November 9, 2000
Press contact: Craig D'Ooge, Library of Congress (202)
Public contact: Veterans History Project (888) 371-5848
Congress Establishes Veterans' Oral History Project in American
Folklife Center at the Library of Congress
On Veterans' Day, the American
Folklife Center at the Library of Congress will launch a program
to collect and preserve the personal experience stories and oral
histories of America's war veterans and make selections available
to the public over the Internet.
The Veterans' Oral History Project encourages war veterans, their
families, veterans groups, communities, and students to audio-
and video-tape the memories of veterans' time in service.
Beginning on November 11, the Center will initiate the planning
phase of the project. Guidelines to assist the public in conducting
local documentation will be developed by December. The Library
will create a network of partnerships
throughout the United States to encourage affiliated organizations,
community groups, and individuals to collect these recollections
and firsthand accounts.
"Collecting the oral histories of American veterans is a
critical task in preserving our history and an urgent need as
we enter the 21st century. These histories will be an invaluable
resource for future generations and will become part of the nation's
vast historical record that the Library of Congress has preserved
for 200 years," said Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington.
The Veterans' Oral History Project was authorized by enactment
Law 106-380, signed into law by President Clinton on October
27. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Ron Kind and Rep. Amo
Houghton, in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Sen. Max Cleland
and Sen. Charles Hagel, in the U.S. Senate, and received broad
More than 19 million war veterans are living in the United States
today (including 3,400 from World War I and 6 million from World
War II), but almost 1,500 die each day.
"The American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress
will preserve these folk histories of our everyday war heroes
from every corner of the nation and offer selections from their
stories back to the American people over the Internet," said
the Center's director, Dr. Peggy Bulger. The American Folklife
Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library
of Congress to preserve and present American folklife through
programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference
service, live performance, exhibition, public programs, and training.
The Center incorporates the Archive of Folk Culture, which was
established in the Library in 1928 and is now one of the largest
collections of ethnographic material from the United States and
around the world.
The collections include the earliest field recordings made anywhere
in the world (wax cylinder recordings of Passamaquoddy Indians
in Maine from 1890), ex-slave narratives, folk music collected
by John and Alan Lomax in the 1930s and '40s, original recordings
of legends such as Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly, the work of Zora
Neale Hurston, and the documentary record of more than 1,000 community
heritage events and festivals that were designated "Local
Legacies" by members of Congress as part of the celebration
this year of the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Library
Further information about the Veterans' Oral History Project
is available at the American Folklife Center's Web site: www.loc.gov/vets/
or at (888) 371-5848.
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