Patrick Osborn (B.A. ’93, M.A. ’94) was born to be a historian.
His father fought in World War II, spending time in occupied Germany after the Nazis were defeated. His grandfather was a doughboy in World War I. So it’s only natural that Osborn specializes in what he calls “the greatest conflicts in human history.”
As an archivist at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C, Osborn is responsible for preserving some of the country’s most important records.
“About 10 years ago, the National Archives had about one million cubic feet of records that had not been processed yet,” Osborn says. “The past 10 years have been about trying to get that material transcribed so the public can access it.”
That passion for research inspired Osborn to write several books on military history. His latest, The Hindenburg Line, focuses on Germany’s strongest line of defense in World War I.
Another one of Osborn’s interesting projects was transcribing a diary found inside a military tank.
“[The writer] mentioned a lot of names and using French terms that I wasn’t familiar with, so I ended up doing a lot of background research,” he says. “In the course of doing that, I gathered a lot of information – the only history of the tank wars wasn’t very comprehensive.”
Osborn, a Kansas City native, now lives in Maryland, which he says mirrors Missouri in some key ways.
“In Maryland, you are surrounded by history,” he says. “An hour or so away you can visit a number of civil war battlefields … It’s actually in some ways reminiscent of parts of Missouri. In that way it kind of feels like home.”