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Collection Veterans History Project Collection

Searching the Collection

In November 2022, the Veterans History Project migrated our online collections database to the new platform found here. This migration entailed transforming our legacy database—in use for 20 years!—and is an evolving process. Here, we offer basic information on searching the collection as it appears in this new format. More resources on search strategies will be available as we develop them.

Veterans History Project (VHP) Collection Records

VHP organizes all materials associated with an individual veteran’s experience into a collection named after the veteran whose experiences it reflects (e.g., Tracy A. Sugarman Collection). The format assigned by the Library of Congress to these collection records is “Personal Narrative.”

Each collection is assigned a unique collection ID number, which is used by VHP staff to organize collections so that researchers can access them in the future. The general format for a VHP collection number is AFC/2001/001/#####, where the last five or six digits are the unique collection ID number. This VHP collection number is also reflected in the URL of the veteran’s online record (e.g., https://loc.gov/item/afc2001001.05440/)

VHP Collection Information Online

Every VHP collection, whether it contains digitized content or not, has a descriptive record online. Each descriptive record lists biographical and military service details provided by the veteran or donor and information about the contents of their collection.

Some collections also include digitized content (such as an oral history interview) that is available online. At this time, not all VHP collections contain digital content that can be viewed online. For more information about VHP materials available online, please see “Using VHP Collections."

Searching the Collection

To begin searching, select the “Collection Items” tab.

Here you can search for an individual veteran by name, find veterans who served in particular units or service locations, or browse collections contributed by an organization.

There are several ways to search the Veterans History Project Collection.

Simple Keyword Search

You can enter a name or phrase (such as a military service unit) into the search box at the very top of the screen, next to the magnifying glass icon. This will generate search results matching your keyword(s).

Screenshot showing the location of the Keyword Search box for the Veterans History Project collection.

Note that if you want search again, and are viewing an individual VHP collection, you will need to first use your browser’s back button to return to your search results, and then type a new keyword or phrase into the search box above. Alternatively, to limit your search to only VHP collections, select “Personal Narratives” from the drop-down menu next to the search box at the top of the page before searching again (the format “Personal Narratives” is unique to VHP collections).

Advanced Search

For more complex searches, you can select the plus sign next to the “Advanced Search.” From there, you can select from multiple drop-down menus to limit your search to particular fields (e.g., “War or Conflict,” “Service Location,” etc.).

For example, to search for African-American women veterans who served in France during World War II, you would select the pertinent values from the “Service Location,” “Conflict,” “Gender,” and “Race” drop-down menus, and then select the blue “Search” button immediately below.

Screenshot showing the Advanced Search screen and options for the Veterans History Project collection.

Using Facets to Narrow Down Search Results

If your search results in too many items, you can use the facets on the left-hand side of the screen to further refine the results. For example, if you search for veterans who served in the “Battle of the Bulge,” it yields thousands of collections. You can use the facets on the left to limit the search to only those VHP collections with online content by clicking the “Available Online” facet, to those veterans who served in both the “Battle of the Bulge” and the “D-Day Normandy Invasion,” to those who were captured as “Prisoners of War”—or to any number of other categories.

Screenshot showing the the location of the facets for refining search results for the Veterans History Project collection.

Whether you start with a simple keyword search, or apply limits to your search using the “Advanced Search” option, you will find rich resources in the VHP collections. For guided exploration, we recommend starting with our curated/thematic guides like Serving: Our Voices (Stories from the Veterans History Project), Research Guides, and Story Maps.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need assistance.