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AFS Has a Long-Standing, Ongoing Relationship with the Veterans History Project

Monday, April 24, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Tim Lloyd
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Did you know about AFS's involvement in the Veterans History Project?

In October 2000, the US Congress passed Public Law 106-380, which established and funded a Veterans History Project (VHP) in the Library of Congress that would, according to the VHP web site (www.loc.gov/vets), “collect, preserve, and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans [from World War I to the present] so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.”

The next year, the VHP contracted with the American Folklore Society to provide experienced folklorists and oral historians to lead workshops for community groups of all kinds throughout the country that would teach the basic communication and technical skills for interviewing US war veterans and documenting their personal experience narratives and oral histories of wartime. The Oral History Association joined us in the management of this partnership in 2013. Since the first VHP workshop took place in August 2002, we have offered just under 400 workshops for some 9,000 participants in 40 of the 50 states, as well as the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands and the District of Columbia.

These workshops have taken place in a variety of locations, including libraries, schools, universities, American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars halls, Veterans Administration facilities, city halls, retirement communities, museums, Native American tribal and reservation headquarters, local offices of Members of Congress, and—since AARP was the founding corporate sponsor—AARP state and local chapter offices. Through our accumulated experience in this effort, AFS and OHA have been able to design, test, and refine a “core curriculum” for the basics of ethnographic interviewing that can effectively be conveyed in a 3-5-hour workshop.

For the AFS and OHA and our members, participation in this project has brought a number of continuing benefits:

  • It has contributed to ongoing conversations in our fields about ethnographic best practices.
  • It has strengthened our partnership with the Library of Congress and in particular its American Folklife Center, the home of the VHP.
  • It has put modest workshop-leader stipends into the pockets of those university scholars and public humanists who have led workshops, and has provided modest net income to our societies for managing this initiative.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it has offered several hundred opportunities for folklorists and oral historians to demonstrate that some of the core approaches and methodologies of our fields are relevant to the interests and pursuits of citizens across the country.

For more information about AFS's VHP work, or to inquire about being added to our list of workshop leaders, please contact Tim Lloyd at timlloyd@indiana.edu.



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American Folklore SocietySister Society: SIEF
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