Bob Dole, along with many other Americans of his time, including his brother Kenneth (Kenny), served in the Army during World War II. He reported for active duty in June 1943, having left the University of Kansas as a sophomore.
Bob and Kenny Dole briefly trained together at Camp Barkeley, Texas, where Bob was in the Medical Corps. After Texas, Bob went to Brooklyn, New York, to take engineering classes, then to several other bases to complete his training as a second lieutenant.
Bob went on to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in Italy, where he was ultimately wounded near Castel d'Aiano on April 14, 1945. Kenny was sent to the South Pacific and the campaign to liberate the Philippines, where he earned several medals before his January 1946 discharge.
This exhibit showcases a selection of letters written between members of the Dole family from 1941-1947. You may notice in the letters that Kenny is alternately referred to as Kenny, Kenney, and Kenneth. For consistency, we have used the "Kenny" spelling throughout. The letters range from Bob Dole's college years at the University of Kansas, to Bob and Kenny's military service in World War II, and through the years of recuperation required for the injury that Bob Dole sustained during the war.
The letters in this exhibit are primarily between Bob or Kenny Dole and members of the Dole family. They span from the day before Bob Dole's first day of school at the University of Kansas in September 1941 to his time in recovery at the Percy Jones General Hospital in April 1947.
Using the links below, these letters can be viewed as a list, or plotted along a timeline or a map.
Move around the timeline by dragging with your mouse or by double clicking a date along the bottom - try 1945 to see how it works. Text is color coded by the sender of the letter. Click on any entry to see additional details or to view a scan of the letter.
This map shows where Bob or Kenny Dole were on the date of any given letter. Click on any entry to see additional details or to view a scan of the letter.
To zoom in or out, use the scroll wheel on your mouse or the zoom controls on the left side of the map. Use your mouse to change the location on the map.
One Soldier's Story: A Memoir by Bob Dole.
HarperCollins Publishers, NY: 2005.
One Soldier's Story Book Tour
During the summer of 2005, 60 years after his wounding, Dole gave a series of interviews and talks about his book and the experiences described within it. Many of these talks are freely available to access online.
Watch Dole's talk from April 26, 2005, at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas (Dole takes the stage around the 9:00 mark).
Check Out Additional 2005 Interviews
In addition to the collections of letters, the Dole Archives holds a number of objects and photographs that help to document World War II. Below is a selection of materials relating to Dole's experiences. Please click any image to see a larger copy, along with a description of the item.
The letters held by the Dole Archives were collected and donated by the Dole family of Russell, Kansas: Doran and Bina Dole and their four children: Kenneth (Kenny), Bob, Norma Jean and Gloria.
The Dole Family Papers is a collection of letters, papers, photographs and memorabilia documenting the Dole family life, Bob Dole's school and military service, and also his early political career. Included in this collection are the 336 letters that form the basis of Dole’s memoir, One Soldier's Story. The material was collected and stored by Bina Dole and was donated to the Dole Archives in 2003 by his sisters Gloria Nelson and Norma Jean Steele. The letters range from March 1941 through November 1947 and include primarily letters between Bob Dole and members of his family, as well as other family friends and relations.
The Nancy (Dole) Poche Collection contains 174 letters written between 1938 and 1963. Nancy is the daughter of Kenny Dole and a niece of Bob Dole. Most of the correspondence is between Kenny and his parents while Kenny was in the Army (1943-1946), but there are letters between other family members as well. The collection was donated to the Dole Archives in 2007.
Together, these letters offer a glimpse into the daily life of soldiers in the United States Army during World War II – Kenny was a private, later promoted to corporal; Bob served as a second lieutenant and was later promoted to captain. The letters also cover Bob's student life at the University of Kansas prior to the war and his extended recovery process after he was wounded.
Senator Bob Dole & 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
Title: One Person’s Journey toward Equality for Those with Disabilities: Moving from the Personal to Global.
Description: These instructional materials include background on Senator Bob Dole’s life prior to and after his injury in WWII, which set the foundation for his later life as a public servant.
Grade level: Middle and High School
Authors: Joe O’Brien, Tina M. Ellsworth, Caitlin Scheckel and Chris Fellows
Contributors: Audrey Coleman, Senior Archivist, Dole Institute of Politics
Acknowledgements: Thank you to Zach White, Social Studies Teacher at Greensburg High School in Greensburg, Kansas, for his feedback on the materials.