The Natick Veterans Oral History Project at the Morse Institute Library, Natick, Mass., has been in existence since 1998, when Natick’s only Pearl Harbor survivor, Eugene Dugdale, approached the library with concerns that many World War II veterans were passing away without telling their stories. Thus, with help from local veterans’ organizations, the project began.
The mission of the Veterans Oral History Project is to collect and preserve the personal recollections of those men and women who have served their country in the armed forces past and present. The Project also collects the recollections of those who have helped on the home front during World War II (i.e., border or light patrollers, factory workers). We store their stories on DVD and provide cataloging and indexing of the collection.
The focus is on firsthand accounts of veterans, including those from the following wars:
- World War II (1939-1946)
- Korean Conflict (1950-1955)
- Vietnam War (1961-1975)
- Persian Gulf War (1990-1991)
- Afghanistan and Iraq Conflicts (2001-present)
In addition, the following Massachusetts residents are invited to share their experiences:
- War industry workers (e.g.: “Rosie the Riveter”)
- USO workers
- Flight instructors
- Medical volunteers
- Members of foreign armed forces
The Natick Veterans Oral History Project works in collaboration with numerous organizations, including the Library of Congress, state and local veterans’ organizations, Natick Public Schools and the local cable access station (Natick Pegasus). The Project is supported by public and private funding, including ongoing support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We are grateful for the help given by many in financial support of this project.
Veterans may be interviewed in a private setting at the Morse Institute Library in Natick, in the veteran’s home or other site (such as a senior center). The interviews are copied onto DVDs, one of which is archived at the library. The second one is cataloged and made available for public use, and the third DVD is given to the veteran as a personal history.
As of 2018, the Project included more than 300 interviews available on DVD, and the collection continues to grow. Also, video and audio versions of interviews are being posted on the website; the audio may be downloaded onto an Mp3 player.
The Morse Institute Library receives requests from all over the world to borrow DVDs and videos from the Veterans Oral History Collection. These materials may be borrowed through the Inter-Library system of most public libraries.
The library, with support from several grants from the state, has purchased books, DVDs, and Books on CD on related subjects. These include personal narratives of wartime and home front experiences, regimental histories, New England and Massachusetts participation in wartime events, materials on military strategy and the art of warfare, and the history of war and wars from ancient times to the present.
The library also makes available documents dating back to the pre-Civil War period. A number of the items have been duplicated for use by the public; the remainder of the collection is housed in the archives of the Morse Institute Library. Contact the Morse Institute Library Reference Department at 508 647-6521 for more information.
The hundreds of hours of the many volunteers who have worked on this project are deeply appreciated. Special accolades go to John Coates, the late Robert Dunbar, Joan Craig and the late Paula Polk for their hours of meaningful service to this project.