The Medaris Collection

  August - December 2014

Medaris sign

Medaris case

Historical Significance of the General John Bruce Medaris Collection

 On October 1, 1970, General Medaris wrote FIT’s first President, Dr. Jerome P. Keuper:

“As I review the total of memorabilia that I have sent to the Institute, I feel that perhaps
all of it together might clearly illustrate the fact that one does not need either family or
money to make some success in this America. I really think that feeling needs to be

The Evans Library is privileged to house the General John Bruce Medaris Special Collection, a treasure
of materials donated in their entirety by the American general who presided over our nation’s first successful
space program more than fifty years ago. 

The meticulous accounts written in daily journals by General Medaris span a period of twenty years from 1942
to 1962. Combined with relevant biographies, photograph albums, informative booklets, invitations, letters,
memos, newspaper clippings, newspaper articles, speeches, World War II army reports, correspondence,
rocket models, awards, films, and other memorabilia, this special collection provides researchers a close
observation of a distinguished military leader whose career encompassed the Second World War’s European
military campaign all the way through to the first American rocket scientists in action. 

Medaris case left

Order of the Lash Award

Order of the Lash Award closeup

Description: Order of the Lash Award. A large plaque that reads "Order of the Lash; Plenipotentiary-In-Chief;
Major General J.B. Medaris." In the middle of the plaque is a metal hook, this is meant to hold a bull whip.

Description: Bull Whip. A handmade leather bull whip. There are two stamps on the handle that read
"Bucheimer Made Since 1884; Twoson Quality" and " 0108." The whip shows slight fraying along its length.

Decorated crop

Description: Decorative Military Knife (top left). A military knife and matching leather sheath. The knife itself has a
clear resin handle with a red support running through it. The handle is also banned with a silver looking metal
and a dark wood at the middle. The sheath is made of sewn and clasped together leather with an imprint that reads
"U.S. M6 Barwood 1943." On the body of the knife there reads the tag "U.S. M3-U.C.-1943." This may have been a
gift from Medaris’s friends in Argentina.

Description: Curved Ornamental Hunting Knife (top right).This knife has a curved blade that is about 7 inches long. 
The hand is made of layered bronze, copper and ivory. The knife is held within a brown leather sheath that has no
identifiable markings

Description: Decorated Crop (front). The handle of the crop is decorated in a similar fashion to a hunting knife that
is a part of the collection. It is composed of several layers of an ebony material with a crystal material in the center of
the handle. The total length is roughly 3.5 feet, and the body of the crop is a dark brown color. The stitching of the
crop is red and white.

Case top left

Description: Two Star Plaque (top right). A red piece of plastic with two white stars on it. It can be assumed that
these were representative of the two stars that General Medaris earned.

Description: Curved Ornamental Hunting Knife (bottom right). This knife has a curved blade that is about 7 inches
long. The hand is made of layered bronze, copper and ivory. The knife is held within a brown leather sheath that
has no identifiable markings

Case lower left 2

Description: Silver Baton (front). This baton has a silver body, and is made completely out of metal. The grip is a black
painted metal, and it has two silver stars on it along with a plaque that reads, "J.B. Medaris/ Maj. Gen. U.S. Army." There
are signs of corrosion on the metal. The baton is held in a black leather sleeve with green trim.

Description: J.B. Medaris Name Plate (right). The name plate is a little over a foot in length and reads, "Major General
J.B. Medaris." 

First US Satellite Award

Description: First United States Satellite Award. The award is a small metal rocket
mounted on a square stand. The stand has a plaque that reads "Maj. Gen. J.B. Medaris;
First United States Satellite; Army Ballistic Missile Agency; 31 January 1958."

People of AL Award

Description: Award to John B. Medaris from the People of Alabama.
The award is a plaque with asilver rocket mounted on top. The rocket
has the red letters "UE" painted on it. The plague reads "To; Major
General John Bruce Medaris; And the men of Redstone; Who reached
the stars; From the people of Alabama; October 1, 1956."  

Explorer I Model

Description: Explorer I Model. A small model of Explorer I rocket mounted on a tear-drop shaped stand. The
rocket has blue stripes down its side. It is assumed that this was given to General Medaris from the Jet Propulsion

Green Jupiter Mug

Description: Green Jupiter Mug. This mug is in commemoration of the launching of the first U.S. satellite into space.
It has a clay figure of a Jupiter rocket on one side, and it has "Maj. Gen. J.B. Medaris" written in gold along the other
side. On the bottom it has the phrases," The Jupiter 'C' Put the 1st U.S.A. Satellite into Orbit./At Cape Canaveral
Florida 1-31-1958."

Model rocket & Postcard

Description: Apollo 7 Postcard (left). The postcard was preserved in a shell of clear
plastic. It does not appear have actually been used, but it is addressed to "Bendix
launch Support Division/5225 South Washington/ Titusville, Florida 32780." Right
of center is the image of the Saturn 5 rocket launching and Bendix technicians
working on fuel systems. Left of center are fake postmarks and stamps. Below the
postcard is a label that reads, "Maj. Gen. J.B. Medaris."

