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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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- What is the Veterans History Project?
The Veterans History Project (VHP) of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center is primarily an oral history program that collects and preserves the first-hand interviews of America's wartime veterans. VHP relies on volunteers, both individuals and organizations, throughout the nation to contribute veterans’ stories to VHP. In addition to audio- and video-recorded interviews, VHP accepts memoirs, collections of original photographs and letters, diaries, maps, and other historical documents from World War I through current conflicts. See more at What We Collect and About the Project.
- 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 Representatives Ron Kind, Amo Houghton,
and Steny Hoyer in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senators
Max Cleland and Chuck Hagel in the U.S. Senate, received unanimous
support and was signed into law by President William Jefferson
Clinton on October 27, 2000.
- How is the Veterans History Project connected
to the Ken Burns’ PBS
documentary The War?
In April 2007, the Library of Congress and Public Broadcasting
Service (PBS) announced a joint community engagement initiative
designed to gather the first-hand recollections of the diverse
men and women who served our nation during wartime. The
public outreach campaign will be ongoing beyond the broadcast
of Ken Burns’ new film, THE WAR, which is scheduled
to air on PBS beginning on September 23, 2007. THE WAR reiterates
the Library of Congress’ message to the American people:
help us build the historic record by interviewing a veteran in
your family or community.
Please note: while THE WAR depicts the impact of World
War II on the entire country, and profiles both civilians and
service men and women, the Veterans History Project focuses on
the experiences of veterans of the United States military (during
many different conflicts) and civilians who worked in support
of the war effort, such as USO workers and Rosie the Riveters.
Please see our description of what What
We Collect for more information.
- Is the Veterans History Project different from the National
World War II Memorial's
Registry of Remembrances?
Yes, they are separate programs. The Veterans History Project is a congressionally mandated program within the Library of Congress American Folklife Center that collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans, and the National WWII Memorial Registry of Remembrances is “an individual listing of Americans who contributed to the war effort.” The National WWII Memorial Registry of Remembrance is not a program of the Library of Congress; it is maintained by the American Battle Monument Commission as a part of the National World War II Memorial located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. For the National WWII Memorial Registry of Remembrances go to: www.wwiimemorial.com
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- How do I start the process of interviewing a veteran? What questions should I ask? How should I set up the interview?
The VHP Field Kit contains all the tips, guidelines, and tools you need to conduct an interview of a veteran. Memoir Guidelines are also on this page.
The Field Kit is available online, but printed versions are available in limited quantities. Order a printed version by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 888-371-5848 (please allow two weeks for delivery).
The VHP Field Kit Companion Video is a fifteen-minute-long video that explains the VHP interview process from beginning to end, including special tips that help VHP Contributors navigate the VHP Field Kit. Download the Companion Video from www.loc.gov/vets (click on the “VHP Field Kit Companion Video” button at the top right of the screen). RealPlayer is required (download RealPlayer software from www.real.com).
Local veterans service organizations, the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, or a senior center or retirement community are good places to locate veterans.
- I am a veteran. How can I be interviewed?
VHP relies on VHP Contributors to record stories of veterans. VHP Contributors include family members and friends of veterans, organizations (e.g., colleges/universities, retirement communities, Dept. of Veterans Affairs, museums, churches, veterans service organizations, and other community groups), or other veterans.
Veterans may also recount their experiences in a written memoir of at least 20 pages.VHP Memoir Guidelines [ PDF: 49KB / 1 page ] offer information on how to create a written record of your memories. PDF documents require the free Adobe Reader.
- How can I interview a veteran? What questions should
I ask? How should I set up the interview?
Kit [PDF: 2.5MB / 16 pages] contains tips and tools you need to conduct the best possible
interview of a veteran. If you don’t know a veteran personally,
you may locate a willing participant at a local veterans service organization
or a Veterans Affairs facility or a senior center or retirement community.
- Do I have to register my collection online for it to
be included in the VHP collections? How does the online registration process
No. While it is optional to register your collection, registering will expedite its accessibility to researchers. The VHP Registration Page will guide you through this quick and simple process. Please note that even if you register your collection online, you must still submit hard copies of the necessary VHP paperwork (e.g., Biographical Data, Veteran’s Release, and Interviewer’s Release Forms).
