Stories of American Veterans

Veteran's History ProjectThe United States Library of Congress in Washington, D. C. helps preserve much of the written and spoken words by Americans over the decades. It is an ongoing process and that was the reason the U. S. Congress authorized the creation of the Veterans History Project, which is part of the American Folklore Center at the Library of Congress.

The aim of the Veterans History Project (VHP) is to gather and preserve the remembrances of America’s veterans and the numerous civilian workers who served during times of war and conflicts since World War I, 1917. It is the valuable first-person accounts of veterans and civilians that serve as the best source of information for future generations.

Gathered from across the United States are individuals who took the time to verbally or in written form recollect their experiences. Many cases it was a family member, friend or community citizen who interviewed the veteran.

The VHP provides for those interested in contributing to the project guidelines and a kit to direct the interviewing, writing and collecting of photos, letters, diaries and documents. There is also a Biographical Data and Veteran’s Release forms to be completed.

The different methods of contributing stories include by video; using a digital video camera, on DVD, on MPEG-2 or Hi-8/8mm. A verbal interview can be on a standard audio cassette or on a CD. In written form the memoirs, about 20 pages, would be double-spaced typed in Microsoft Word or WordPerfect and placed in PDF format or in plain text (txt file). A printed hard copy of the memoirs needs to be included also. The originals of diaries, military documents and letters can be accepted, but not copies of those items. There needs to be a separate digital video, cassette, or written document for each veteran.

When the memoirs are complete they can be sent to the American Folklore Center of the Library of Congress as part of the permanent collection. They can also be made digital by the contributors so it can be accessible to researchers online at the VHP site.

Besides the those who served in the military from World War I to the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict, those in the civilian sector include USO workers, medical workers, workers in military industries and those who watched the coastlines.

Anything submitted has to be original, including stories from the veteran. If the person is no longer living, a family member can not tell the veteran’s story. If the veteran had letters, journal or diary they wrote, those original materials can become part of the VHP collection.

There is presently an online search site to view some 5,000 veteran’s stories already submitted. The VHP at the Library of Congress has some 60,000 stories altogether. For researchers this online site will grow over the years and prove to be a very valuable asset.

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