What is the Veterans History Project?
The United States Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000 as part of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The mission of the Veterans History Project is to collect and preserve the personal recollections of U.S. wartime veterans, honor their service, and share their stories with current and future generations. The Veterans History Project also collects stories from homefront civilians who supported wartime efforts (e.g. war industry workers, USO workers, flight instructors, and medical volunteers).
The Laguna Woods History Center used to contribute video oral histories to the Veterans History Project. Hundreds of veterans and civilians from Laguna Woods participated by allowing themselves to be interviewed. Interviewees involved in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, and Persian Gulf War have participated.
What happened to the interviews?
Biography forms and recorded interviews are archived at the United States Library of Congress and the Laguna Woods History Center. They are searchable on-line at the Library of Congress (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/html/search/search.html) and the Laguna Woods History Center (http://lagunawoodshistory.org/oralhistories/veterans/media). These DVDs are stored in the archive. They are also available in person to veterans, scholars, students and anyone visiting either organization.
Why did the Laguna Woods History Center have to stop participating in the Veterans History Project?
Professional protocols for recording Oral Histories were established as soon as portable audio recording technology became widely available in the 1940s. The Laguna Woods History Center has always complied with these long-established professional procedures. When the Veterans History Project arbitrarily changed procedures in 2014, they rejected recordings done by the Laguna Woods History Center as noncompliant.
Since the Veterans History Project was the only organization to change these professional standards, the Laguna Woods History Center either had to change procedures to comply only with them or continue with our usual standards recognized by everyone else in the industry.
Since the Laguna Woods History Center also records oral histories with people who participated in making local history, changing procedures was a larger dilemma than might otherwise be assumed.
The Laguna Woods History Center’s Board of Trustees established a formal policy to continue using industry-wide standards, which meant that our subsequent recordings would be refused by the Veterans History Project. The Laguna Woods History Center will continue to record veterans’ oral histories but such recordings are no longer be accepted by the Veterans History Project for archiving there too.