A version of this post was published on “The Library of Congress” blog, July 1, 2016.
One of the many joys of working at the Veterans History Project (VHP) is discovering all of the out-of-the-box ways researchers find to use the collections. VHP’s congressional mandate is to collect, preserve and make accessible the war stories of America’s veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. It is the “make accessible” part of the mission that I find particularly fascinating, because as soon as that phase is complete, it is the individual research interests that inform what happens next. The researchers who access VHP collections are not just historians, authors and documentarians. Sometimes we get inquiries from artists, medical professionals, law firms and performance troops—people and organizations you probably would not assume have an interest in war or veterans’ personal accounts.
One example of an out-of-the-box use of VHP collections comes from none other than Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, the world’s busiest passenger airport, located 650 miles away from our office. Earlier this year, an airport representative tasked with creating a permanent tribute wall to honor the men and women of the United States Armed Forces found exactly what he needed as he perused VHP’s online database. After some strategy meetings with VHP staff and carefully following our Copyright permissions process, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport added 100 photographs from VHP participants’ collections to the tribute wall. How awesome is that? I’d say, very!
The airport unveiled the tribute wall during a public dedication ceremony, Thursday, June 30th, just in time for Independence Day, and an even busier travel season. We are honored to have VHP collections featured in such an inventive way—one that takes our mission to accessibility and beyond.