Friday, November 10, 2006

Veterans' History Project at the Library of Congress

In time for Veterans' Day Weekend, check out the Veterans' History Project at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. It's a wide-ranging effort to gather first-hand records--ephemera, interviews, images, etc.--from all US veterans and others (USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers), involved in any 20th-century conflict. They're seeking donations and they offer a Field Kit for anyone who wants to conduct an oral-history interview to add to the project's holdings.

What's already online is searchable, and full of disability history stories. For example: There's a transcribed interview with Robert Del Malak (b. 1946), a Vietnam-era veteran; he was in the Navy for a year when he began to experience vision loss from macular degeneration, and was discharged. George Baxter (b. 1930) lost a leg in Korea--his photo (shown at left) and audio of an interview with Baxter are on the site now. There's also a photo album and audio of an interview with Charles Amsler (b. 1913), a WWII medical corpsman who lost a leg to bone cancer in 1948. Wendy Wamsley Taines (b. 1971) describes her PTSD from service as a medic in the Persian Gulf War, in an audio interview at the site.

These are just collections with online content. There's much, much more in the project's archives. Go have a search around--it's incredibly varied content, and the collection is still growing.