- Is there a deadline for participating in the Project?
No. The Project is ongoing and continues to be supported by Congress.
- Is there a deadline for submitting materials to the
We encourage VHP Contributors to submit materials as soon as the interview and related paperwork are completed.
Veterans and their families are eager for their interviews to be included in the Library of Congress, and the sooner items are submitted to VHP, the sooner we are able to fully process them into the VHP collection.
The Veterans History Project is ongoing, and there is no deadline.
*Please remember to make two copies of the interview before submitting to the Veterans History Project. Give one copy to the veteran, and keep one for your records. This will ensure the veteran and family have a copy of the interview, and it safeguards the interview from being lost prior to its arrival at VHP. VHP does not have the resources to make copies of interviews in its collections.
- Does the Veterans History Project collect items in addition to or other than oral histories?
No. We collect personal narratives from wartime veterans and those who
supported them. These stories may be recorded with a video camera or an
audio tape recorder; however, they may also be typewritten (preferably
a minimum of 20 pages). We also accept original collections of diaries,
letters, maps, home movies, and photographs. Please see What
We Accept for more information.
- Is the Veterans History Project interested in the stories of veterans from all wars?
The Project collects first-hand accounts of US veterans who served in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War (1990-1995), or Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts (2001-present). The Project will also accept the first-hand recollections of U.S. citizens who professionally supported war efforts (such as war industry workers, USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers, defense contractors, etc.)
VHP's congressional mandate is to collect, preserve, and make accessible the stories of veterans who served during wartime, but VHP greatly values and appreciates the service of veterans who served during "peacetime." Interviews of "peacetime" veterans will be processed as resources allow.
VHP maintains a list of other repositories that also collect and preserve materials that do not fall within VHP's scope. Please see What We Collect for more information.
Please see What
We Collect for more information.
- I'm not a military veteran, but I contributed
to the war effort as a civilian. Do you want my story?
The Veterans History Project will accept stories and materials from U.S. civilians who were professionally involved in supporting war efforts (such as war industry workers, USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers, defense contractors, etc.)
- Should I submit electronic versions of documents
and photos as well as printed versions? What electronic formats
It is not necessary to submit electronic versions of documents and photographs along with the original items. Submission of electronic copies does not increase the likelihood that a collection will appear online. We cannot accept electronic copies in lieu of the original items.
No electronic files will be accepted via email. The only accepted format is CD or DVD. Text documents must be submitted as plain text (.txt or .rtf file formats). Images must be in TIFF or JPEG format. Media and Formats table [ PDF: 60KB / 1 page]
- How do I share the story of a deceased veteran? Can I be interviewed on behalf of a deceased veteran?
The Veterans History Project accepts original photographs and letters, memoirs, diaries on behalf of deceased veterans. However, we cannot accept second-hand, or by-proxy, accounts of a veteran’s experiences. Please see What We Accept for more information.
VHP’s required forms must accompany the collection submitted on behalf of a deceased veteran. The Veteran’s Release Form may be signed by the veteran’s power of attorney, estate executor, or legal heir.
- I have a Website with my story of service -
can I just send you the URL?
Web sites are not among the items we can accept. Please consider sending the original materials. Please see What We Accept; it is our policy to accept original materials only.
- What recording formats does the Veterans History Project accept? Do you prefer video or audio formats?
Most audio and video recording formats are accepted (including but not limited to standard audio cassette, CD, Hi-8, Digital Video and DVD-Video recordings). If you are making a CD or DVD of the interview, remember to finalize, but not copy protect, the disc. Accepted Media and Format Standards outline the items VHP accepts.
If both audio and video recording equipment are available to you, we prefer that you use video equipment to capture your interview. However this preference is secondary to the veteran’s wishes.
Regardless of the recording format, please use the highest-quality recording equipment available to you. Please see our Interviewing and Recording Guidelines for more information.
