Oral histories from Georgian WWII veterans now freely available online

“This unique project shone a light on the special men and women who sacrificed themselves for all Americans and continues to be a valuable historical resource for researchers, family, and friends of the veterans.”

Aug. 15, 2019

CONTACT: Deborah Hakes, dhakes@georgialibraries.org

ATLANTA — Video recorded recollections from 50 World War II veterans originally from the Bainbridge, GA, area are now available online through YouTube and the Digital Library of Georgia. The interviews, which were originally captured on VHS and VHS-C tapes, were digitized as part of a summer student practicum program sponsored by Georgia HomePLACE, a unit of the Georgia Public Library Service, the Southwest Georgia Regional Library System, and the Clayton State University Master of Archival Studies program. 

The interviews preserve the experiences and history of WWII veterans and provide insight into the cultural and societal values in America between 1939-1945. The majority of veterans interviewed for the project have since passed away, making preservation all the more crucial.

“This unique project shone a light on the special men and women who sacrificed themselves for all Americans and continues to be a valuable historical resource for researchers, family, and friends of the veterans,” says Library Director Susan Whittle. “Responding to a request from an older community resident, SWGRL librarians & historians interviewed and videotaped many of the area’s “Greatest Generation” to share their war experiences and preserve them for posterity in our library and archives.” 

The World War II Veterans Project was an oral history initiative conducted by the Southwest Georgia Regional Library System from 1998-2008 with funding from The Thomas M. and Irene B. Kirbo Charitable Trust. In 2002, the library received a National Award for Library Service from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, partly in recognition of the project’s success.

In order to preserve and improve access to these oral histories, the analog interviews were described, digitized, and uploaded to YouTube. They are additionally searchable within the Digital Library of Georgia. On average, each recording lasts 30 to 40 minutes and chronicles the interviewee’s age when drafted or enlisted, the branch of service, and training. Interviewees recount the nature of their assignments and duties, and often the weapons or artillery used, the transport ships, trucks, trains, and planes; the countries in which they were stationed; and where applicable, the major battles in which they participated.  

Joshua Kitchens, Director of the Master of Archival Studies program at Clayton State, says, “Outside-of-the-classroom experiences, such as working with Georgia HomePLACE, help our students apply the knowledge and skills they’ve accumulated in their course work. It is invaluable that our students have these types of opportunities to gain firsthand experience. Partnerships like these also help our students give back to the larger community of institutions preserving Georgia’s memory.”

####

Georgia HomePLACE encourages public libraries and related institutions across the state to participate in the Digital Library of Georgia. HomePLACE offers a highly collaborative model for digitizing primary source collections related to local history and genealogy. HomePLACE is a project of the Georgia Public Library Service, a unit of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. HomePLACE is supported with federal Library Services and Technology Act funds administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Georgia Public Library Service.

The Clayton State University’s Master of Archival Studies (MAS) program prepares professionals for careers in government, businesses, and collecting archives. The program emphasizes digital archives and electronic records. Because the program concentrates on archives and records, it offers a more in-depth study than students would receive in a library, information science, or public history program. Its innovative blend of traditional archival knowledge with information technology responds to the need for professionals who understand contemporary records and record-keeping systems. 

The Southwest Georgia Regional Library System serves the residents of Decatur, Miller, and Seminole Counties. The library system houses books, audiovisual materials, computers, genealogical resources, and more to serve the needs of the residents of the area. The Southwest Georgia Library for Accessible Services provides materials for blind and physically handicapped persons and serves a 22 county region in Southwest Georgia. We strive to provide the collections, reference services, and events that best serve the members of our community.

Share

The Public Library Partnerships Project

Public Library Partnerships Project

In April 2014 the Public Library Partnership Project (PLPP) launched its first one-day workshop. Since then the project has continued to mature and affect public libraries across the country.

Four Digital Public Library hubs are spearheading this project for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). These hubs include Digital Commonwealth, Digital Library of Georgia (DLG), Minnesota Digital Library, and Mountain West Digital Library. All four of these hubs have hosted multiple one-day workshops to teach public librarians the fundamentals of digitization and to connect participants to resources for further assistance.

The goal of the PLPP, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is to train public librarians in digital technologies, and to digitize their content so that more people can have access to their archival materials. Ultimately the PLPP will produce two online exhibits per hub. The digitized content from public libraries in the area will provide visual context for these exhibits. This will be a way to globally showcase the materials kept in public libraries around the country.

The Role of the Digital Library of Georgia

As a DPLA hub, the Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) plays a major role in training librarians around the state and digitizing their local content.

The DLG has already hosted three workshops for librarians. The first workshop was held in Macon, the second in Savannah, and the third in Augusta, Georgia. A total of 45 librarians attended these conferences where they learned digitization techniques and best practices.

Since these trainings the DLG has been planning and performing site-visits to libraries around the state. At these visits staff from the DLG pick up suitable materials for the PLPP project and bring them back to be digitized at the DLG office. So far, the DLG has completed 7 site-visits and come away with a total of 1715 objects to be digitized. Additionally, digitization has just begun on the first collection.

What’s Next…

The DLG will continue site-visits through early 2015 and digitization will continue through the spring of next year.  Once the digitization has been completed the DLG will begin collaborating with public librarians to create two online exhibits that showcase the materials. These exhibits will be completed by October of 2015. The DPLA will host these online exhibits, which librarians can link to from their own public library website. The ultimate goal of this project is to publicize the valuable archival collections held by public librarians around the country through these online exhibits.

Share