Monday, December 7, 2009

"A date which will live in infamy"

Today marks the 68th anniversary of America’s entry into World War II. The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is an organization that remembers those who served at Pearl Harbor. In honor of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, take a peek at their website for personal accounts, photos, and other information about this “date which will live in infamy.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tweeting WWII Memories

Twitter has become a popular way for people to share their thoughts in 140 characters or less and connect with others instantly. 90-year-old Kenneth Bailey has embraced this new form of technology as a way to share his experiences as a WWII Prisoner of War. Follow @POWKen on Twitter to read his fascinating diary. Thank you, Kenneth, for sharing your story with us. We thank you for your service.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dad's WWII Letters to Mom

Dale Baker has dedicated a blog to his father’s letters to his mother during World War II. Duke’s letters tell the story of his personal journey during the war, focusing on his devotion to Anna Mae. Revealing everything from Duke’s sharp wit to his internal struggles, these letters are a fascinating read. Plus, Dale’s commentary and keen eye for web design add to this blog’s appeal. Thank you, Dale, for sharing your parents’ WWII memories with us.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Red Cross Scrapbooks

Sharing photos online is one of the best ways to keep memories alive. Take a look at what life was like for American Red Cross workers stationed overseas and at efforts from the home front in these online scrapbooks compiled by the American Red Cross Archival Collection. Here are some tips for scanning and preserving your own photos.

Monday, September 14, 2009

How To Preserve Letters

World War II era letters offer personal insights into the war from veterans and civilians alike. Unfortunately, old letters can easily be lost or destroyed, but offers some tips for preserving historical letters for future generations:

*Keep letters in a safe, dry place above the floor (to avoid being destroyed by flooding), with moderate temperature (below 72° F), and good circulation. Avoid attics, basements or any room where temperature will fluctuate frequently.

*Make sure your letters are out of both fluorescent and natural sunlight, which can cause fading. Hallways or rooms without windows are best.

*Keep letters away from sources of heat such as radiators, fireplaces, and appliances.

*Keep letters in buffered folders, which can be found in certain office supply stores (Check with your local retailer for information). If the letter is longer than one page, it is best to put each sheet of paper in its own separate folder. However, if the letter is so frail that removing it from its envelope or separating it from its individual pages will cause damage, place everything together in a single buffered folder. (Note: Do not use standard manila office folders, as they are a source of acid.)

*Do not store letters in any kind of wooden container. Boxes or containers for home storage should be low in lignin (a substance that, along with cellulose, provides plants with their rigidity) and buffered throughout. Check with your local supply store.

*Excessive photocopying may fade your letters. It is best not to copy letters at all if they are so fragile that unfolding them and placing them flat on a copying machine will cause damage.

*Never, under any circumstances, laminate a letter you wish to preserve. The laminating process is irreversible and will ultimately ruin the letter.

*Never write on, staple, paper clip, or tape letters. If you wish to put relevant information with the letter (e.g., the date it was written, biographical information about the person who wrote it and/or received it, etc.), write it on a buffered folder or separate piece of paper. Even "post-it" notes can damage letters because they have glue on them that will mar the paper.

*Handle the letter as little as possible. The more it is folded and unfolded, the quicker it will begin to deteriorate.

*Letters should be protected from dust and dirt as much as possible. Proper housekeeping and environmental conditions will reduce the possibility of rodents and insects, which can eat and ultimately destroy your letter.

*Framing your letters will allow them to be viewed without fear of being damaged by frequent handling. It is important to check with a professional framer or paper conservator for the proper materials, as certain types of mats and framing methods can destroy your letter. Also, keep in mind that even framed letters exposed to direct light will fade over time.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Cartoonist's Experience as a Front Line Soldier

Bill Mauldin, a famous cartoonist, fought on the front line during World War II. Through his cartoons and book that he published in 1945, Mauldin provides an interesting take on the life and hardships experienced by combat soldiers. For more WWII stories, check out this website dedicated to telling eyewitness accounts from historical events.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Veterans History Project: A National Effort

Yesterday, U.S. Representative Travis Childers of Mississippi visited a high school in Columbus, MS to encourage students to participate in the Veterans History Project, a national program seeking to preserve veterans’ memories. Have any WWII memories or know a vet? Here’s more info on how to get involved in the project.

