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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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  1. What is the Veterans History Project?

    The Veterans History Project (VHP) collects and preserves the remembrances of American war veterans and civilian workers who supported them. These collections of first-hand accounts are archived in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress for use by researchers and to serve as an inspiration for generations to come. The Project collects remembrances of veterans who served in World War I, World War II, the Cold War, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War (1990-1995), or Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts (2001-present). U.S. citizen civilians who actively supported war efforts (such as war industry workers, USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers, defense contractors, etc.) are also invited to share their valuable stories. VHP relies on volunteers throughout the nation to collect veterans’ stories on behalf of the Library of Congress. These stories are made available to researchers and the general public, both at the Library in Washington, D.C., and via the VHP website.
  2. How did the Veterans History Project start?

    The United States Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000. The authorizing legislation (Public Law 106-380), sponsored by Representatives Ron Kind, Amo Houghton, and Steny Hoyer in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senators Max Cleland and Chuck Hagel in the U.S. Senate, received unanimous support and was signed into law by President William Jefferson Clinton on October 27, 2000.
  3. How is the Veterans History Project connected to the Ken Burns’ PBS documentary The War?

    In April 2007, the Library of Congress and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) announced a joint community engagement initiative designed to gather the first-hand recollections of the diverse men and women who served our nation during wartime.  The public outreach campaign will be ongoing beyond the broadcast of Ken Burns’ new film, THE WAR, which is scheduled to air on PBS beginning on September 23, 2007. THE WAR reiterates the Library of Congress’ message to the American people: help us build the historic record by interviewing a veteran in your family or community.

    Please note: while THE WAR depicts the impact of World War II on the entire country, and profiles both civilians and service men and women, the Veterans History Project focuses on the experiences of veterans of the United States military (during many different conflicts) and civilians who worked in support of the war effort, such as USO workers and Rosie the Riveters. Please see our description of what What We Collect for more information.
  4. How is the Veterans History Project different from the National World War II Memorial's Registry of Remembrances?

    The Veterans History Project is a collection development project of the Library of Congress whereas the National WWII Memorial Registry of Remembrances is “an individual listing of Americans who contributed to the war effort.” Their names and service information are maintained by the American Battle Monument Commission as a part of the National World War II Memorial located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. For the National WWII Memorial Registry of Remembrances go to: www.wwiimemorial.com

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  1. How can I get a copy of the Project Kit?
    View and print the The Field Kit (for interviews) and Memoir Guidelines on our Web site. You may also order a printed version by sending email to vohp@loc.gov or by calling 888-371-5848 (please allow 2 to 4 weeks for delivery).
  2. I am a veteran.  How can I be interviewed?

    While the Veterans History Project does not conduct interviews, you may interview yourself, or have a friend or relative do it. Our Field Kit contains tools to help you with the interview process. Many of our partner organizations conduct interviews. Check our List of Official Partners to locate a partner near you. You may also recount your experiences in a written memoir of at least 20 pages. Our Memoir Guidelines offer information on how to create a written record of your memories.
  3. How can I interview a veteran?  What questions should I ask?  How should I set up the interview?

    Our Field Kit contains tips and tools you need to conduct the best possible interview of a veteran. If you don’t know a veteran personally, you may locate a willing participant at a local veterans service organization or a Veterans Affairs facility or a senior center or retirement community.
  4. Do I have to register my collection online for it to be included in the VHP collections? How does the online registration process work?

    Registering your collection will greatly expedite your collection’s accessibility to researchers. Our Registration Page will guide you through this very simple process.
  5. Is there a deadline for participating in the Project?

    No. The Project is ongoing and continues to be supported by Congress.
  6. Is there a deadline for submitting materials to the Project?

    Because veterans are eager to have their interviews placed in the Library of Congress permanent collections, we encourage volunteer interviewers to submit materials as soon as the interview and related paperwork is completed. Please do not forget to make a copy of the interview for the veteran.
  7. Is the Veterans History Project only collecting oral histories?

    No. We collect personal narratives from wartime veterans and those who supported them. These stories may be recorded with a video camera or an audio tape recorder; however, they may also be typewritten (preferably a minimum of 20 pages). We also accept original collections of diaries, letters, maps, home movies, and photographs. Please see What We Accept for more information.
  8. Is the Veterans History Project only interested in World War II?

    No. The Project collects first-hand accounts of US veterans who served in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War (1990-1995), or Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts (2001-present). U.S. citizen civilians who actively supported war efforts (such as war industry workers, USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers, defense contractors, etc.) are also invited to share their valuable stories. Please see What We Collect for more information.