- What does the Veterans History Project NOT
Among that items that the Project cannot accept are three-dimensional artifacts, such as medals, canteens, dog tags, helmets, uniforms, etc. We cannot accept published materials, such as books or magazines. We cannot accept photocopies or scanned documents or scanned photographs. Please see What We Accept for more information. Also, see a list of related repositories that accept artifact donations.
- What role do Partner Archives play in the Veterans
The Veterans History Project is not accepting new Partner Archive applications. If you are an existing Partner Archive and are interested in continuing your participation, please contact us at email@example.com call us at 202-707-4916.
- After I send in my materials, may I send more
materials at a later time? Are there other ways I can participate with VHP?
- Add on to your collection by submitting original photos, letters, journals and other materials. Be sure to enclose a note instructing VHP to "Add to existing collection." Include the veteran's name, date of birth, and VHP Collection number (if known). There is no need to complete the required VHP forms when submitting items to an existing collection.
- Make a financial contribution to VHP in honor of or in memory of a veteran by clicking on the "donate now" button found on our home page . Federal funding guarantees VHP's existence, and private donors help support our educational and outreach efforts.
- Encourage other interviewers to record veterans' stories and submit them to VHP.
Keep VHP informed of veteran-related events in your area. Email VHP at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Why do you require the Veteran’s and
Interviewer’s release forms? What happens to my collection
if they are not included with my submission?
The Library of Congress requires these forms because they clarify how
the Library can use the collection. It also guarantees the veterans’ legal
copyright to their materials. VHP will return collections that do not include the required VHP forms.
- In the case of a collection pertaining to a
deceased veteran, who can sign the Veteran’s Release Form?
The veteran’s power of attorney, estate executor, or family member
with legal ownership can sign the form.
- Does the Veterans History Project verify the
stories it receives?
The Library of Congress does not verify the accuracy of the accounts described herein by participants in the Veterans History Project. Individual stories are voluntarily submitted to the Veterans History Project and are placed in the Library's permanent collections as received. These histories are the personal recollections and perspectives of participating individuals and are not intended as a substitute for an official record of the federal government or of military service.
- Why do you recommend commercial carriers?
Due to security concerns, the Library of Congress U.S. Postal Service mail is subject to security screening procedures which may damage your submission. Please send recorded interviews and collection materials to us through commercial services such as FedEx or UPS, or deliver them in person if you live nearby. Overnight or expedited service is not necessary.
- If the Veterans History Project does not accept my collection, will they return it?
The Veterans History Project is restricted to accepting only those collection items that fall within the scope of our collecting policies. We make every effort to return materials sent to us that are outside the scope of our collecting policies
- Does VHP still accept Partners to the Project?
No. The VHP Partner Program transitioned in December 2009, and VHP no longer accepts Partners.
- What qualifies an organization as a Founding Partner?
A Founding Partner is any organization that was part of the VHP Partner Program at any point during the time VHP was created through December 2009. VHP is grateful to each for the role Founding Partners played during the Project’s early years and encourages them to continue their support as a Contributor.
- What qualifies an organization or an individual as a Contributor?
A Contributor is any organization that or individual who records and submits interviews, original photos or letters, diaries, journals and other accepted materials noted on page one of VHP’s online Field Kit.
VHP Contributors are named on the Biographical Information Page of each veteran’s collection based on the information they provided on the Interviewer’s Release Form. Those submitting non-interview materials (e.g., original photographs or letters, memoir, etc.) should include a cover letter with the name of the Contributor as it should appear on the Biographical Page and complete the Manuscript Log.
The Biographical Information page is accessed through the VHP Online Database ( or go to www.loc.gov/vets and click on Search the Veterans Collections.).
- I am coming to Washington, DC, and would like to visit the Veterans History Project. Where do I go? May I deliver a collection in person?
Yes. The Veterans History Project Information Center is located in Room LM-109 of the Madison Building and is open from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM, Monday through Friday, and is closed on all federal holidays.
Please contact VHP prior to your visit to ensure VHP staff are available (email email@example.com or telephone 888-371-5848).
Collections are not served to researchers or to the general public in the VHP Information Center. Please make an appointment with research staff to view your own or any other collections. Please visit the For Researchers section of our Web site for details.
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Research and Access
- What happens to the material once it is received? How
will my collection be used?
