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Veterans History Project

In 2000, the United States Congress created the Veterans History Project (VHP) as part of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress (LOC). VHP’s mission is to collect, preserve, and make accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so future generations can better understand the realities of war. We, as court reporters, have the talent and resources to capture the stories of these Veterans. What is a Veteran? “A Veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America" for an amount of "up to and including my life." ~ unknown author. Please consider taking part in this rewarding project as we are losing the stories, all a part of our history, by the loss of a myriad of these heroes every single day.

A Veterans History Project is very easy to do, whether it is done with several Veterans and court reporters or one-on-one. And the cost to the Veteran? It is free.They have already paid the price by serving our country.

The Library of Congress provides you with a detailed description of the Veterans' History project as well as a video which is a valuable tool in becoming familiar with this project (www.loc.gov/vets/). The necessary forms can also be found on their website at www.loc.gov/vets/kitmenu.html.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has been a partner with the Library of Congress in the Veterans’ History Project since November, 2003, and officially launched the Illinois Veterans’ History Project in November, 2005. The Illinois Veterans’ History Project began with the collection of written information about Illinois Veterans through the use of the Illinois Patriot Information Form. In September, 2007, the Secretary of State’s office entered the next phase of the project, collecting oral (audio and video) histories of Illinois Veterans. These histories are now available through the Illinois Digital Archives. Sue Burkholder, Illinois Veterans’ History Project Coordinator, Illinois State Library, may accompany you to the interviews and videotape them! She can also serve as the interviewer. You may contact Ms. Burkholder at sburkholder@ilsos.net.The Illinois State Library forms may be found at www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/library/public/pdfs/isl-interviewer-release.pdf and http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/library/public/pdfs/isl-veteran-release.pdf.

You can find all the required forms for a Veterans’ interview as well as step-by-step instructions below. Please use these forms and this guide whether you are taking the interview of just one Veteran or are hosting a VHP with many Veterans.

Before you begin, you will want to download a Field Kit which is from the Library of Congress. This provides great information and required forms. You only need to download this once and retain as a reference when you prepare any Veteran interview transcripts.

You will also want to have A Guide to Transcribing and Editing Oral History Interviews. You only need to download this once and retain as a reference when preparing any Veteran interview transcripts. This provides important instructions for the court reporter, including information on accepted media and format standards and how to submit the interviews to the Library of Congress (LOC). It also includes the required court reporter’s Gratuitous Service Agreement which must be returned with each transcript.

The packet for the Veteran to be interviewed will consist of:  VHP Veteran Letter (which gives the Veteran instructions as to the forms), and the required forms for the Veteran which are the Veteran’s Release Form and Biographical form from the Library of Congress (LOC) as well as the Veteran’s Release form and Illinois Patriot Information form from the Illinois State Library (ISL). Please never forget to thank a Veteran for their service to our country.

Anyone can interview the Veteran – the Veteran’s spouse, your spouse, a family member, friend or neighbor. Sue Burkholder from the Illinois State Library (ISL) can videotape the interview and can conduct the interview as well. The packet for the Interviewer will consist of:  VHP Interviewer letter for each interview to take place (this gives the Interviewer instructions as to the forms, etc), Sample Questions, and the required Release Forms for both the Library of Congress (LOC) and the Illinois State Library (ISL).

And now it is your turn – the court reporter. For each Veteran’s interview, you will need the following forms:  VHP Court Reporter letter (which gives you some instructions on what needs to be submitted to the Library of Congress (LOC) and the Illinois State Library (ISL), a Gratuitous Service Agreement as well as the PDC Credit Request Form, and a Cover Letter, which will accompany your transcript to the Library of Congress (LOC). The Gratuitous Service Agreement is required and must be returned with each transcript. You will submit a hard copy of the transcript, a CD with the copy of the transcript in .txt format, a VHP CD/DVD if applicable, and the completed forms of the Veteran, the Interviewer, and you. If you have recorded two interviews of two Veterans, then you will need to send the required documents in two separate envelopes.

The format and transcript guidelines for the Veteran’s interviews may be found in the Guide to Transcribing and Editing Oral History Interviews (such as no line numbers or borders, no headers or footers, etc). You may also find them on the link below under “Creating and Editing Transcripts.”

Your work is almost finished. You may find the requirements of how to submit the Veteran’s transcript, forms, CD, etc., to the Library of Congress LOC) in the Field Kit, page 3. For a quick review, you may also find it under the link below “Submit.” To avoid damages caused by the Library of Congress' special security screening process, do not use the U.S. Postal Service. You can send the required forms and copies to the Illinois State Library using U.S. Postal Service.

Each interview must be a minimum of one-half hour in length or the Library of Congress cannot accept the interview. The Illinois State Library, though, can accept interviews which are less than 30 minutes.  

Please make sure you provide the Veteran with a copy of their VHP interview (and audio on CD) to pass down to their children and grandchildren. The State Library will provide the Veteran with a copy of the video. The audio and video interviews are at the Illinois State Library YouTube site: https://www.youtube.com/user/ilveteransproject. What a wonderful gift for the Veteran to be able to share his/her part in America’s history with their family! 

This project is not complicated. Listening to a Veteran’s story will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your career. Try it once and you will be hooked! Use your talents to help preserve a little bit of our country’s history. "While only one day of the year is dedicated solely to honoring our Veterans, Americans must never forget the sacrifices that many of our fellow countrymen have made to defend our country and protect our freedoms." ~ Randy Neugebauer. Please take part in VHPs so the sacrifices made by our brave patriots and their families will never be forgotten. 

Per the Library of Congress:  These are some of the statements made by Veterans who have taken part in a VHP:  “I am profoundly proud and honored that my story will be permanently archived in the Veterans History Project with the stories of tens of thousands of fellow American Veterans who, as a matter of honor and duty, served their country in time of war.” 'Our individual experiences may have been different, but when compled they form a powerful snapshot of history." For more information on the Veterans’ History Project or for brochures to distribute with the LOC VHP information, you may visit the Library of Congress website at www.loc.gov/vets.

For more information on the Illinois Veterans’ History Project, you may visit the ISL website at: http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/library/public/veteransproject.html

If you have any questions regarding the Veterans’ History Project, please do not hesitate to contact ILCRA VHP Chairman Jill Layton at Jill.LaytonCSR@gmail.com or 217-849-3871 (work).  

Links to documents:

For the court reporter to download only once to use as a reference for all interviews:

·       VHP Field Kit (Library of Congress)

·        A Guide to Transcribing and Editing Oral History Interviews

For the Veteran’s Packet:

·         VHP Veteran Letter

·         LOC Veteran’s Release Form

·        LOC Biographical Form

·         ISL Illinois Patriot Information Form

For the Interviewer’s Packet:

·        VHP Interviewer Letter

·         Sample Questions

·        LOC & ISL Interviewer’s Release Form

For the Court Reporter:

·        VHP Court Reporter Letter

·         Gratuitous Agreement

·         PDC Credit Request Form

·         Cover Letter 

Quick Reference for the Court Reporter:

·        Creating and Editing a VHP Transcript

·         Submit and Process

 



 

 

 

 



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