    The Project greatly values and appreciates veterans' stories from additional combat areas; those collected will be processed as resources allow. Additionally, if you have materials or oral histories that fall outside the above-stated areas, please review this list of related repositories that also collect and preserve veterans' materials.
  9. I'm not a military veteran, but I contributed to the war effort as a civilian. Do you want my story?

    The Veterans History Project welcomes stories and materials from the home front as well as from the battlefield. A wartime veteran or U.S. citizen civilian who was professionally involved in supporting war efforts (such as war industry workers, USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers, defense contractors, etc.) has a story in which we are interested.
  10. Should I submit electronic versions of documents and photos as well as printed versions? What electronic formats are preferred?

    If you have documents in electronic formats as well as on paper, please submit both. Please include a "hard copy" of photographic images: preferably original photos or if necessary high-quality, clear prints on photographic or bond paper. This ensures the clarity of images and makes the items more useful to researchers. Please do not send photocopies.

    Textual documents should be saved as either plain text (.txt or .rtf file extensions) or other commonly available formats including Microsoft Word or WordPerfect formats. PDF files as well as TIFF, JPEG, and GIF formats are also acceptable.
  11. My father was a veteran, but he has passed away. Can he be included or can I be interviewed on his behalf? Also, I have a number of photographs that he took during his time in the service, as well as a memoir that he wrote about his experiences. Can I donate these items to the Veterans History Project?

    The Veterans History Project accepts original photographs, memoirs, diaries, correspondence, etc. “on behalf of” veterans who are deceased. However, we cannot accept second-hand interviews or written memories of a veteran. Please see What We Accept for more information.
  12. I have a Website with my story of service - can I just send you the URL?

    No. Please send "hard copies" of any text or photos (an electronic copy on disk may accompany the paper copies). By donating hard copies of materials, you create a physical archival collection that will become a permanent part of the Library of Congress. Originals of any photos or illustrations are also acceptable.

    Providing the "raw" text and photos versus printing a copy of the Web pages ensures preservation of the story separate from the Web site, which may not always be available or accessible (URLs and web hosting frequently change). It also allows researchers to focus on the story without any additional formatting or extra links on the site.
  13. What recording formats does the Veterans History Project accept? Are audio or video recordings preferred?

    Most audio and video recording formats are accepted (including but not limited to standard audio cassettes, VHS videos, Hi-8/8mm, digital video and DVD-R recordings). Do not use microcassettes for audio interviews as they pose significant challenges to long-term preservation and the sound quality of an interview.

    If both audio and visual recording equipment is available to you, please keep in mind that visual recordings capture the interviewee's facial expressions, body language, and can be used to film photos and documents in addition to capturing the words alone. Regardless of the recording format, please use the highest-quality recording equipment available to you. Please see our Interviewing and Recording Guidelines for more information.
  14. What does the Veterans History Project NOT collect?

    The Project cannot accept 3-dimensional artifacts, such as medals, canteens, dog tags, helmets, uniforms, etc, or published unit histories. Please see What We Accept for more information. Also, see a list of related repositories that accept artifact donations.
  15. I am a solo interviewer, or work with a small group, and have no extra funds to cover costs (blank audio or videotape, recording equipment, traveling to vets’ homes, etc.). Can you help?

    The Veterans History Project cannot provide funds, only interviewing guidelines. However, here are ways our other volunteer participants have found operating cash and supplies.
    1) Write a brief proposal of your plan—and how it benefits the community—for a local merchant or big chain store in your area or a service club like Rotary. Some stores can provide in-kind items such as blank audio or videotape, or recording equipment. Others have a small bank account for local good deeds like yours. Your promise to publicly thank the store or club can work wonders.
    2) Seek funding from state humanities councils or foundations of private corporations. First, see what the criteria for funding are and what sort of proposal you need to prepare.
    3) Large organizations with long-term goals can seek major grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and other entitles. But their lead-time is long, and there is a great deal of paperwork required.
    4) Partner with a local organization, such as a cable channel, that can share the costs or donate supplies.
    5) Hold a bake sale, car wash, rummage sale, or spaghetti dinner that highlights veterans; this involves the community and can be fun.
  16. What role do Partner Archives play in the Veterans History Project?

    Partner Archives are official Veterans History Project partner organizations that also serve as repositories for the interviews and materials they collect under the aegis of the Project. They help accomplish the goal of providing open public access to collection materials at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. and also around the country.