Your collection will be added to the Veterans History Project's archives. Once it is processed, the veteran's service history information will be available in our online database, and the interview (or other materials) will be available to researchers and the general public.
Some collections are also used by the Library of Congress in presentations, exhibitions, publications, and events to promote the Veterans History Project.
- How can I conduct research or view Veterans History Project
You may use the online database to conduct basic searches.
Please have the correct spelling of the first and last names of the veteran. Please visit the For Researchers section of our Web site for details.
The Project staff work with researchers and those interested in reviewing the collections onsite. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202) 707-4916 one week prior to a visit to allow VHP staff time to prepare collections for your visit and so that we can explore your research topic and help you identify collections of interest
- What may I search for using the Veterans History
You may conduct searches on the VHP
online database using different criteria including: name of veteran/civilian,
name of interviewer/donor, war, branch of service, unit of service
(such as battalion, regiment, ship, etc.), medals, and service locations.
Links to selected digitized collections are included when applicable.
Approximately ten percent of the collections in the Veterans History Project can be viewed
in their entirety online. If the collection link does not say “View
Digital Collection” then it is not available for online viewing
and you will need to schedule an appointment to view the materials.
- What information is made public on the Veterans
History Project online database?
As it appears on the Biographical Data Form, name, date and place of birth, and service history information are made avialable online via the Veterans History Project database. Please Search the Veterans Collections for examples.
In addition, researchers who visit the Library and use a collection for research will have access to the collection materials, but not the forms that contain private information (e.g., home address). If a patron ever needs to contact a veteran (for copyright permission, for example), VHPstaff will first make contact with the veteran and determine their wishes. If veterans decide to release their contact information, we will pass it to the researcher.
When you donate a collection, please protect your privacy. DO NOT label DVDs, CDs, tapes, memoirs, photographs, or other materials with personal mailing labels, service numbers, or social security numbers.
- How do I help the veteran I interview safeguard private or classified information?
Please advise your veteran prior to the interview date that the interview will be made available to researchers and the general public. Any information that might be considered classified should not be shared.
In addition, private information (e.g., social security number, etc.) should be removed from all documents to be included in the public collection (e.g., DD-214). All VHP required forms (e.g., Biographical Data Form, Veteran’s Release Form, etc.) are kept on file and not made available to the public.
Please note any potentially sensitive information on the Audio and Video Recording Log. VHP staff will review this form during the processing period.
- When will my name appear on the Veterans History
Project online database?
Please allow VHP staff six to eight months from the date of receipt to fully incorporate collection materials into the Library of Congress permanent collections.
- Why am I able to access some—but not all—interviews online?
The VHP collection comprises over 74,000 individual interviews that are physically housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The general public—with advance notice—may visit the Library of Congress during regular business hours to access them.
As the collection grows approximately ten percent are “fully” digitized and made available online, such that the items may be viewed or heard. A “View Digital Collection” button marks those collections that are viewable online. However, each veteran in the collection receives a Biographical Information Page which serves as a record for their individual submission.
Anyone interested in accessing non-digitized collections must schedule an appointment to view the materials at the Library of Congress.
- Will my collection be digitized and presented online? Can I make a donation in order to expedite digitization of my collection?
Approximately ten percent of the Veterans History Project collections are digitized. Resources do not allow VHP to digitize the entire collection. Three criteria guide the process to select collections to be digitized: 1) for preservation purposes, 2) to ensure that VHP makes accessible online a representative sample of the veterans who served our nation and have shared a story with VHP, and 3) for inclusion in our quarterly Experiencing War online presentation.
We welcome donations to the Veterans History Project, but donated funds will not increase the likelihood that your collection will be digitized and available online.
Providing an interview in an electronic format will not ensure that VHP will make your interview viewable via the VHP Web site.
- I have sent in my name and collections material,
but I am not included in the online list. Why?
In most cases, this is for one of two reasons:
First, if your materials were sent to the Veterans History
Project, please allow the VHP staff time to properly preserve, house,
and catalog collection materials. Presently, it takes about 6-8 months
from the time materials are received before your name will appear
online. You may contact us at email@example.com with
questions about materials sent to VHP.
