers by World War I vintage aircraft, a re-enactment of trench warfare and a game of football played with World War I era rules.

To view the map online, go to: http://teva.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15138coll29/id/35/rec/120