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About the Project » FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Background
1. What is the Veterans History Project?
2. How did the Veterans History Project start?

Participation
1. How do I start the process?
2. How do I locate veterans to interview?
3. Who are the participants?
4. How else can I participate?
5. Does the Veterans History Project accept financial contributions?
6. How can Scout Troops participate?
7. Is there a deadline for participating in the Veterans History Project?

Submitting Materials
1. Is there a deadline for submitting materials to the Veterans History Project?
2. How do I submit materials to the Veterans History Project?
3. What comprises a collection for the Veterans History Project?
4. Can I submit electronic versions of documents and photos?
5. Does the Veterans History Project accept artifacts and other three dimensional items?
6. Will the Veterans History Project provide courtesy copies of my collection materials after I submit them?
7. Can I share the story of a deceased veteran?
8. Can I add to an existing collection?
9. Which forms are required?
10. What happens if my submission does not meet the minimum requirements?
11. Does the Veterans History Project verify the stories it receives?
12. How long will it take for my collection to appear online?

Research and Access
1. How are Veterans History Project collections used?
2. How can I access Veterans History Project collections?
3. How does the Veterans History Project determine which collections will be digitized?
4. What information is made public in the Veterans History Project online database?
5. What information is provided to researchers who use non-digitized collections onsite at the Library of Congress?
6. How do I safeguard private or classified information?
7. Can Veterans History Project collection materials be used in publications or in exhibitions?

General Information
1. Can I obtain my military service records or get information about my medals and decorations from the Veterans History Project?
2. How can I locate someone I served with?
3. Can I visit the Veterans History Project?

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Background

  1. 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 firsthand 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 and collections of original photographs, letters, diaries, maps and other historical documents from World War I through current conflicts. See more at What We Collect and About the Project.

  2. 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 [PDF, 197 KB]), sponsored by U.S. Representatives Ron Kind, Amo Houghton and Steny Hoyer and U.S. Senators Max Cleland and Chuck Hagel, received unanimous support and was signed into law by President William Jefferson Clinton on October 27, 2000.

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Participation

  1. How do I start the process?
    Read the VHP Field Kit [PDF, 2 MB] and review the 15-minute-long VHP Field Kit Companion Video (the freely available RealPlayerexternal link is required to view the video).

    The Companion Video is also available via the Library's YouTube channel.external link

    Printed versions of the Field Kit are available in limited quantities. Order a printed version by sending an email to vohp@loc.gov or by calling 888-371-5848 (please allow up to two weeks for delivery).

  2. How do I locate veterans to interview?
    Many of our participants choose to interview friends or family members that have served in the military. However, local veterans service organizations, a local or regional Department of Veterans Affairs facility, a senior center or a retirement community are good places to locate veterans who might be interested in sharing their story.

  3. Who are the participants?
    - Veterans who served in the U.S. military, in any capacity, from WWI to the present and are no longer serving, regardless of branch or rank.
    - U.S. Civilians who served in support of a U.S. war/conflict effort in a professional capacity, such as, war industry workers, USO workers, flight instructors, medical volunteers, etc.
    - Volunteers/Organizations from around the country that interview veterans and collect first person narratives. Any individual or organization may participate, including family members and friends of veterans, students in grades 10 or higher, high school and university educators, authors, veterans service organizations, places of worship, retirement communities, Scout troops, local business and professional associations.

  4. How else can I participate?
    - 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 vohp@loc.gov.

  5. Does the Veterans History Project accept financial contributions?
    Yes. Federal funding guarantees VHP’s existence, and private donors help support our educational and outreach efforts. If you would like to make a financial contribution to VHP in honor of or in memory of a veteran, please click on the “donate now” button found on our home page.

    Donations can also be made via postal mail by sending a check made out to Library of Congress (with the Veterans History Project indicated on the memo line) and addressed to the Library of Congress, Veterans History Project, 101 Independence Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20540-4615

    Thank you in advance!

