Frequently Asked Questions
How is the GVSU Veterans History Project related to the Library of Congress Veterans History Project?
The Library of Congress project relies on volunteers and community partners throughout the nation to collect veterans' stories for them. The GVSU VHP is a Founding Partner in their effort, and is one of the few in the country that serves as an archiving partner, creating our own archive in addition to sending materials in to the Library of Congress.
I am a veteran, what do I do to be interviewed?
Step 1: Contact Dr. James Smither at [email protected] or (616) 331-3422. He or a representative will then contact you to choose a date, time and location for the interview.
Step 2: On the day of your interview, bring any personal photos, letters, and other memorabilia that you would like to share.
Step 3: The interviewer will record some basic information on your experiences for our records, and will look through any materials that you brought with you to get a basic understanding of your story.
Step 4: The interviewer will conduct the interview with you and record it on video.
Step 5: We will archive the interview at GVSU and the Library of Congress, and send you a DVD of the interview, free of charge.
What if I was not in combat, or served in peacetime? We are interested in the stories of all veterans, whether they were in combat or not. Only a relatively small percentage of wartime veterans fought on the front lines, but they could not have done what they did without large numbers of personnel supporting them. We are interested in knowing what those support personnel did in order to complete the larger story. Similarly, knowing what men and women did in the service between wars tells us a good deal about the preparedness of the military for what came later, and helps us to understand what happened in those conflicts. In short, you don't have to be "John Wayne" to have a story worth telling.
What if I'm not a veteran, but I was affected by one of the wars. Do you want to interview me about my experiences?
The VHP wants any first-hand accounts of people's experiences in wartime, whether home or abroad. We talk to war industry workers, civilian contractors, medical and aid workers, conscientious objectors and peace activists. We have also conducted a number of valuable interviews with people who were living in foreign countries who were caught up in the middle of the war (in Nazi-occupied Europe, etc.).
What material is the VHP unable to accept?
Our collection is primarily digital, and consists of the interviews themselves and the files that we create (summaries, outlines, transcripts) for the benefit of researchers and other users. We are also interested in letters, diaries, photographs, home movies, and other documents relating to the interview. These materials may be digitized and posted on the website, along with the interview files. You can bring in original or digitized copies, or clean photocopies. If you have original materials that you would like to keep, we would be able to make copies if you are willing to lend the materials to us. In that case, your original materials would be returned to you. What we cannot use are published materials or physical artifacts (uniforms, equipment, etc.), as we do not have adequate storage facilities for such materials.
What happens to the recorded interview?
DVD copies are made of the interview for archiving purposes, and a copy of the interview is mailed directly to the veteran. Student research assistants create text files (summaries and outlines) for each interview that we post on our archive website at GVSU, along with the interview videos themselves. The interview videos are posted to the website in Quicktime format. We also post the interview videos on iTunesU. We send copies of the videos and the text files to the Library of Congress as well.
I have a relative-now deceased-who left written accounts of his experiences. May I send this material to The Veterans History Project?
Yes. The Veteran's History Project does accept written accounts and will collect and archive these first-person accounts of past events.
Can I order additional copies of my interview or other interviews?
Each veteran receives one free DVD copy of his or her interview. These interviews are in the public domain, so you are welcome to make additional copies of any of them. If you would like to order them directly from us, because of processing costs, the charge per DVD is $13.60, which includes sales tax and a $3 shipping fee (per order). If two DVDs are ordered, the cost is $24.20, three DVDs cost $34.80, etc. We can supply copies of any interview listed on the website, as well as those still being processed. To place an order, send a check (payable to Grand Valley State University) to Dr. James Smither, Department of History, 1 Campus Drive, D-1-160 Mackinac Hall, Allendale, MI 49401. Please be sure to indicate which interview you are requesting and how many copies. Orders are normally processed in about two weeks.
How do I find the project archive on the internet?
Use the link to Veterans History Archive from the menu on the left of this page. You can browse the complete list of interviews, browse the listings for a particular conflict or category, or search the site for names, terms, and other key words. To access an individual veteran's file, click on the thumbnail photo and select from the items that appear on the page.
In addition to the archive page, we also post the interview videos on iTunesU, which you can access from the university's website www.gvsu.edu.
Who do I contact about problems with a DVD or an online file?
Contact Dr. James Smither, the project director, at [email protected] or (616) 331-3422. We will replace defective DVDs free of charge, and can correct misspellings, fixing broken links to videos or other problems that you find in the summary, outline, or transcript of your interview.