Veterans History Project: Website Overview

[ Music ]>>The Veterans History
Project, also known as VHP, collects original materials from
United States military veterans who served from World War
I to more recent conflicts. These materials are
diverse in format. They include oral
history interviews, original photographs,
memoirs, diaries, two-dimensional artwork,
letters, and more. VHP organizes these original
materials into collections, named after the veteran whose
experiences they reflect. These unique collections are
contributed by volunteers and veterans across the nation. This video will explain how
to research the collections that are part of the
Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress. The best way to begin
your research is by searching the VHP database. To get there, begin on the Veterans History Project
homepage at LOC.GOV/VETS. Then click on search the
veterans’ collections. Many people search the
database to find information about a specific
person, often a relative. To find an individual veteran in
our collections, you can search by the veteran’s
name or initials. For very common first
names, you may need to try several combinations. For example, when you
search Vince Patton, you don’t get any results. However, when you search
for Vincent Patton, using the full name instead of
a nickname, the database pulls up the exact record that
you are looking for. If there is a match
in VHP’s collections, your search will generate a
list of collection records in alphabetical order. In this case, there is only
one record for Vincent Patton. So you would click on
his name to continue to his collection record. Each collection record page in the VHP database provides
biographical information about the veteran as
well as information about the material
in their collection. Let’s take a look at
the collection record for Bobbie Sue Grape
to learn more. On the left-hand side,
you’ll find information about Grape’s service in
the Women’s Army Corps. On the right-hand side,
under collection information, you will see a list of all
of the types of material in Grape’s collection. In this case, manuscript
materials as well as video recorded oral
history interview. If the collection has
materials available online, there will be a box entitled
view digitized collection. Selecting this box will link
you to the digitized content. If you are not looking for the
record of a specific veteran, there are a number of ways
you can search more broadly. On the VHP database homepage,
use the advanced search options to fine-tune your
search results. One of the quickest ways
to narrow your results is to use the check boxes
on the right-hand side of the search menu, which
let you limit your results by conflict or era,
branch of service, gender, and prisoner of war status. You can also use check
boxes to select what kind of material you are interested
in viewing, like audio or video recorded oral
history interviews, manuscript material,
and photographs. Let’s say you are looking
for original photographs of women veterans
from World War II. To get the most relevant
results, you will limit your search
by checking the boxes next to World War II and female. You can also select particular
formats which interest you. So in this case, you will
check the photo box under type of material and check
the box for original under type of photograph. Finally, you will
select go to continue. Using these advanced search
options will limit your results to only those collections
from women who served during World War II which contain original
photographic materials. You can also search within
specific fields in the database for more precise results. For example, many people are
interested in finding veterans who served in a particular
service unit. As you can see in this list on
the left, service unit is one of the searchable fields
in the VHP database. Let’s say you want to
find veterans who served in the First Marine Division,
in the left-hand menu, you would select
service unit/ship and then enter First Marine
Division into the search box. Then select go. For additional search options, select the browse tab located
just above the search box on the VHP database homepage. Selecting the browse
tab allows you to browse through collections
alphabetically by last name, by war, and military branch,
and by state of residence. You can also browse
veteran collections by race or ethnicity. However, please note that
many veterans choose not to report their race
or ethnicity when they donate their
materials to VHP. Please keep in mind not all of our original collection
materials are available online. Most researchers find
that they need to speak with VHP reference
staff in order to comprehensively
search our collections. If you are not finding material that fits your research
question, VHP reference staff are ready
and waiting to assist you. From the Veterans History
Project homepage, LOC.GOV/VETS, select contact us to connect
with VHP reference staff. You can contact the Veterans
History Project by email, by phone, or by using our ask
a librarian online service.

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