  6. How can Scout Troops participate?
    VHP provides an ideal opportunity for a Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Eagle Scout Service Project. Scouts seeking to earn their Eagle badge typically submit eight to 15 VHP interviews following special guidelines designed just for them. A VHP staff member must sign off as the Beneficiary on each Scout’s BSA proposal prior to participation. Other scout or youth organizations may use these guidelines for their own awards or community service programs. Email vohp@loc.gov to inquire about Scout participation.

  7. Is there a deadline for participating in the Veterans History Project?
    No. The Veterans History Project is an ongoing program and continues to be supported by the United States Congress.

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Submitting Materials

  1. Is there a deadline for submitting materials to the Veterans History Project?
    No. There is no deadline to submit materials, but we encourage you to submit collections to VHP soon after you compile materials. Veterans and their families are eager for their interviews to be included in the Library of Congress; therefore, the sooner items are submitted to VHP, the sooner we are able to process them into the VHP collection.

    Please note, if you participate in VHP via a volunteer organization, e.g., school, university, DAR, VFW, etc., VHP will not be able to provide you with the status of your collection until we receive your materials from that organization.

  2. How do I submit materials to the Veterans History Project?
    Prior to submitting your collection, make copies of all audio/video recordings and other materials and provide them to all involved individuals, i.e., veteran/civilian participant, interviewer, donor/organization and family members.

    If sending more than one collection, please collate each veteran’s collection and place into an envelope or folder with their name and conflict on the outside. Place your item(s) in a box, enclose a cover letter (p.4 of Field Kit) and use one of the following submission options.

    To avoid damage caused by the Library of Congress’ special security screening process, do not use the U.S. Postal Service.

    By Mail: Use a commercial carrier* (e.g. FedEx, UPS, etc.), to deliver items to

                  Veterans History Project
                  Library of Congress
                  101 Independence Avenue, SE
                  Washington, DC 20540-4615

    *Do not pay extra for expedited service. Ground delivery or the least expensive delivery option is sufficient.

    Hand-deliver: A VHP representative will be available to assist you at the above address, in Room LM-109 of the Madison Building on weekdays between 10:00am and 3:00pm (EST) if you would like to hand-deliver your collection materials. Please call 888-371-5848 prior to your arrival.

  3. What comprises a collection for the Veterans History Project?
    VHP accepts first person narratives in the forms of original unedited audio/video recorded interviews, photographs, letters, diaries, journals, military documents, two-dimensional artwork, maps and unpublished memoirs that meet minimum requirements from U.S. veterans and U.S. civilians who professionally supported war/conflict efforts. Materials collected must fall within VHP’s 30-20-10 Rule. Materials that fail to meet at least one of the following minimum requirements will be returned to the contributor:

    30-20-10 Rule
    - 30 minutes is the minimum length required for recorded interviews.
    - 20 pages is the minimum number of pages required for memoirs, diaries or journals.
    - 10 is the minimum number of original photographs, letters, maps or pieces of artwork required and the minimum number of pages required for military documents. Please see What We Collect for more information.

  4. Can I submit electronic versions of documents and photos?
    Yes. However, electronic files cannot be submitted via email. Electronic files will only be accepted on CDs, DVDs or Flash Drives. Text documents must be submitted as plain text files (.txt or .rtf file formats). Images must be in TIFF (.tif) or JPEG (.jpg) format and should be scanned at at least 300 ppi (pixels per inch).

    Please note, any documents or photographs submitted on an electronic device should be accompanied by hard copies. We cannot accept electronic copies in lieu of the original items. Also, submitting electronic copies will not increase the likelihood that your collection will be digitized.

    See the Media and Formats table [PDF, 60 KB] for accepted media formats.

  5. Does the Veterans History Project accept artifacts and other three dimensional items?
    No. VHP only accepts audio/video recordings, original manuscripts, diaries and photographs. Please see What We Collect for more information.

    Please visit our Related Repositories and Oral History Projects that may be able to assist you.

