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Joseph Elsleger papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 16168

Scope and Contents Note

The Joseph Elsleger papers (1944-1945; 0.4 cubic foot) document Elsleger's time spent as a prisoner of the German Army in World War II, after his plane was shot down over France on June 23, 1944. The collection includes two diaries distributed by the YMCA chapter in Geneva, Switzerland: one blank save an introductory letter and one used by Elsleger. The latter's contents include drawings of the prison camp, makeshift recipes, photographs of unidentified people (presumably from Elsleger's home), and a list of friends within the POW camp. While a couple drawings are signed by Elsleger, many others are signed by an unidentified G. Pratt or a Ben Phelper from Oswego, Illinois. Elsleger also kept a brief diary of a forced camp-relocation march in April 1945, writing on the packaging of Lucky Strike cigarettes.

Other materials in the collection include Elsleger's Purple Heart and Air Medal, ribbon bars, and brass U.S. and Army Air Corps uniform collar discs. Also included is a Caterpillar Club membership card and brass pin, housed in a faux leather box with clear glass pane window.


  • Creation: 1944 - 1945

Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Biographical Note

Joseph Elsleger (1924-1996) enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on March 23, 1943 and served in France during World War II with the 392nd Bomb Group. On June 23, 1944, Elsleger's plane was shot down and he was captured by German troops. Elsleger survived imprisonment and lived in Pennsylvania and Ohio until his death in 1996.

Source: Family Search; materials within collection.


0.4 Cubic Feet (1 half-width document box (letter); 1 flat box)


2019-0151, Purchased 6 July 2016, Robert and Virginia Tunstall Trust Fund, 2016/2017.

Joseph Elsleger papers
Tanner Greene
15 January 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States