North Carolina Veterans Oral History Collection
The purpose of the State Archives of North Carolina’s Military Collection Veterans Oral History Program is to capture and provide access to the memories and experiences of the military servicemen and servicewomen from the state of North Carolina, preserving them for the benefit of the public and scholars. The Military Collection’s Veterans Oral History Program will record in audio and/or video formats interviews with military veterans who were born and raised in the state of North Carolina, and who served in the U.S. Armed Forces for any military service, engagement, or war.
Interviews will also be conducted with veterans who have spent more than twenty-five years living in the state of North Carolina, but initially served in the U.S. Armed Forces from another U.S. state. Consideration for conducting interviews will be given on a case-by-case basis to veterans who spent considerable time training at North Carolina military camps, forts, and air bases, but who did not live or serve from the state of North Carolina.
Particular emphasis will be given to interviewing those aging veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War (including members of the intelligence community), and the Vietnam War—due to the necessity to record those veterans before time and illness causes the recollection of military service to become lost to time.
However, all veterans who have served up to recent engagements or conflicts will be included in the oral history program. A veteran does not have to have seen active military combat service to be interviewed for the program. Service is valued for its historical context—not its physical engagement. If a veteran has served the United States in any capacity in the U.S. Armed Forces, their story is considered important to the historical memory of North Carolina and its citizens.
The Military Collection is particularly interested in documenting the military service of minorities, women in service, African Americans, POWs, special operations personnel, and those serving in non-combat positions in the Cold War (such as soldiers serving in posts along Communist-occupied areas in Europe and southeast Asia).
History of the Oral History Program
The State Archives of North Carolina Military Collection’s Veterans Oral History Interview Collection contains more than 1,150 oral history interviews of military veterans living in or from North Carolina. The Veterans Oral History Project began in 1996 in order to record the personal military service accounts of the remaining North Carolinians who served in World War I. The project would expand from 1996 to 2003 to focus on interviewing veterans of World War II, while the Military Collection attempted to build its holdings of primary historical materials. The interviews were conducted largely by volunteers from across the state, as well as by the Military Collection Archivist.
The interviews eventually grew in terms of their historical scope, and the collection now contains interviews with veterans from World War I up to the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as with peacetime service individuals and non-combatants. The interviews of many of the veterans correspond with original and copied archival materials donated to the Military Collection from 1996 to 2014. The interviews include the last living World War I soldiers in North Carolina; numerous interviews with female members of the U.S. Armed Forces; and interviews with members of every branch and many of the military regiments formed in North Carolina.
Starting in 2016, the Veterans Oral History Program will begin a re-initiated, state-wide oral history program, utilizing regional partner organizations and institutions to host training programs using loaned interview recording equipment. As the program grows and more volunteers and locations are added, the Military Collection hopes to work with North Carolina communities and veterans’ organizations to record for posterity the stories of those men and women who have sacrificed for our nation.
Conducting a Veteran Oral History Interview with the Military Collection
If you are a military veteran and would be interested in participating in the Veterans Oral History Program by conducting an oral history interview, or if you are a family member of a military veteran and are interested in having your relative interviewed, you can contact the Military Collection Archivist, Matthew Peek, by calling his office at (919) 807-7314, or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Veteran Interview Request.”
Determinations regarding who will be interviewed are governed by the Military Collection Oral History Program guidelines. All decisions on conducting interviews are made by the Military Collection Archivist.
You can also contact the Military Collection through the following form, which is emailed directly to the Military Collection Archivist.
Please describe the veteran willing to be interviewed, noting any contact information for the veteran, the city/state in which they currently live, and what military engagements or wars the veteran was involved in. If you are the veteran, please identify yourself as the potential interviewee. The Military Collection Archivist will be in touch as with you or the veteran as soon as possible