Veterans History Project: Illuminating the Future by Sharing the Past

Today’s post is by Veterans History Project (VHP) Liaison Specialist Lisa A. Taylor who works in the John Adams Building. With the Project since 2009, Lisa is on the team responsible for program communication and coordination. Among other duties, she writes and edits materials for publication and works with local and national organizations and Congressional offices to encourage veterans to tell their stories and to inspire interviewers to record them.

We are highlighting the VHP today to remind our readers to collect the stories of our veterans. 

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 20 million war veterans live in the United States. In October of 2000, Congress created the Veterans History Project (VHP) of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress (Public Law 106-380). VHP’s mission is to collect, preserve and make accessible the wartime stories ofAmerica’s veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. These first-person accounts are a rich supplement to historical texts and an invaluable resource for researchers, educators, the general public and the veterans’ families.

We encourage war veterans, their families, veterans groups, communities and students to record and donate veterans’ interviews, along with any original photographs, diaries, letters, maps and other wartime documents, to the Library of Congress where they are housed in the American Folklife Center in perpetuity.

VHP has created very easy-to-follow forms, instructional materials and a great website that walks anyone—from teenagers to the elderly—through the process. The homepage includes a 15-minute video featuring PBS Documentarian Ken Burns who offers helpful tips for conducting a good interview.

Women’s Army Corps (WACS) take oath on Capitol steps . Photograph from Harris & Ewing

To date, volunteer contributors have recorded and submitted more than 85,000 personal recollections to VHP, making it the largest oral history collection in the United States. These include the remembrances of male and female veterans from all 50 states and the U.S. territories who served during World War I through today’s conflicts, in all branches of the U.S. military. Approximately 12,500 stories have been digitized and are also accessible on the searchable database found on our website.

The Project has been a huge success, thanks to a vast network of individual and organizational volunteers from across the nation that collect these priceless, first-hand accounts from the men and women who served our nation during wartime. It doesn’t matter what role they played or what rank they were, we want every veteran’s story, even if they did not see combat. It does not matter if you were a cook, secretary, nurse, photographer, submariner, artist, pilot or commanding officer. If you wore a U.S. military uniform and are no longer serving, we want to hear from you!

 

One Comment

  1. Ronald Neely
    January 31, 2013 at 12:04 am

    Thank you! You often write very interesting articles.

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