Pearl Harbor from a Child's Perspective

On this website, Alice Adams recalls the Pearl Harbor attack, which she witnessed firsthand when she was just 10 years old. Her father was an Army Air Corps crewman stationed at Hickam Field adjacent to Pearl Harbor that day. Alice’s story is one of many personal accounts compiled by Ken Arnold to create his website dedicated to memories of World War II.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Remembering Your World War II Veteran- a Great Example

This post on American flyer William Fiske from the RAF Museum is a great example of a technically proficient web design. It tells the story of one American's experience in the RAF during the Battle of Britain. While you may not have all of the resources a museum might, this still serves as a good example to follow.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Saving a Town's Memories of its Greatest Generation

We all have an interest in saving the WWII memories of family members. Vic Cleary wants to preserve the memories of his entire town. Clarksburg Ohio's Courageous: WWII is his blog that seeks to honor the service of the 222 WWII veterans from Clarksburg and its surrounding rural township, which have rich military histories dating back to the Revolutionary War. With more than 900 veterans dying each day, this is a welcome effort. The citizens of Clarksburg and the rest of us thank you, Vic, for preserving these important historical moments.

Six steps for scanning and preserving WWII photos

Blogger Tina Lyons is making the commendable step of scanning and digitizing her grandfather's WWII photos and documents. She's published a helpful list of tips at her blog site. Thanks, Tina, for sharing your ideas with others who wish to preserve valuable family memories of the War That Changed The World. Let us know when you're finished.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Classy Classroom Tribute

It's not always family who build WWII sites. Students sometimes do, too, as part of learning about the Second World War. The 9th, 10th and 11th graders at Hershey High School in Hershey, Penn., created this unique site. Jeff Mummert's American Cultures and World Cultures Honors classes fashioned a vivid, professional and colorful online experience from artifacts belonging to Mummert's grandfather, stationed with the 10th Mountain Command in Italy whose book of Bill Maudlin cartoons became a yearbook filled with notes and names of his comrades-in-arms. Intrigued by the signatures, Mummert's students began finding out what happened to the individuals, creating an Excel spreadsheet documenting who received medals (Mummert's grandfather was awarded a Bronze Star) and the home towns of the soldiers. The students discovered WWII soldiers could be just as impatient with rules and regulations as any high schooler.

"The artifacts and documents describe the experiences of a person just like themselves, and not too far from their age," Mummert says. "The Maudlin book and medal lists, in particular, reflect the heroism of American soldiers, but more importantly in the historical context they show the challenging conditions, fear, comradeship and the healthy disrespect for authority evident among the common solider."

Friday, May 22, 2009

Oral History Tips

The mission of The National World War II Museum in New Orleans is to tell the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world -- why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today -- so that all generations will understand the price of peace and be inspired by what they learn.

What better way to accomplish that than through the words of the men and women who were there?

The museum's oral history project seeks to preserve the memories of the Greatest Generation. We've given you some helpful questions to ask. Here are some other helpful tips:

* Don't feel you need high-tech equipment to record an oral history.

* Before you start, make sure you're in a quiet location where you won't be distracted. Don't forget to turn off the telephone.

* Remember to note your subject's name, the recording date and location on the tape. It's a good idea to say it at the start of the recording.

* Keep an eye on your equipment. The worst thing is to lose valuable components of a story because of a malfunction.

Monday, May 18, 2009

More Ice Breakers

A lot of people found the Nine Ice Breakers -- how to start your interview with a veteran -- very helpful. We thought we'd return to the historians at The National World War II Museum and ask them to add to their list. Here are eight new questions to ask your WWII vet that should guarantee some thoughtful answers:

* What did you think you were fighting for and how did you feel about the enemy?
* What did letters from home mean to you?
* How did WWII change you and your life?
* Did it change your values, or influence your career?
* What is your impression of WWII for America?
* Did WWII change the world? How?
* What were the positives and negatives for the US as a result of WWII?
* What is the significance of having The National WWII Museum for future generations?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Map it!

