Saturday, October 14, 2006

Veterans History Project (Library of Congress)

Sleuth Now Before It’s Too Late

By Suzanne Freeman

May 2005

If you want to connect with someone about World War II, don’t delay. "My advice for anyone interested in this subject is to get a tape recorder out and get going now," says author Jonathan Gawne. "The veterans are dying and the days of even being able to track down somebody’s Army buddy are almost at a close."

Read everything you can, Gawne says, and use Internet resources, such as websites and message boards [see list below]. Research the National Personnel Records Center, the National Archives and other facilities for documents and photos. Contact veterans organizations. Ask friends and relatives for old letters.

The important thing, he adds, is to keep in mind what you’re really looking for. After his own father died in 1986, Gawne started looking "not for medals or valor or tales of derring-do. I wanted to find out what he had gone through in the hopes of trying to understand the man better."

Web Resources

AARP’s interactive WW II Memorial photo gallery.

The Veterans History Project is a Library of Congress oral history archive sponsored by AARP that provides tips for interviewing veterans.

Dad’s War links to many different groups with their own WWII stories.

The companion website to Jonathan Gawne’s book, Finding Your Father’s War, has resources for researching WWII histories.

Books

Finding Your Father’s War: A Practical Guide to Researching and Understanding Service in the World War II U.S. Army by Jonathan Gawne, Casemate Publishers (July 2005).

My Father’s War by Julia Collins, Four Walls Eight Windows (2003).

Our Fathers’ War: Growing Up in the Shadow of the Greatest Generation by Tom Mathews, Broadway (May 2005).

Our Mothers’ War: American Women at Home and at the Front During World War II by Emily Yellin, Free Press (2004).

The Souvenir: A Daughter Discovers Her Father’s War by Louise Steinman, Plume (2002).

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