Second, if you submitted your collection through a contributing organization, it may take some time before your collection materials are forwarded to us. If you do not see your collection online, and you worked with a particular organization, we suggest that you contact them in order to ensure that the collection was sent to the Library of Congress.
How can I obtain a copy of an interview or a
Please make a copy of any collection you submit before sending it to the Library of Congress. Resources do not permit us to make gratis copies of oral histories in the Veterans History Project Collection. The Library of Congress has established procedures for obtaining copies of all of its collection materials for a fee. Information about the request process and current associated fees is available online.
Please note that in order for the Veterans History Project to release the original recording for duplication, we must receive from the interviewee and interviewer(s) written letters stating their permission for you to obtain a copy of the recording. This protects the rights of the interviewee and interviewer, and is especially important if you plan to use the recording for publication.
Because the Veterans History Project encourages participants to keep copies of interviews in addition to sending originals to the Library of Congress, you may also wish to contact the interviewee directly to see if he or she has a copy from which you may make a copy for yourself.
You are always welcome to review collections in person by visiting the American Folklife Center Reading Room (view information about arranging a visit). Photocopies of most manuscript material and photographs can be made in the Reading Room. The Library also has a Photoduplication Service if you are interested in high-quality photo copies.
I was interviewed by the Veterans History Project during the National WWII Memorial Dedication ceremonies. How can I obtain a copy of my interview?
In some cases, no interview was recorded, but the veteran gave biographical and service data, which appear in our online database. If the entry you see online does not show “Type of Resource: Audio Cassette” then no interview exists, and we cannot provide you with further information or assistance
During the dedication ceremonies of the National WWII Memorial, the Veterans History Project undertook the interviewing of hundreds of veterans. As a separate initiative ,most of these interviews range from five to ten minutes in length. If you were interviewed, or you are the family member of someone who was interviewed, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 202-707-4916 for further assistance.
- When I click on the “View Digitized Collection” link, nothing happens. What’s the matter?
If you are using an Apple computer, you may have trouble viewing the interviews with Apple’s Safari web browser. Regardless of your operating system, we generally recommend using another browser and downloading RealPlayer
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- I am a teacher and want to get my students involved
in this Project. How do I start?
The Veterans History Project encourages participation from high school (10th grade and above) and college students. Please visit VHP’s Especially for Students section of our Web site to get started.
- How do I/we find veterans to interview?
Many of our student participants choose to interview friends or
family members that have served in the military. You can also
find veterans to interview by contacting area branches of Veteran
Service Organizations (such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign
Wars, Disabled American Veterans, etc.), Department of Veterans Affairs
local facilities, and the AARP.
- What is the minimum age/grade level appropriate for participation
We ask that students be in the 10th grade or higher. We have found that younger students, while enthusiastic about the Project, may present challenges for the veteran who may be discussing sensitive and disturbing experiences.
Students make great team members, so consider pairing younger participants with adults. For example, have students operate recording equipment and observe while an adult conducts the interview.
- When my students submit the interviews, can we put them
on one DVD/CD?
No, VHP guidelines call for one interview per DVC/CD.
- I have recordings of veterans who spoke to my class or who
were interviewed by my students. Do you want them?
Each interview (and supplemental items such as collections of photographs and letters) must be accompanied by completed, required VHP forms. If these completed forms accompany the interview, and if the interview meets the criteria of What We Collect, we welcome them.
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- How can I obtain my military service records?
The Veterans History Project is not an official repository of veterans’ records. Please contact the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR) in St. Louis. This page may also prove helpful.
- How can I obtain a list of medals and decorations to which I am
You will need to contact the National Personnel Records Center,
Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR) in St. Louis.
- How can I locate someone I served with?
We cannot release personal information about a veteran, due to numerous
privacy laws. The
The Department of Veterans Affairs and military branches may be able forward your contact information or message to veterans or active service personnel. Some Veterans Service Organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion maintain reunion listings, member directories, and locator services.
- How can I receive information on veterans’ benefits?
The Veterans History Project is not a part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), but you can learn more about veterans’ benefits by visiting the VA Web site.
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