Veterans History Project

I believe we owe an enormous debt to our men and women in uniform.  A great way to show our gratitude is to encourage them to share their memories and experiences. This is why in 2000, I authored legislation creating the Veterans History Project (VHP). The VHP allows veterans and their families to record their stories and preserve them for future generations. These recordings are entered into the permanent collection in the Library of Congress, where they will serve as a permanent reminder of the sacrifices these men and women made defending our country.    

The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. You can search the database where more than 80,000 stories have been collected. Over 10,000 of those stories have also been digitized and are accessbile online.
The Project collects first-hand accounts of U.S. Veterans from the following wars:

Ron interviews 91-year old Bob Garber of Prescott for the Veterans History Project. Bob worked at Oak Ridge on the Manhattan Project.

    World War I (1914-1920)
    World War II (1939-1946)
    Korean War (1950-1955)
    Vietnam War (1961-1975)
    Persian Gulf War (1990-1995)
    Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts (2001-present)

In addition, those U.S. citizen civilians who were actively involved in supporting war efforts (such as war industry workers, USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers, etc.) are also invited to share their valuable stories.
The Veteran’s History Project has collected nearly 80,000 stories and testimonials to date but there are more stories to be told. I urge you to take the time to not only thank our veterans and remember our country’s fallen soldiers, but also to ask the veterans in your life to record their stories. They serve as the most significant memorial we can possibly give to our nation’s fallen and living veterans.

Recording your Story

More and more veterans are returning home every day. Recording your story or the story of a friend or family member is easy. All you need is a video camera or recorder. In fact, veterans are also welcome to submit personal manuscripts and drawings. All interviews must also be at least 30 minutes in length and documents a specific number of pages.

Click here to see exactly what the Library of Congress accepts.

First step is to register using an online form. Next, print out the VHP Field Kit, which also includes forms to submit. You can then prepare for and conduct your interview. Lastly, send your collection to the Library of Congress, but make sure to keep a copy for yourself!   

Students and VHP

The Veterans History Project is a great opportunity for students at the high school and college level, as well as for scout troops and service groups, to get involved in the community. Sample materials and guidelines for student and youth participation can be found here.

In fact, an entire curriculum has been developed to help incororate VHP into the classroom. For more information, visit the VHP website or contact my office.

Leah Lechleiter-Luke, an English teacher in Mauston, incorporated the Veterans History Project into her classroom by having at-risk students in her applied writing and American History classes conduct interviews. To-date, her classes have gathered and submitted nearly 35 stories to the Library of Congress. She has also teamed up with the Juneau County Historical Society.

"I cannot say enough positive things about this excellent program. Interviewing local veterans added a depth to our curriculum that could not have been achieved otherwise. Attendance increased on the days we worked with the vets and the output and quality of work definitely increased with these normally low-performing students. It was a win-win project."  - Leah Lechleiter-Luke, Spanish/English Teacher & Key Club Advisor, Mauston,  2010 Wisconsin Teacher of the Year

VHP Partners

The Veterans History Project needs volunteers! Community organizations, veterans organizations, and service groups, among others, make great partners. My office is currently working with local historical societies, public libraries and schools to find additional partners to ensure the collection of stories and project success for years to come. If you are intersted in becoming a partner, please contact my office at 608-782-2558.

Current partners include:

  • University of Wisconsin - La Crosse Communications Department
  • La Crosse Public Library
  • DeLong Middle School - Eau Claire
  • William Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital - Madison

For a list of current partners in other parts of Wisconsin, click here.