FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
How did the Morse Institute Library’s Veterans Oral History Project start?
The Morse Institute Library’s Veterans Oral History Project in 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. (See About the Project)
In 2000, the United States Congress created the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, whose purpose is to collect oral history interviews, memoirs, letters, diaries, photographs and other original materials from veterans and from those civilians who were actively involved in supporting war efforts. The Morse Institute Library has partnered with the Library of Congress in this project; however, we do not send our interviews to the Library of Congress, as they are housed and available to the public at the Morse Institute Library. Additional information about the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress can be obtained from the website at: www.loc.gov/folklife/vets.
Is the Morse Institute Library’s Veterans Oral History Project collecting only oral histories?
Yes! Staff and volunteers interview veterans from Massachusetts and those who supported them, as well as veterans of foreign armed forces. These stories are recorded with a video camera and made available on DVD. Interviews are also available on video. Print items such as photos and service documents and medals can be incorporated in the interview. These items can be scanned for the Project’s collection and the original returned, if requested.
Will my name appear on the Morse Institute Library’s Veterans Oral History Project online database?
Yes! However, after you have been interviewed, please allow the library staff time to properly preserve, house, and catalog the materials. Information contained in the database is based on the participants’ own recollections of their service history.
Does the Morse Institute Library’s Veterans Oral History Project verify the stories it receives?
The Morse Institute Library does not verify the accuracy of these accounts. The oral histories are expressions of the views, memories and opinions of the interviewees. They do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Morse Institute Library. The DVDs are made available to the public with the consent of the interviewees.
What information is made public in Morse Institute Library’s Veterans Oral History Project online database?
The only information that will appear in the online database is name, branch of service, specific war or conflict, and a brief overview of the veteran’s interview. When available, photographs are also included on the website. The entries also include video and audio versions of the interview.
I’m not a military veteran, but I contributed to the war effort as a civilian. Do you want my story?
Yes! The Morse Institute Library’s Veterans Oral History Project invites Massachusetts residents who served from the home front as well as from the battlefield to be interviewed. Any veteran or civilian who was actively involved in supporting war efforts such as the following has a story in which we are interested.
- Industry workers (e.g.: “Rosie the Riveter”)
- USO workers
- Flight instructors
- Medical volunteers
- Members of foreign armed forces
How can I be interviewed?
If you are a Massachusetts resident and would like to be interviewed at the Morse Institute Library in Natick, Massachusetts, you can contact Maureen Sullivan, Coordinator of the Natick Veterans Oral History Project, at 508-647-6400, ext. 1533, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you reside outside of Massachusetts and would like to be interviewed, you can view the Library of Congress website at www.loc.gov/folklife/vets/partners. Insert the state in which you live to locate an organization that has partnered with the Library of Congress. You can then contact that organization for further instructions.
I don’t live in Massachusetts, but would like to contribute my story and materials. How is this done?
You can view the Library of Congress website at www.loc.gov/folklife/vets/partners and insert the state in which you live to locate an organization that has partnered with the Library of Congress. You can then contact that organization for further instructions.
I would like to interview a family member from my home. How do you suggest this be done?
Home interviews can be conducted with a good-quality audio cassette player or with a video camera (iPads and smartphones may also be used).
If you are using a cellphone or iPad, a tripod is a must. The microphones within the cellphone or iPad are sufficient; just make sure there is no other noise in the interview area, such as traffic, vents, refrigerators, etc. Also, make sure the lighting is sufficient; avoid placing the subject in front of windows or anywhere there is more light in the background than in the foreground.
Most cameras and editing software will output the video as an H.264 file; this should be fine as sites such as YouTube and Archive.org will encode the file once it’s uploaded.
Here is a list of sample questions used by the Oral History Project:
The website of the Veterans Oral History Center at the Library of Congress (www.loc.gov/folklife/vets/partners) has more information about how to conduct the interview, along with how to submit the interview to the LOC.
You should talk to the interviewee beforehand about what will be discussed in the interview and be sure the interviewee is comfortable with the project.
What does the Morse Institute Library’s Veterans Oral History Project not collect?
The Project greatly values and appreciates veterans’ stories from additional service arenas, and the interviews will be processed as resources allow. The Project doesn’t collect 3-dimensional artifacts, such as medals, canteens, dog tags, helmets and uniforms. Photographs and print items for those being interviewed, such as maps or discharge papers, may be used in the tape and added to the Morse Institute Library archives.
Is the Morse Institute Library’s Veterans Oral History Project interested only in World War II?
No! The mission of the Veterans Oral History Project is to capture on DVD, as well as house, catalog and index the recollections of men and women who have served their country in the armed forces, from World War II to Iraq/Afghanistan. In addition, we will tape those who have helped on the home front in Massachusetts during World War II (i.e.: border or light patrollers, factory workers).
How can I borrow a copy of an interview or a collection?
To borrow a DVD or other material, go to the Minuteman Library Network online catalog at www.mln.lib.ma.us. This catalog includes Morse Institute’s collection of veterans oral history DVDs and thousands of titles of military interest. They may be borrowed directly from the Morse Institute Library in Natick or requested for delivery to your public library using the Inter-library loan network. Check with your public library for more information.
I live in Massachusetts and have made a recording of my history as a veteran. Can I send this to you?
Unfortunately, due to limited space, we are unable to accept recordings from veterans who have not been interviewed by Morse Institute Library. However, you can contact the Library of Congress at www.loc.gov/folklife/vets/partners and insert the state of Massachusetts to locate an organization that has partnered with the Library of Congress. You can then contact that organization for further instructions.
What war memorials are available in the community for viewing?
The library houses four veterans’ memorials. First, the foyer of the original library houses the World War I Peace Memorial. The Peace Memorial is a beautiful, quiet area with stained glass windows and bronze engravings. Second, most of Natick’s veterans from World War II, Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War are listed on bronze plaques on the exterior of the library building arcade. Third, on Memorial Day 2007, the Natick Veterans Council installed a memorial bench in honor of all of the Natick women who have served in the armed forces. Fourth, a memorial stone on the library grounds honors those who served in the Revolutionary War.
The Natick Common is the site of the Civil War and Spanish American War memorials, and nearby on Route 27 is Moran Park, a lovely garden memorial. At the VFW post on West Central Street is a memorial honoring those from Natick and Massachusetts killed in action. There are also a number of memorial bridges and squares located throughout the community.
Does the Morse Institute allow the use of these interviews for commercial purposes?
NO! Because of the nature of the Project, which is to preserve and collect oral histories, the Morse Institute does not permit interviews to be used for commercial purposes, nor does it give (or sell) photos and documents used in these interviews. Those requesting such items are asked to contact the veteran, the veteran’s family or estate.