January 22, 2022

Troy University Archives Now Hold an Original, Signed Copy of The Treaty Of Versailles

From Troy University (Troy, Alabama):

In late June 1919, a young Army lieutenant from Camden, Alabama witnessed the signing of the agreement that ended World War I, an agreement he had helped draft as a member of the American Commission to Negotiate the Peace.

When he eventually made it back to the United States – after nearly causing the State of Alabama to invade Russia – Dr. Emmett Kilpatrick brought back an original copy of the treaty signed by all signatories. Eventually, that copy was donated to Troy University and is now part of the Library’s archives. It was inscribed by Kilpatrick in France with his name and a date of July 1919.

Dr. Kilpatrick joined the Troy State Teacher’s College faculty in 1937, taught French and later chaired the English Department until his retirement in 1961. Never married, his family donated the copy of the treaty to the University after his death in 1968.

While the copy’s life since arriving at TROY is obscure, the bound treaty, complete with maps, recently resurfaced and found its way to retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Walter Givhan, Senior Vice Chancellor for Advancement and Economic Development.

“This is a unique and invaluable window into a pivotal moment in world history,” Givhan said.

The original copy of the Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I, is inscribed by Dr. Emmett Kilpatrick in July 1919. (TROY photo/Clif Lusk)
The original copy of the Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I, is inscribed by Dr. Emmett Kilpatrick in July 1919. (TROY photo/Clif Lusk)

“For students and researchers, to have access to an original document that set the stage for all that would follow in the 20th century is simply amazing. Normally, all we learn from this time period is what is written in the history books and secondary sources, but to be able to hold that history in your hand in the form of a primary document and read it for yourself is a moving experience,” he said.

While the copy itself is very fragile after more than a century, the printing on its pages is as legible today as when it was produced in July 1919 for the members of the various negotiating teams.

“I think it is profoundly significant for our students to come into tangible contact with such an important artifact of American and global history,” said Dr. Chris Shaffer, Dean of Library Services. “That’s the very reason the Libraries host exhibits such as the Remnant Trust that provides students an experience in a textual manner that helps them develop a love of history.”

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.