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Webster Parish Libraries collecting stories for Veterans History Project

by Amber McDown

Webster Parish Libraries has joined with the Library of Congress in collecting the firsthand experiences of war veterans through oral histories, documents, and photographs. The purpose of the Veterans History Project is to preserve these accounts for future generations. 

The Veterans History Project was created in 2000 by the Library of Congress. Since then, libraries across the nation have been collecting the stories of veterans who served in military actions from World War I through the present. This includes WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the Iraq War and many others.

Veterans are asked to submit personal narratives such as audio- or video-taped interviews or written memoirs. They can also submit correspondence such as letters, postcards, or personal diaries, or visual materials like photographs, drawings, or scrapbooks. All documentation must be original, and taped interviews must be unedited. 

“It’s all about collecting the firsthand experiences of veterans,” said Janetta Robinson, historical archivist for the Minden main branch library.

Once those experiences have been collected, they will be added to the National Archive for future generations to learn from. The local libraries and the people who submit their stories will also receive copies. 

Anyone who would like to submit their stories is invited to contact the library. They can come in and have their stories recorded or the library will make arrangements to come visit the storyteller.

“I’m looking forward to hearing the stories because guys who have experienced that — have been in wars — they usually don’t like to talk about it, and this gives them an opportunity to talk about some of the things they wouldn’t normally talk about and that they may not mention to their families  But they might be willing to do something for this type of thing because it will be historical and from their point of view,” said Robinson. “And it will be included in the National Archives where other people can access it. It may be something they want to leave to their families, but without having to talk about it to them.” 

While the project began in 2000, it is ongoing with no determined end time. But that is no reason to put this off, and there’s a very important reason to submit stories as soon as possible.

“Some people might not be willing to right now, but they may change their minds later,” Robinson continued. “I don’t want to put a limit on it as far as time frame, but I do want people to understand that it is time sensitive because you never know when this history might be lost because we lose someone. And we’ve lost a lot of people already.” 

If you or someone you know is interested in adding their story to the Veterans History Project, please contact Janetta Robinson at (318) 371-3080 ext 126 for more information. 

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