    As of July 2007, the Veterans History Project requires that all new partner repositories submit high-quality duplicates of their collections along with the appropriate required forms. VHP will note that the originals are retained at the partner organization.

  17. After I send in my materials, may I send more materials at a later time?

    You are always welcome to send additional materials. However, you must include a note or letter indicating your name and that you are sending an addition to an existing collection.
  18. Why do you require the Veteran’s and Interviewer’s release forms? What happens to my collection if they are not included with my submission?

    The Library of Congress requires these forms because they clarify how the Library can use the collection. It also guarantees the veterans’ legal copyright to their materials. Unfortunately, we will return the collection if we do not receive the forms.
  19. In the case of a collection pertaining to a deceased veteran, who can sign the Veteran’s Release Form?

    The veteran’s power of attorney, estate executor, or family member with legal ownership can sign the form.
  20. Does the Veterans History Project verify the stories it receives?

    The Library of Congress does not verify the accuracy of these accounts. The opinions expressed in the interviews are those of the interviewee only and are made available to the public with his or her expressed consent. An individual who questions the validity of a claim or narrative has the right to pursue the Freedom of Information Act and inform the Veterans History Project of the results.
  21. Why do you recommend commercial carriers?

    Due to security concerns, the Library of Congress experiences delays receiving mail. To avoid delays, please use FEDEX, UPS, DHL, or another commercial carrier service when submitting interviews and materials to the Veterans History Project. Overnight or expedited service is not necessary.

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Research and Access

  1. What happens to the material once it is received? How will my collection be used?

    Your collection will be added to the Veterans History Project's archives. Once it is processed and housed in a preservation environment, the veteran's service history information will be available online in our online database and the interview (or other materials) will be available to Congress and researchers who visit the Library of Congress.

    Prospective researchers may review collections by obtaining a Library of Congress Reader Registration Card and visiting the American Folklife Center Reading Room at the Library. Some collections are also used by the Library of Congress for presentations and events promoting the Veterans History Project.

    For research and preservation purposes, we ask that you send original recordings, photographs, and other materials. Please make any copies you wish to retain for yourself before submitting your original recording, photographs, or written materials to the Veterans History Project.
  2. How can I conduct research or view Veterans History Project collections?

    The Project staff is always glad to work with researchers and those interested in reviewing the collections, though we need a week’s notice to prepare collections for use before a researcher can review them. Please contact us at vohp@loc.gov or (202) 707-4916 before your visit so that we may explore your research topics and help you identify collections of interest. You may use the online database to conduct basic searches for lists of veterans and civilians by war, branch of service, or alphabetically.

    Please take a moment to review the important information for prospective researchers/visitors on our research information page.
  3. What may I search for using the Veterans History Project’s online database?

    You may conduct searches on the VHP online database using different criteria including: name of veteran/civilian, name of interviewer/donor, war, branch of service, unit of service (such as battalion, regiment, ship, etc.), medals, and service locations.

    Links to selected digitized collections are included when applicable. Only 5% of the collections in the Veterans History Project can be viewed in their entirety online. If the collection link does not say “view digital collection” then it is not available for online viewing and you will need to schedule an appointment to view the materials.
  4. What information is made public on the Veterans History Project online database?

    The information that will appear on the online Veterans History Project database are the name, date and place of birth, and service history information as it is given on the Biographical Data Form. Please review the database at http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/html/search/search.html for examples.

    In addition, researchers who visit the Library and use a collection for research will have access to the collection materials only and not the forms. If a patron ever needs to contact a veteran (for copyright permission, for example), only the veteran's mailing address is given, rather than a phone number or email address, in order to protect the veteran’s privacy.

    When you donate a collection, please protect your privacy by not labeling such items as tapes, memoirs, and photographs with personal mailing labels or social security numbers. Such labeling is generally not censored on collection materials, as this would compromise the integrity of the materials.
  5. When will my name appear on the Veterans History Project online database?

    Whether you participate in the Veterans History Project as the donor, interviewer, or veteran, please allow the VHP staff time to properly preserve, house, and catalog collection materials (presently about 6 -8 months from the time materials are received). Information contained in the database is based on participants' own reporting of their service history (through the Biographical Information Form).
  6. Will my collection be digitized and presented online?

    Currently, only 5% of the Veterans History Project’s collections are being fully digitized (that is, so that the complete interview, memoir, photo collection, etc, is viewable online). Resources do not allow for every collection to be digitized. A regular program is underway to digitize those items most at-risk for preservation purposes, and for curated presentations.
  7. I have sent in my name and collections material, but I am not included in the online list. Why?