Google Maps is an interesting way to plot your veteran's journey from hometown to theater of war. Relatives of Lt. Robert M. Cohan, a US Army Air Corps navigator, traced his journey after he was shot down on Dec. 28, 1944 to his return to the good old US of A on June 21, 1945. Discover Lt. Cohan's journey.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dad's WWII & Vimeo

We like Vimeo. As you can see, it can offer users the opportunity to display higher quality video of their wartime memories than You Tube traditionally offers. But judge for yourself with this video entitled "Dad's WWII."

Dad's WWII from RWHenry on Vimeo.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tribute Pages: Templated, Fast & Easy

There are many free tools by which you can create a good-looking website devoted to your veteran without being a programming wiz or graphic designer. Tools like Blogger, which this site uses, and Squidoo, can get you up and going quickly and produce great results. Here are two examples:

Tammy Creech's Squidoo tribute to her grandfather Claud W. Creech, a hero of the Bastogne from Harlan, KY.

Craig Hullinger's Blogger site about his father Clifford's WWII unit, the 109th Engineers 34th Division. He's easily embedded video to the site.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Recording Vets

This is a video interview with Howard Simon of a B-17 bombing crew. Notice how the camera focuses only on Mr. Simon, and not on the interviewer and how the screen dissolves to an occasional close-up of a medal or other detail, as the veteran keeps talking. Such shifts help keep the viewer's attention, even though Simon's story is unusual. His bomber, damaged, landed in neutral Sweden where he was interred until the War's end.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Nine Ice Breakers

Interviewing WWII veterans can sometimes feel awkward. Potential interviewers often balk, thinking: "What should I ask?" or "How do I start?" The National World War II Museum's historians offer a list of good questions designed to get a conversation going. Here are nine starting points:

* What were you doing before the War? Were you married or single?
* Where were you when you heard about Pearl Harbor?
* Did you enlist or were you drafted?
* When and where did you enter service? What branch?
* Where was your basic training? Describe what it was like.
* How did you feel knowing you were preparing to go off to war?
* When did you deploy overseas?
* What theater of operations were you in?
* What were your initial thoughts after landing on foreign soil for the first time?

Check back soon. We'll be posting more interview tips and guidelines from the National WWII Museum soon.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hollywood Can Help

Tom Hanks has thrown his weight behind a new WWII production on the story of the Greatest Generation's fight in WWII to be shown at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Efforts by high-profile celebrities like Hanks can help in the Museum's oral history project. Check them out.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Keen on Teen Historians

To extend the reach of any oral history project enlist the help of local teenagers. Young people have little knowledge of the War, but can be trained to ask questions to veterans and get them talking. The town of Littleton, Colorado, paired its teenagers with its WWII vets, including a Pearl Harbor survivor, for their community web page Memories of WWII. Take a look at what they did. Your town can do it, too.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

What's That Noise?

Recording your WWII veteran's tale is a good idea, but before you begin taping, make sure the room you're conducting the interview is as quiet as can be. Sometimes we take background noise for granted, but the recorder won't tune it out.

Here's a check list of sounds to avoid in the interview:

1. Other conversations
2. TV or radios
3. Heating or cooling systems. Air conditioning can be noisy.
4. Chiming clocks
5. Fluorescent lighting

The National World War II Museum is working hard to preserve the memories of the Greatest Generation. Visit their web site here.

Naval Gazing

The story of the USS Champlin, a wartime naval escort (left), is well-told online. The ship, built in 1942, saw service across the Atlantic, traveling to Italy, Casablanca and Bermuda. The website authors have wisely kept the design simple, and divided into easily navigable chapters: "history", "crew" even some recorded "sounds" - a series of sound files - and a link for reunions. The crew page has created pages for anyone who served, which is especially welcome. This is a good example of how to center wartime memories around an object (the ship), and divide a multi-faceted experience into easily accessible segments.

A Simple, Well-Told Story

Sometimes a straight delivery of facts is all you need to let audiences experience the joy of a homecoming. St. Louis TV station KETC has a six-minute feature on Lavern Parker, a Missouri resident who fought in Italy with the 91st Infantry Division. He talks movingly about returning home to his family once the War ended. Note the camera zooming in on Parker's B&W portrait as a young soldier than dissolving into video of him, 91 in 2007, hugging one of his great-grandchildren today.