Veterans Oral History Project
The Veterans History Project is an initiative of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress that was created through an act of the United States Congress in 2000. The local efforts to interview and record veteran oral histories as a part of the Veterans History Project were taken up by several volunteers including this collection’s donor and Ypsilanti Rotary Club volunteer, William “Bill” Vollano and Eastern Michigan University Professor of History JoEllen Vinyard. For over a decade from 2004 until 2015, Bill and other volunteers recorded interviews with local Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, and Metro Detroit veterans. In the early years of the project, the Library of Congress required all interviews to be recorded on a Mini DV tape in order for the interview to be digitized by the Library of Congress in Washington and uploaded to their website.
Bill Vollano eventually amassed a collection of 142 Mini DV tapes of veteran oral histories conducted by him and other volunteers, including Eastern Michigan University faculty and students. Despite digitial copies being sent to the Library of Congress, Mr. Vollano retained all of the 142 original Mini DV tapes.
- 2004 - 2020
- Vollano, William (Person)
1.6 Linear Feet (4 archive boxes)
Language of Materials
The oral history interviews that constitute the Veterans History Project collection of the Eastern Michigan University Archives were donated by local Ypsilanti resident and volunteer William "Bill" Vollano. Vollano volunteered his time in as a representative of the Ypsilanti Rotary Club to conduct the oral history interviews. Many of the interviews were conducted by Vollano himself and was aided by several other volunteer interviewers, including faculty and students from Eastern Michigan University. Bill Vollano was in possession of the 142 Mini DV tape recordings from the beginning of the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress in 2004 until his donation of the collection to the Eastern Michigan University Archives in the fall of 2021. The oral history interviews include veterans from every American significant American conflict since the Second World War, and also include oral histories from women who worked at the Willow Run Assembly Plant manufacturing the B-27 bomber.
The original Mini-DV tapes were donated in 2021 for preservation, and with permission from the Library of Congress the University Archives was able to make metadata for all of the interviews available on the Eastern Michigan University Archive website. Interviews range in length from 15-30 minutes and follow a set of scripted questions provided by the Library of Congress. Veteran stories speak to World War II (European and Pacific Fronts); Korea, Vietnam, the American Homefront, and conflicts in the Middle East. While some voices from women are included, they do not represent the bulk of the collection which is primarily World War II veterans.
Existence and Location of Originals
Links to Veterans History Project: A Project of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. Includes, if possible, biographical information, a digital copy of the interview, and digitized personal documents.
The Eastern Michigan University Archives, with permission from the Library of Congress, created a landing page for the interviews donated by Mr. Vollano [https://omeka.emich.edu/s/Sounds/page/VHPall].
Graduate Student Assistant Archivist Connor K. Ashley was responsible for the processing, digitization, and creation of metadata for the Veterans History Project collection. As a part of the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress, many of the interviews had already been digitized and available for use on the Library of Congress Veterans History Project website. The first step in processing was the creation of a digital file in ArchivesSpace database. The next step in processing was identifying which interviews had already been digitized by the Library of Congress and those that would need to be digitized by Connor. After identifying 42 interviews that were not already available on the LOC website, digitization of each individual tape was required. Because of the Mini DV tape medium, digitization required care as not to play the tape more than was required. Of the 42 that needed to be digitized by the EMU Archives, six did not function. Of the six, four copies of those interviews were located at the Ypsilanti Historical Society Archives. Once each interview had been digitized, it would be uploaded to the Eastern Michigan University Archives YouTube channel. Of the total 142 interviews donated to the EMU Archives, only two were unable to be found on the LOC website or digitized by Connor and the University Archives. After the process of digitization, each interview’s contents and the interviewees biographical data was placed into a metadata spreadsheet. Once the metadata process was complete, each interview was connected from either the LOC website or YouTube with its metadata to create an archived file in Digital Commons. The last part of processing included the creation of a webpage on the University Archives Omeka website highlighting each interview as a part of the area of conflict in which they served.
- Vollano, William (Person)
- Veterans History Project collection
- Connor K. Ashley
- 28 Feburary 2022
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Eastern Michigan University Archives Repository
Bruce T. Halle Library, Room 310
955 West Circle Drive
Ypsilanti Michigan 48197