Description: Model Rocket with Triangular Fins (center). Roughly a foot and a half long,
the model rocket is white with black sections painted on. The fins at the bottom are of a
triangular shape. The rocket has the words "US Army" along the side. The nose cone
is more pointed than the other model rockets.

Impact helmet

Description: Impact Helmet. A black impact helmet that reads on the brim, "Presented
to MAJ. GEN. J.B. Medaris By-M.F.L.-1960." On the crown of the hat, it reads in red
capital letters "MEDARIS" with two stars above.


Medaris case right


Description: Medaris: Count Down for Decision (left). "The all-important story of American Missile
development by the Army's top missile commander during the momentous years in which the
space age was born. A frank appraisal of the successes, failures and errors of the past five
years as well as a penetrating look at our program for the future- by the only man truly qualified
and able to tell the story."

Description: A New Command (right). General Medaris's biography by his friend Gordon Harris.
Harris was in charge of handling the public affairs for NASA and served as a personal
representative for General Medaris and Dr. Wernher von Braun.

Medals display

Medals display closeup

Description: The Crowell Medal (left). Awarded by American Ordnance Association to Maj. Gen. J.B. Medaris 
on November 1958.

Michael I. Pupin Anniversary Medal (top middle). Awarded by Columbia Engineering Alumni Association to Maj.
Gen. J.B. Medaris on December 1958.

Distinguished Service Award. (bottom middle). Awarded by Jacksonville University to Maj. Gen. J.B. Medaris on
September 1958.

The Crozier Medal (right). Awarded by Amercian Ordnance Association to Maj. Gen. J.B. Medaris on October 

Radio-Free Europe Fund Award

Description: Radio-Free Europe Fund Award. The award is actually a preserved piece of barbed-wire from the
"Iron Curtain." Within the sealed plastic is the wire. General Medaris did serve time in the second World War.
Beneath the wire is a silver-gold shield that reads, "This authentic barbed wire from/The Iron Curtain/is awarded
in recognition of/distinguished service to/Radio Free Europe Fund."

Strategic Defense Binder

Description: Strategic Defense Initiative Organization Civil Applications Program Advisor's Handbook (left).
A binder filled with items created by the Department of the Defense for use in civilian technologies.

Hot dog award closeup

Description: Hot Dog Award. The award is composed of a golden hotdog on top of a marble stand. The stand
has a plaque that reads, "J.B.M. From Hot Dog." On the bottom there is a stamp that says, "Home of Williams/
37. South Wabash Avenue/Chicago."

Bulova watch

Description: Bulova Watch In Pieces. All 119 parts of a small Bulova watch are sealed within a clear plastic
encasement. The cogs and gears are neatly placed in lines. In between the lines are a description of what the
viewer is seeing, "Bulova/American Precision for American Defense/23 Jewels/Six Adjustments/119 Tiny Parts
Make up the smallest American-Made watch movement/Tolerances one ten-thousandth to four one-millionths
of an inch." Inside the plastic is an American dime for size comparison. The face of the watch would fit inside
the parameters of the dime.

Case bottom right

Canadian Altimeter

Description: Canadian Altimeter. Later in life, General Medaris became an accomplished pilot. This is another
altimeter that appears to have been used before. It is black in color, and the back has identifying information on it.
It reads, "Canadian Aircraft instruments & Accessories LTD./Leaside. Ontario./ACA/Ser. NO. 40759 Type SA1L/
Canada 42 REF. NO. 6AA-145."

Redstone Yacht Club paperweight

Description: Redstone Yacht Club Paper Weight. A small paper weight with a Redstone Arsenal flag sticking out
of the top. There is a plague on the paperweight and it reads "Commodore; J.B. Medaris; Redstone Yacht Club;

Engine Failure

Description: Engine Failure. This is a piece of an airplane engine that General Medaris flew. After an engine
malfunction one day, Medaris was forced to land. The plaque has a piece of the aircraft engine attached to it.
The engine part is very damaged, with a strange protrusion at the top. It possibly may be a bullet. The inscription
on the plaque reads, "Engine Failure L-266 56-4025/16 July 1958/Pilot Maj. Gen. J.B. Medaris/Co-Pilot Capt.
J.K. Selfe."

Wind velocity meter

Description: Wind Velocity Meter. The velocity meter is a black ring of metal with a fan like device in the center.
There is a gauge directly in the middle of the circle. On the gauge face it reads, "Keuffel & Esser Co./New York."
On the side of the meter the words, "USDA SCS/K-228" are engraved. On the bottom of the stand it there are the
numbers, "35576." The meter rests in an orange-brown leather case. At the bottom of the case is a piece of paper
with the calibration curve of the instrument.

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December 2014