Local Group Preserves the History of Those Who Served Our Country

Local Group Preserves the History of Those Who Served Our Country

The U.S. Congress created the Veterans History Project (VHP) in 2000 as part of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. In 2007 the Atlantic County (NJ) Historical Society signed a contract with the Library of Congress to perform at least 25 interviews for the VHP annually.

By 2016 a group from that organization, which now includes 10 men and women, completed more than 300 interviews with servicemen and women from all eras and branches of the armed services, as well as those who provided support services on the base or in the field, including USO workers or those who worked in the war industries. And they are interested in talking to anyone else who would like to participate and has a story to tell.

Every interview recorded by the Atlantic County Historical Society is sent to the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project and they are all  preserved within the files of the Atlantic County Historical Society, which is the only organization collecting veterans' data in Atlantic and Cape May Counties. However, anyone visiting from another part of the country can call to set up an appointment to be interviewed for the Veterans History Project.

The interviews can take 30 minutes up to an hour and must be set up in advance by calling 609-646-7355 or 609-927-5218  If there is no answer, please leave a call-back number.. Original photos of the interviewee are solicited and become the property of the Library pf Congress. Those who were in the military are requested to bring a copy of their DD214 with them to the interview.

What I found interesting in reading some of their case files is that they are literally life histories — starting when and where the individual was born, where he or she went to school and worked before entering the service, facts about their time in the service and what they did after the military. In the process, they very often relate how their time in the service affected the rest of their life.

Donated items are housed in a preservation environment within the permanent collections of the Library of Congress. Within a six-month processing period, all donated materials are available to researchers, scholars, students, authors, filmmakers, the Congress and anyone visiting the Library. Some of  the interviews may be available on the Internet, but not all.

Because there are limitations on the time of the interviewers participating in the project, the prime months for the interviews are in February, April, June and September, but other interview times can be arranged.

Beau Weisman, Editor