The Burdick Project is named after Professor Charles B. Burdick, to honor his memory and his contribution to the study of military history. After service in the United States Army, he graduated as a history major from San Jose State College in 1949, and obtained his Ph.D. at Stanford University. The research for his dissertation, on the German High Command in World War II, involved interviews with many of the surviving members of the German General Staff. In 1957, Burdick returned to San Jose State as a member of the History Department and in 1976, became its chair. Burdick worked to create the vigorous military history program at SJSU and helped build up the library’s collection to one of the best on the west coast. During his career, he published dozens of articles and book chapters, and wrote or edited over 20 books. After an association with San Jose State that spanned 45 years, Dr. Burdick retired in 1988. He died in 1998, and in that year the Project was named in his honor.
The Project has sponsored numerous lectures, panels and talks, including the annual Charles Burdick Memorial Military History Symposium, held every spring since 1996. Topics have included African-Americans in the military, Women in the Military, the Military History of Iraq, SJSU at War; and our most recent event, a panel discussion “Writing Military History,” which included four local writers of popular military history. We also sponsor the annual Harry Gailey Memorial Lecture on a military campaign, as well as other presentations. We also provide support for the Air Force and Army ROTC, military recruiters, and the SJSU Veterans Student Organization. We have donated material for a number of university exhibits, including the 150th anniversary and a recent one in Special Collections on World War II posters.
The Project is located in Industrial Studies, 239 where we keep our collection of more than 5,000 books, journals, pamphlets, field manuals, photographs and artifacts. There is not only an excellent collection of general military history works, but many that are quite unusual and even rare. Our American Civil War collection is derived mainly from the personal one of the former State Librarian of Illinois. We have a small collection of donated militaria, including an 1812 Brown Bess musket (kept in the University Police firearms locker) and a 17th century English cavalry helmet. The Project includes a Veterans oral history project, and has collected dozens of oral histories, including those made with a number of faculty veterans.
The Burdick Military History Project Office is open Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm.