As we lose our elderly veterans at an alarming rate, the Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center, part of the Library of Congress, becomes deeply important. According to its mission statement, this project “collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from the veterans and better understand the realities of war.”

Items collected include personal taped interviews, written narratives and diaries, correspondence such as letters, postcards and v-mail, and visual images and materials including photographs, drawings and scrapbooks.

The project collects first-hand accounts of veterans from all recent wars, operations, conflicts and peacekeeping missions in the 20th and 21st centuries – from World War I to the Afghan and Iraq wars. The AARP is the founding corporate sponsor of the Veterans History Project.

According to the site, “A participant may be a veteran, an interviewer, or person donating a veteran’s collection... Students in the 10th grade and above may also participate and there are special resources for educators and students.” In addition, “the Veterans History Project provides an ideal opportunity for a Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout Service Project or Girl Scouts Gold Award Project.”

If you have a collection of a veteran’s artifacts or know a living veteran that you would like to interview, visit https://www.loc.gov/vets/vets-home.html to learn more.

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A free webinar by American Ancestors (part of the New England Historic Genealogical Society) is set for Dec. 17. “Tips for Interviewing Relatives” will be presented live by Stephanie Call, associate director of Archives and Education, from 3 to 4 p.m. Indiana time and 2 to 3 p.m. Illinois time.

According to the class description, “The oral tradition of a family is perhaps just as important as the evidence you find in document-based research. Even if you learn that not all of the details are 100% accurate, these stories provide important clues to begin — or continue — your research, give life to names and dates on a page, and may provide information not found in records. But how do you start the conversation, stay on track, and record the information provided? This webinar will offer some valuable tips and techniques for interviewing relatives—and suggest strategies for encouraging family to talk!”

Register for the webinar at shorturl.at/afAD9.

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