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1. What is the Veterans History Project?
The Veterans History Project (VHP) of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center collects and preserves the firsthand interviews and narratives of United States military veterans from World War I through the present. In addition to audio- and video-recorded oral history interviews, VHP accepts memoirs and collections of original photographs, letters, diaries, maps and other historical documents from veterans who served in the US armed services from World War I through the present. The Project makes accessible the materials that comprise this important national archive, which contains submissions from every state, and includes the US territories. VHP relies on volunteers, both individuals and organizations, throughout the nation to contribute veterans’ stories to VHP.
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 U.S. Representatives Ron Kind, Amo Houghton and Steny Hoyer and U.S. Senators Max Cleland and Chuck Hagel, received unanimous support and was signed into law by President William Jefferson Clinton on October 27, 2000.
3. How can I be interviewed?
4. I'm not a military veteran, but I contributed to the war effort as a civilian. Do you want my story?
Yes! The Veterans History Project collects stories and materials from the homefront as well as from the battlefield. Any wartime veteran or U.S. citizen civilian who was actively involved in supporting war efforts (such as war industry workers, USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers, etc.) has a story in which we are interested.
5. Who retains copyright of donated collections?
All Veterans History Project participants (both interviewees and interviewers) retain the copyright to their materials. As a publicly supported institution, the Library of Congress generally does not own rights to material in its collections. Permissions need to be obtained before using the interview or other materials in exhibition or publication.
6. What is the Gold Star Families Voices Act?
The 2016 Gold Star Families Voice Act (Public Law 114-246) expanded the original scope of the Veterans History Project to also include oral histories by immediate family members (parent, spouse, sibling, or child) of “members of the Armed Forces who died as a result of their service during a period of war.” Due to the sensitive nature of the Gold Star oral histories, the Veterans History Project requires a minimum age of 18 for both the interviewers and the interviewees.
7. Who is eligible to submit their service story to the Veterans History Project (VHP)?
Veterans who served in the U.S. military, in any capacity, from WWI to the present, regardless of branch or rank, and are no longer serving are eligible. VHP accepts the stories of veterans as defined by the Department of Veterans Affairs: “A person who served in the active military service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.”
8. Can I share the story of a deceased veteran?
9. Am I allowed to submit my interview to another repository, such as a local historical society?
10. What paperwork do you require, and why?
The Library of Congress requires the following forms in order to clarify how the Library can use the collection and facilitate access for researchers. It also guarantees the veterans’ legal copyright to their materials. The Veterans History Project (VHP) will return collections to the contributor if they do not include the required VHP forms. Please see the VHP Field Kit for additional information.
11. Am I required to provide my race or other demographic information?
No. Providing demographic information is optional; however, when you self-identify, you help our researchers locate collections that may be of specific interest, as well as allow the Veterans History Project to highlight the rich diversity found in our collections.
12. How do I safeguard private or classified information?
When you donate a collection, please protect your privacy. DO NOT label DVDs, CDs, tapes, memoirs, photographs or other materials with personal mailing labels, military identification numbers or social security numbers. In addition, private information (e.g., social security numbers, etc.) should be removed from all collection material (e.g., military papers such as the DD-214) prior to submission. Interviewers should not ask for private information from the veteran during the interview, such as their home address, military identification number or social security number. All Veterans History Project (VHP) required forms (e.g., Biographical Data Form, Veteran’s Release Form, etc.) are kept on file and not made available to the public or researchers unless they are in redacted form.