  6. Will the Veterans History Project provide courtesy copies of my collection materials after I submit them?
    No. Resources do not permit the Library of Congress to make gratis copies of oral histories in the Veterans History Project Collection. Please make copies of all collection materials for your own records and each involved party before sending materials to the Library of Congress.

  7. Can I share the story of a deceased veteran?
    Yes. The Veterans History Project accepts original, firsthand materials on behalf of deceased veterans. The Veteran’s Release Form may be signed by the veteran’s power of attorney, estate executor or legal heir.

    Any materials submitted on behalf of a deceased veteran must be accompanied by all VHP required forms and meet at least one of the minimum requirements of the 30-20-10 Rule:
    - 30 minutes is the minimum length required for recorded interviews.
    - 20 pages is the minimum number of pages required for memoirs, diaries or journals.
    - 10 is the minimum number of original photographs, letters, maps or pieces of artwork required and the minimum number of pages required for military documents. Please see What We Collect for more information.

  8. Can I add to an existing collection?
    Yes. When submitting, be sure to enclose a note instructing VHP staff to “Add to an existing collection.” Include the veteran's name, date of birth and VHP Collection number (if known). There is no need to complete the Biographical Data or Release forms when submitting items to an existing collection.

  9. Which forms are required?
    a. Biographical Data Form
    b. Veteran’s Release Form
    c. Interviewer’s Release Form (if enclosing an interview)
    d. Audio & Video Recording Log (if enclosing a recorded interview)
    e. Photograph Log (if enclosing a photograph)
    f. Manuscript Data Sheet (if enclosing a manuscript, memoir, letters, diary or other written materials)

    The Library of Congress requires these forms in order to clarify how the Library can use the collection and facilitate access for researchers. It also guarantees the veterans’ legal copyright to their materials. VHP will return collections to the contributor if they do not include the required VHP forms. Please see the VHP Field Kit for additional information.

  10. What happens if my submission does not meet the minimum requirements?
    Should any part of the collection be found to include materials that the Library of Congress determines does not meet VHP’s listed requirements, the Library may dispose of such material in accordance with its procedures for disposition of materials not needed for the Library’s collections.

    Please see What We Collect for more information.

  11. Does the Veterans History Project verify the stories it receives?
    No. 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.

  12. How long will it take for my collection to appear online?
    Please allow VHP staff four to six months from the date of receipt to fully incorporate collection materials into the Library of Congress permanent collections.

    VHP will send veterans and donors acknowledgement postcards within eight to 10 weeks of receipt. The acknowledgment of receipt verifies that your materials have reached VHP and are being reviewed for acquisition. Please see “Is there a deadline for submitting materials” for additional information.

    To inquire about the status of your submission, please email vohp@loc.gov or call 888-371-5848.

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Research and Access

  1. How are Veterans History Project collections used?
    Researchers and the general public use VHP collections for a wide variety of projects and purposes, including academic papers and scholarship, documentaries, genealogy research and personal interest.

    Some collections are also used by the Library of Congress in presentations, exhibitions, publications and events to promote the Veterans History Project.

  2. How can I access Veterans History Project collections?
    You can search the VHP online database for the online Biographical Information record for each collection of interest. You can also search the database using different criteria, such as name of veteran/civilian; name of interviewer/donor; war; branch of service; unit of service (such as battalion, regiment, ship, etc.); and service locations.

    Each VHP collection receives an online Biographical Information record, which includes the participant’s name, affiliation and military service details. Some collections are digitized and made available online. Digitized collections are identified by a “VIEW DIGITAL COLLECTION” button. At this time, approximately ten percent (10%) of the collections in VHP have been digitized and can be viewed 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 onsite.

    Please note, collections are not served to the general public or researchers in the VHP Information Center. To view collections you must make an appointment with research staff at least 10 days in advance of your visit.

    After scheduling an appointment, researchers may review collections in the American Folklife Center Reading Room.
    - Hours: 8:30 am - 5:00 pm (EST), Monday through Friday (except federal holidays)
    - Location: ground floor of the Jefferson Building, LJ G53
    - Please visit the For Researchers section of our website for more details.

