March 17, 2003 Women's History Relived, Preserved Through the Veterans History Project
Library of Congress Collection Expanding, All Branches, All Ranks
Contact: Anneliesa Clump (202) 707-9822; Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940
The Library of Congress asks that women veterans and women who served in support of wartime efforts participate in the American Folklife Center's Veterans History Project by sharing their stories during Women's History Month this March.
Women represent approximately one-quarter of the expanding Veterans History Project collection that now comprises more than 20,000 items consisting of photographs, journals, letters and interviews. Women who served on the home front during World War II and those who served in the groundbreaking women's service divisions-such as WAVES, WAAC, WASP, and SPARS-are coming forward to share their stories so that they may be preserved at the Library of Congress for all time.
Dorothy Walters Cutts became one of the first members of the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) in November 1942. During Cutt's recent interview with an Eagle Scout at the Alabama Veteran's Memorial Museum, she recalled that World War II was the "only time in my life that I wished I had been a man." Cutts was proud to enlist and described the first uniforms issued to her and the other women recruits as "men's heavy wool overcoats and cardboard nametags." After the war ended, Cutts signed up for the Army Reserves and eventually, in her words, "received a greeting from Uncle Sam" to serve in the Korean War as an Army nurse.
"We invite all women veterans and civilians to share their stories. The collection is expanding to include women veterans of all service branches, the Rosie-the-Riveters and those who have reached officer ranks," said Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, director of the Veterans History Project. "Women often serve as 'the family archivist,' saving letters and preserving memorabilia. We welcome the addition of wartime letters, photographs and memoirs to supplement veterans' interviews," Lovell added.
Rhona Marie Prescott spoke into a microphone at the Flagler County (Fla.) Library to record her experience as an Army nurse during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. "Yes, I wanted to go out in the field," recounted Prescott. She was assigned to a camp in the mountains of Vietnam. There she served as acting chief nurse and remembered the hospital, a series of big green tents, as "beyond primitive ... it was beyond the 'MASH' movie and TV show." Her audiocassette is now part of the collection.
Patricia Seawalt, Persian Gulf War veteran, served in the 101st Airborne. Seawalt submitted to the Veterans History Project collection a series of letters and photographs documenting her experience of Army life in the desert. Prior to her service in the Persian Gulf, she served for 13 years in the Air Force and Army reserves and was named a "Soldier of the Year" in 1982.
Individuals, family members, veterans, civic groups and organizations that are willing to interview veterans are invited to contact the Veterans History Project, whose staff will provide guidance and information. The resulting audio or videotaped interviews and related documentary materials that are collected are preserved at the Library of Congress as part of the permanent record of the nation=s history. In addition to AARP, the founding sponsor, more than 570 organizations, including the Society of American Archivists, American Library Association, American Red Cross, Daughters of the American Revolution, WAVES National, and Women's Overseas Service League participate in the project.
Those who are interested in participating are encouraged to call toll-free (888) 371-5848 or e-mail the office at [email protected] to request a project kit. The kit is also available on the Veterans History Project Web site at www.loc.gov/vets.
Note to Editors: If you would like more information on women veterans from your community who have already participated in the Veterans History Project, contact Anneliesa Clump at (202) 707-9822.