RUSTON, La. (KTVE/KARD) – The Bernard J. Stinnett collection has made its debut at Louisiana Tech University.
The exhibit is a collection of letters, artwork, and photographs of a former U.S. Army Camp. Camp Ruston gives a new insight into understanding the lives of camp personnel, and its prisoners from the World War II era.
“Most of the collection is a result of archeological undertakings that we’ve done at the camp after it was closed. And they brought back a lot of artifacts like concrete castles and artworks and things. Some sculptures were found in someone’s old barn,” said Special Collections & Archives at Louisiana Tech, Tanya Arant.
One of the largest Prisoner-Of-War (POW) remaining camps established by the U.S. during World War II, is located on the western outskirts of the town of Grambling, Louisiana’s Camp Ruston.
“Which is kind of a sad thing when you hear Camp Ruston, it’s near Ruston, Louisiana, and Grambling gets kinda forgotten in this. Some residents were impacted as well, but also the waxed when they weren’t stationed on the campsite, they were stationed in the town,” explained Arant.
It’s reported that over four thousand prisoners from different nationalities were stationed at Camp Ruston. The camp operated from 1943 and later closed in 1946.
80 years later, historical collections of different artifacts and letters were donated to the Louisiana Tech Special Collections and Archives. All thanks to the family of a former Clerk for the German Prisoners of War.
“Bernard Stinnett came here to us from Camp Barkeley in Texas. So, he wrote extensively about that, about life in the Army, and how it works. And also about his interaction with prisoners,” said Arant.
Stinnett wrote letters containing descriptions of his daily activities at the camp, especially letters about his love for a young Ruston woman.
“And they got married here on December 5th, 1945. And when he left in 1946, they went ahead and set up home again in Baltimore,” said Arant.
The Bernard Stinnett collection is currently on display and it will be digitized and uploaded to Louisiana Tech University’s digital commons institutional repository and the Louisiana digital library by February 2023.