    Please note: You must obtain a Reader Registration card in Room 140 of the Madison Building at the Library of Congress in order to use the reading room.

  3. How does the Veterans History Project determine which collections will be digitized?
    VHP selects collections for digitization based upon preservation needs. Curatorial selection for online exhibits also informs the selection. This is a relatively slow but ongoing process. At this time, about ten percent (10%) of the collections in VHP have been digitized and can be viewed online. Digitized collections are identified by a “VIEW DIGITAL COLLECTION” button.

  4. What information is made public in the Veterans History Project online database?
    The veteran’s name, state of birth and service history information, as they appear on the Biographical Data Form, are made available via the Veterans History Project online database. Please search the Veterans Collections for examples.

    For those collections that have been digitized, a portion or all of the collection materials (i.e., video/audio recording, manuscripts, photos, etc) are made available to the public in our online database. Digitized collections are identified by a “VIEW DIGITAL COLLECTION” button.

  5. What information is provided to researchers who use non-digitized collections onsite at the Library of Congress?
    Researchers and the general public who use a collection for research will have access to the collection materials, but not the forms that contain private information (e.g., home address). Researchers will be allowed to copy Veterans History Project collections for personal and research use and other uses that are permitted by copyright law, but will require permission from the veteran for broader uses such as publication or broadcast.

  6. How do I safeguard private or classified information?
    When you donate a collection, please protect your privacy. DO NOT label DVDs, CDs, tapes, memoirs, photographs or other materials with personal mailing labels, military identification numbers or social security numbers. In addition, private information (e.g., social security numbers, etc.) should be removed from all collection material (e.g., military papers such as the 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 or researchers unless they are in redacted form.

    VHP advises all participants to avoid sharing any classified information as a part of your collection materials.

  7. Can Veterans History Project collection materials be used in publications or in exhibitions?
    Yes. Please note that all VHP participants (both interviewees and interviewers) retain the copyright to their materials; therefore, permission will need to be obtained before using the interview or other materials in exhibition or publication.

    In order for VHP materials to be used in publication or exhibition, we must receive from the interviewee written permission for researchers to obtain a copy of the recording unless the proposed use is limited to personal use, research, or other uses permitted by copyright law. In some instances, permission from the interviewer may also be required.  This protects the rights of the interviewee/interviewer and is especially important if researchers plan to use the recording for publication or broadcast.

    If a patron ever needs to contact a veteran for permission to use their materials in exhibition or publication, VHP staff may release their contact information to the researcher.

    If you are interested in obtaining a copy of a collection for use in publication or exhibition, please contact VHP at vohp@loc.gov or 888-371-5848. Please view the For Researchers section of our website for more information about using VHP collections.

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General Information

  1. Can I obtain my military service records or get information about my medals and decorations from the Veterans History Project?
    No. The Veterans History Project is an oral history program and does not handle veterans’ official service records, benefits or healthcare. Please see page 15 of the Field Kit for a list of helpful resources. This page on Finding Service Records may also prove helpful.

  2. How can I locate someone I served with?
    Please see “How can I access Veterans History Project collections?” for information on searching collections held in the VHP archive.

  3. Can I visit the Veterans History Project?
    Yes. We encourage visits to VHP’s Information Center, which is located in Room LM-109 of the Madison Building (101 Independence Ave, SE, Washington, DC 20540) and is open from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM (EST), Monday through Friday. The Library of Congress is closed on all federal holidays.

    Please contact VHP prior to your visit to ensure VHP staff are available (email vohp@loc.gov or telephone 888-371-5848).

    Please note, collections are not served to the general public or researchers in the VHP Information Center. To view collections, you must make an appointment with research staff at least 10 days in advance of your visit. Please visit the For Researchers section of our website for more details.

    VHP does not provide guided tours. The Library of Congress does have small exhibits and docents are available for tours in the Jefferson Building. Please see the Visitor Services page for more information.

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  The Library of Congress >> American Folklife Center
  February 19, 2014
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