Veterans History Project

Oral History of Veterans.

Carnival of Genealogy: Family Wartime Stories

Welcome to the 32nd Carnival of Genealogy. The theme: Family Stories of Wartime. The entries span the Revolutionary War to the Korean Conflict.

On the same day I was reading through the submitted entries, I asked my SO to set the TiVo to record all seven episodes of Ken Burns’s The War (begins Sunday, 23 September on PBS), a 14+ hour documentary that tells the story of World War 2 through the eyes of ordinary people from four American communities. “In extraordinary times, there are no ordinary lives.” We also watched a documentary that the TiVo recorded earlier this year: The Perilous Fight: WW2 in color. Color motion picture was accompanied by excerpts from diaries and letters written by those who lived it. It was a (mostly) sober couple of hours of non-Glenn Miller getting In The Mood (er, not that mood) for the Carnival, and for the upcoming Ken Burns documentary.

Ken Burns and PBS are promoting the The Veteran’s History Project (VHP), a nationwide oral history project to record and preserve the stories of Americans in wartime at the Library of Congress.

Pearl Harbor

The common theme of the documentaries, the VHP, and this carnival: Great historical events do not belong to the Kings and Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers, War Secretaries and Generals, decision makers and strategists. When one nation fights another, the war is experienced from family to family, household to household. Whether victim, refugee, prisoner, laborer, soldier, the events of that war seep into every corner of a nation.

So here are some stories of war from the households of family (and neighbors) of the carnival partipants.

Revolutionary War

Revolutionary War-era maps and charts

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings tells us the story of Patriot Soldier, Isaac Buck, one of his favorite ancestors and his service and war pension. Good for Isaac Buck that he received a pension, and good for Randy that the records are there to tell him of his ancestor.


Randy’s story mentions Ticonderoga; Here’s a map of Ticonderoga with authentick informations, 1777, from Library of Congress Memory Project. (My grandfather’s 100th birthday party was in the Village of Ticonderoga, or “Ti” as we call it)

The Revolutionary War is also known as “the First Civil War,” according to Tim Abbot of Walking the Berkshires. His account ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 18, 2007 in • GenealogyHistoryOral History ProjectsVeterans History Project
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Father’s oral history about, well, a digital tool

This past spring, I interviewed my dad, with the Veteran’s History Project in mind. Dad was in the Navy, going to school on a ROTC scholarship, and serving in and around the Korean War. We paged through a scrapbook that his Mom kept for him, and he told me stories about the pictures and items therein. The stories from that interview session mostly concern his beginnings in the Navy. I asked him a question to clarify a term he used about his training, and he told me two related stories about his work in the Navy. (oh, and digital, in this case, refers to fingers, not bits)

I wanted to clarify something he mentioned earlier. I asked, “When you said ‘the physical aspect of naval training’ and that was when you were talking about navigation… when you say ‘physical aspect’ what [did that mean]?”

Well where you learn how to use a sextant, how you use a bearing circle, how to determine the direction—the ship’s compass, and the various aids to navigation that you would have. You could use your sextant to determine the altitude of stars, but first you had to learn how to identify the stars.  I still have a sextant; people don’t tend to use those anymore because of the advent of the global positioning system. But I still have the sextant, and can operate it. ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 15, 2007 in • GenealogyPersonal HistoryVeterans History Project
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Podcamp So Cal and Podcast Expo

I just signed up for Podcamp, Thursday Sept 27. Ontario California. That’s the day before Podcast New Media Expo begins (Sept 28, 29) I’ll do a presentation on the Veterans History Project for Podcasters. Nothing like a deadline to get some motivation going. Oh, and that means I should revive my feebly-begun but hey I can start again anytime podcast.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on September 14, 2007 in • Veterans History Project
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Memorial Day: Mom on the radio

A blogger named Merujo notes that her sister taped a talk her mom gave to the U.S. Air Force Association about her involvement as a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) in WW2; it’ll be broadcast today on the radio in a part of Illinois called the Quad Cities area (of which I know not). Later, the station will put a link to the audio up on its site.

For more background, she has a commentary on a radio station (Honoring Women at Arlington) about her mother. I do happen to know that the Veterans History Project is looking for oral histories of Women who served in the military– including WASPS.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 27, 2007 in • Personal HistoryVeterans History Project
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The Ken Burns Effect

Ken Burns, creator of the upcoming WW2 documentary, The War, together with PBS puts muscle behind Veterans History Project. The War begins airing September 23.

Some background: The War tells the story about WW2 from the perspective of four American cities. While Burns was filming interviews with WW2 Vets and participatns, he thought, “Hey! We ought to create a national effort to preserve and capture the stories of those who participated!” Not long into his own efforts to spearhead such an endeavor, he learned of the Veterans History Project. Instead of duplicating efforts, Burns and PBS are joining forces in a combined campaign to encourage people to participate in the Veterans History Project. Expect to see more publicity about VHP in the future.

What is the “Ken Burns Effect”? It’s that pan and scan on documentary photographs that Burns ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 16, 2007 in • Veterans History Project
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Oral History of El Toro base

KPCC ran a story yesterday about Cal State Fullerton gathering oral history of the El Toro Marine base in Southern California. It’s near where I grew up, so it’s local history for me. How nice after having just gone to Cal State Fullerton’s campus for an oral history conference to hear the Center for Oral and Public History make the news. Too, I liked hearing the perspective of the one student who’s a marine. Semper Fi. [link goes to page with Real Audio link, story is ~3+ mins long]

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 01, 2007 in • Oral history in the newsOral History ProjectsVeterans History Project
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