Thursday, May 20, 2010

Students’ Interviews with Vietnam Veterans Added to Digital Oral Histories Collections

Recording the memories and stories from people’s pasts and making them available for future generations is a goal that oral historians and archivists share and promote. The University Libraries have collaborated with Department of History faculty and students to accomplish this objective by making digital audio and video interviews conducted by Ball State students available globally through the Ball State Digital Media Repository (DMR).

The latest digital oral history collection to be included in the DMR is the Vietnam War Era Veterans Oral Histories, ( VtnmOrHis), consisting of 26 interviews conducted by students in Dr. Michael W. Doyle’s HIST 499 Oral History Workshop in the fall semester of 2009.

Students in the course learned methods for conducting oral history research and then interviewed local military veterans from the Vietnam War era. The video interviews were recorded using HD technology. More than half of the students presented their work at a recent panel discussion, also attended by 7 of 26 interviewed veterans. According to Dr. Doyle, “One former Army captain (and Ball State alumnus) stood up to say that he had never spoken to anyone, not even his wife and children, about his experiences in combat in Vietnam. ‘That night [following his interview],’ he said, ‘I got the first good sleep I’ve had in over forty years.’”

Several Ball State personnel are included among the interviewees, including the University Libraries’ own Cecilia Bond, Head of Metadata and Copy Cataloging (pictured right). She served in the U. S. Navy during the Vietnam War and shared her experience in the video interview.

Students from the class are working on transcriptions of the interviews. When completed, the transcripts will be available with the collection in the DMR. Currently only the videos are available online. These video interviews join a growing collection of digital oral histories in the DMR. Other veterans’ oral history collections include the 376th Heavy Bombardment Group and the Cantigny First Division. The DMR also boasts many Middletown Digital Oral Histories.

The University Libraries have been recognized through publications and conference presentations as a leader in the area of digitizing oral histories. We are pleased to partner with the Department of History and other academic areas to bring the work of Ball State students to the world and make digital content produced at Ball State available globally to support teaching, learning, and research through the DMR.

For more information on this collection or others in the DMR, contact John B. Straw, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections,, 765-285-5078.