Marine Corps uniforms in the John H. Glenn Archives at The Ohio State University

Col. John Glenn (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

November 10th is birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps, celebrating that day in 1775 when the organisation was established by the Second Continental Congress. In honor of their service, I thought I would highlight an interesting collection of Marine Corps uniforms held by The Ohio State University Libraries.

The John H. Glenn Archives, part of the Ohio Public Policy Archives held at The Ohio State University contains papers and memorabilia donated by the former U.S. senator, NASA astronaut and U.S. Marine Corps aviator. According to the online finding aid, the collection contains approximately 2,000 cubic feet of materials, divided into four groups: Senate papers, non-Senate papers, audiovisual resources and artifacts.

Among the 1,968 artifacts include 41 military uniforms components. Glenn trained as a naval aviator in 1942 and transferred to the U.S. Marine Corps a year later. He served as a fighter pilot in World War II and the Korean War before applying to be a test pilot, a position that ultimately led to a career with NASA. More information about Glenn’s military career can be found here.

In their 2010 paper “Textile History and the Military,” historians Kjeld Galster and Marie-Louise Nosch note that textiles play an important part in military service and that uniforms are likely what people think about when they think about textiles and the armed forces. The Glenn Archive contain a variety of his different military uniforms, including utility, dress and formal options:

The Marine Corps notes that there is history and purpose in every symbol, include their uniforms, and that those uniforms that Marines wear connect them to their history. More information can be found on contemporary Marine Corps uniforms here.

The classic text covering the history of the Marine Corp uniform, Uniforms of the American Marines, 1775 to 1829 written by Edwin North McClellan is available as an electronic resource online, accessible via the Federal Depository Library Program Electronic Collection here.

The Department of Defence has a interesting virtual exhibit Common Threads: Marine Corps that show how Marine Corps uniforms have evolved over time and is available here.

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