Commission collecting World War II veteran stories

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By The Staff

America loses hundreds of World War II veterans every day. With them go invaluable eyewitness accounts of a pivotal time in history. The Kentucky Historical Society is working to preserve stories of the WWII years, both from combat and from the homefront.

"Through the work of the Kentucky Oral History Commission, a network of trained oral historians has been talking with Kentucky veterans and recording their stories," says Sarah Milligan, the Kentucky Oral History Commission program coordinator at the Kentucky Historical Society.

"These stories will become part of the Kentucky Oral History Commission archive and will be accessible through the Historical Society Web site."

In addition to the 30 interviews being collected as a part of this recent initiative, the commission holds about 100 interviews which discuss WWII topics. Those interested in WWII interviews can also share their stories through the Veteran's Oral History projects conducted through the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville oral history programs.

Kentuckians interested in partnering with the Commission for Veteran's Oral History documentation at a local level may contact Sarah Milligan at (502) 564-1792 Ext. 4434.

Veterans can also participate in the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, which collects materials for the national historical archives in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit the Library of Congress Web site at www.loc.gov/vets.

On Saturday, Jan. 12, oral history will be the focus of KHS' monthly family-history workshop at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in Frankfort. At 10:30 a.m., participants will learn techniques for conducting good oral histories including how to create a list of questions and tips for handling equipment. At 12:30 p.m., Sarah Milligan will discuss in more detail this new project to record the stories of Kentucky's WWII veterans and will talk about other oral history resources held by KHS.

A light lunch is available at a cost of $5, payable at the door. Registration by noon on Friday, Jan. 11, is required. For information or to register, contact the Kentucky Historical Society library reference desk at (502) 564-1792 Ext. 4460 or by e-mail at refdesk@ky.gov.

The Kentucky Oral History Commission is a nationally recognized program that has provided for the collection of more than 25,000 oral history interviews. From tenant farmers and lay midwives to political leaders and nationally acclaimed authors, the Kentucky Oral History Commission reaches across the state to record and preserve the diverse stories that are a part of Kentucky's rich and colorful history.

A grant program that provides financial and technical assistance to academic and community oral historians is responsible for the collection of the majority of interviews. The commission also offers workshops, sponsors state conferences, and participates in collaborative projects with other agencies and institutions.

For more information, visit the KHS Web site at www.history.ky.gov.