    In most cases, this is for one of two reasons:

    First, if your materials were sent to the Veterans History Project, please allow the VHP staff time to properly preserve, house, and catalog collection materials. Presently, it takes about 6-8 months from the time materials are received before your name will appear online. You may contact us at vohp@loc.gov with questions about materials sent to VHP.

    Second, did you send information to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress, or have you sent information to the National WWII Memorial’s Registry of Remembrances? The Memorial's registry is not the same as the Veterans History Project; therefore, the VHP does not have any access to or control over information sent to the Memorial for their Registry. You may search their online registry or contact them at custsvc@wwiimemorial.com or 1-800-639-4992.
  8. I have participated in the National WWII Memorial's Registry of Remembrances. Can I view the information through the VHP online database?

    No. The National WWII Memorial’s registry is not connected to the Veterans History Project in any way.

    If you submitted your service information to the National WWII Memorial, please search the Registry of Remembrances on the Web. Please contact them at custsvc@wwiimemorial.com or 1-800-639-4992 if you have questions about their organization or their Registry.
  9. How can I obtain a copy of an interview or a collection?

    Please make a copy of any collection you submit before sending it to the Library of Congress. Resources do not permit us to make gratis copies of oral histories in the Veterans History Project Collection. The Library of Congress has established procedures for obtaining copies of all of its collection materials for a fee. Information about the request process and current associated fees is available online at http://www.loc.gov/folklife/recordering.html.

    Please note that in order for the Veterans History Project to release the original recording for duplication, we must receive from the interviewee and interviewer(s) written letters stating their permission for you to copy the recording. This protects the rights of the interviewee and interviewer, and is especially important if you plan to use the recording for publication.

    Because the Veterans History Project encourages participants to keep copies of interviews locally in addition to sending originals to the Library of Congress, you may also wish to contact the interviewee directly to see if he or she has a copy from which you may make a copy for yourself.

    You are always welcome to review collections in person by visiting the American Folklife Center Reading Room (view information about arranging a visit). Photocopies of manuscript material and photographs can be made in the Reading Room. The Library also has a Photoduplication Service if you are interested in high-quality photo copies. Please note that the express, written permission of the interviewee and/or donor may be required for high-quality photo duplication and any subsequent publication or use of these materials.

    If you are submitting materials to the Project, please make any copies you wish to retain for yourself before submitting your recording, photographs, or written materials to the Veterans History Project.

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For Educators

  1. I am a teacher and want to get my students involved in this Project. How do I start?

    The Veterans History Project encourages participation from high school and college students. Our Especially for Students section of our Web site offers all of the details that you will need to get started with the VHP. While we value youth participation, we are unable to accept classrooms as official partners. However, schools that collect and submit interviews will be searchable on the database.
  2. How do I/we find veterans to interview?

    Many of our student participants choose to interview friends or family members that have served in the military. You can also find veterans to interview by contacting area branches of Veteran Service Organizations (such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, etc.), Department of Veterans Affairs local facilities, and the AARP.
  3. What is the minimum age/grade level appropriate for participation in VHP?

    We ask that students be in grades 10-12 or higher. We have found that younger students, while enthusiastic about the Project, often lack the maturity and skills to conduct an effective interview of an adult who may be discussing sensitive and disturbing experiences.
  4. When my students submit the interviews, can we put them on one DVD/CD?

    No. Please submit a distinct, separate recording for each individual veteran.
  5. I have recordings of veterans who spoke to my class or who were interviewed by my students. Do you want them?

    While we understand the value of these recordings, we cannot accession them into our collections unless they are accompanied by the necessary VHP Biographical Information Form and interviewee and interviewer release forms. Thus, we cannot accept “vintage” interviews such as these.

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  1. How can I obtain my military service records?

    The Veterans History Project does not hold any veterans’ records.  To request replacement records you need to contact the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR) in St. Louis.  View instructions for requesting replacement records.
  2. How can I obtain a list of medals and decorations to which I am entitled?

    You will need to contact the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR) in St. Louis.
  3. How can I locate someone I served with?

    We cannot release personal information about a veteran, due to numerous privacy laws.  The Department of Veterans Affairs and certain military branches may be able forward your contact information or message to veterans or active service personnel. Some Veterans’ Service Organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion maintain reunion listings, member directories and locator services.
  4. How can I receive information on veterans’ benefits?

    You can find more information about veterans’ benefits by visiting the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site.

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  November 9, 2007
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