This Veterans Day, the Veterans History Project (VHP) is proud to debut a pair of research tools to help users discover and navigate our collections related to the Vietnam War.
The newest installment of Serving: Our Voices pulls from VHP’s holdings of over 25,0000 narratives relating to Vietnam veterans. For this presentation, we have focused specifically on servicemembers who served “in country,” that is, on the ground in Vietnam.
In curating this online exhibit—titled “In Country: Stories from the Vietnam War”—we were inspired by the idea that the spaces and places we inhabit can deeply affect our experiences, and in turn, our memories of those experiences. In the many years that I’ve spent working with VHP collections, I’ve always been struck by this facet of veterans’ accounts: that where someone served often played a key role in shaping their military experience. Even veterans who served within the same branch or occupied the same role often had a dramatically different journey, depending on where they were deployed.
Although the Vietnam War was fought within the confines of a single country, veterans who served there encountered radically different locales and circumstances. “In Country: Stories from the Vietnam War” explores a sampling of these locations, and stories from the veterans who served in them. While James Kimsey served as company commander with the 82nd Airborne, stationed near Duc Pho, Peter Young managed a base library in Cu Chi. Ann Cunningham served in multiple surgical hospitals scattered around the country, while Rae Leff nursed patients aboard the floating hospital on the USS Repose. Frank Aceves’ view of the country was also from the water, as he served with the Mobile Riverine Force stationed at Dong Tam. And prisoners of war John Stavast and Marion Anthony Marshall spent much of the war confined within the walls of the Hỏa Lò Prison (also known as the “Hanoi Hilton”).
By assembling these narratives and presenting them together, we hope to demonstrate the vast array of places and situations in which Vietnam veterans served in country.
While “In Country: Stories from the Vietnam War” illuminates a select group of VHP collections, centered on a particular theme, our second research tool provides users with the resources to curate their own study/research. The Research Guide “Vietnam War Veterans: Resources in the Veterans History Project” offers search strategies and tools to navigate our Vietnam War-related narratives. In addition to offering an introduction to our digital collection (which launched on a new platform last fall), it brings together many different digital tools for exploring the collection, such as related online presentations, selected finding aids, highlighted blog posts, videos from public programs, and links to quick searches on popular topics.
As a bonus, check out two new videos that offer an inside glimpse into the John Stavast collection, which is featured in the online presentation. The videos can be accessed through the Library’s YouTube Channel and Instagram account.