Maryville family donates war hero’s papers to Tennessee Tech University
From Maryville College
Writings of a friend and adviser to World War I hero Sgt. Alvin C. York are moving from an Maryville family’s home to Tennessee Tech University.
When Sgt. York returned home to Fentress County after duty in France, he met Arthur Samuel Bushing at a bank. Bushing advised him on finances and debt management and later became his business manager.
In time, as York began to travel to raise money for the York Institute in his hometown of Jamestown, Bushing wrote speeches for York and became a friend of the family.
Bushing’s son, Arthur Story “Art” Bushing, grew up in Jamestown, hearing World War I tales from York and playing with York’s sons. One of Art’s favorite childhood memories was standing on the shoes of York and holding on to the imposing man as he took wide strides across a room or yard. The younger Bushing graduated from the then-established Alvin C. York Institute in 1939.
“It seemed only natural, then, for Art to make his own collection of York memorabilia,” said his wife of 64 years, Dorothy L. “Dotty” Bushing, of Maryville.
An alumnus and longtime English professor and administrator of Maryville College, Art Bushing held on to York photos, correspondence and news clippings that had belonged to his father, who died in 1968. He collected other York memorabilia and gave many lectures on York and the World War eras.
Also a decorated veteran, Art Bushing earned the Bronze Star, the Battle of the Rhineland medal and the Battle of Central Europe medal for his World War II service in the European Theater.
His unpublished works include “Life in Uncle Sam’s Army, WWII,” “Alvin C. York: Hero and Educator,” “York’s Longest Battle” and “Henry Fielding’s Library.”
Art Bushing died in 2008. As Dotty Bushing and her children began to catalog their family history — the senior Bushing’s relationship with Sergeant York and Art Bushing’s writings and memories of his own experiences in World War II — they set out to find a permanent public home for the York collection.
“It is my pleasure, in tandem with my children, to donate this collection to Tennessee Tech University, where it will be maintained in archival condition and be open to the public for research,” said Dotty Bushing.
Since earlier this year, the family has worked with Dr. Michael Birdwell, history professor at Tennessee Tech and a York scholar, to make arrangements for the collection to be moved to Tech’s Angelo & Jennette Volpe Library. The first of the artifacts to be cataloged are photographs and letters between the senior Bushing and Sgt. York. Art Bushing’s World War II diary also will become part of the collection at TTU.
“We have spent quite some time trying to determine the right place for our collection of York-related letters, documents and photographs,” said Arthur S. “Stuart” Bushing, Art and Dotty Bushing’s son. “Given history professor Michael Birdwell’s passion and personal dedication for the history of Sergeant York, as well as President Philip Oldham’s interest in the topic, Tennessee Tech will provide an excellent venue for the preservation and public availability for these York-related items.”
Birdwell met Art Bushing in 1988, when the historian was asked to work on projects related to the creation of the Sergeant Alvin C. York State Historic Park in Pall Mall. He interviewed Bushing then and kept in touch through the years.
“Dotty Bushing and her family are to be commended for donating Art Bushing’s papers to Tennessee Tech. Art had a special relationship with Sergeant York — a relationship almost as close as that of York’s children — and his papers offer fresh, new insights into the life and contributions of an exceptional Tennessean,” the professor said. “The Bushing Collection is an exciting addition to the TTU archives, and I am honored to have played a role in their preservation for posterity.”