University student veterans invited to record personal accounts

Transcribed histories to be featured in new Shared History booth; workshop presented by Library of Congress on campus Thursday

2/18/2014 | By: Patrick Harris  |

History is multifaceted and layered with stories. On Thursday, Feb. 20, the Reno-Sparks community has the opportunity to learn how to record personal accounts and contribute to a national project.

Part of a nationwide history project sponsored by the Washington D.C. Library of Congress, the University of Nevada, Reno's Shared History Program will host a workshop to teach attendees how to record personal accounts. The project is specifically to document the stories of military veterans, though workshop attendees can apply their newfound skills on any interview. Audio recordings taken of military veterans will be archived in the national library as well as the University's records.

"It's an honor and great opportunity to participate in this high level of a project and actually gather veterans' stories," Jeanne Harrah-Johnson, lecturer at the University and oral history specialist for the Shared History Program, said. "It will be very powerful."

Community members, including college students, veterans, and military and ROTC officers, are invited to attend the training. Volunteers will receive hands-on training from Paul Ferris, a historical records expert who has been working with the Library of Congress. Ferris will discuss how volunteers can collect information, maintain professionalism and document accurate oral histories of family, friends or veterans.

"We certainly hope that everyone who attends will take away great information about how to conduct an oral history," Elizabeth Raymond, a history professor for the University, said. "We hope anyone interested in oral history will come to the training and get solid information about how to do it, such as professionalism and proper steps to document speech, collect photos and preserve the history."

Following the training, volunteers will get the chance to practice by interviewing a veteran. Those interested in helping document for the Veteran's Project will be able to interview members of the public and document their experiences.

"It's about the veterans' experiences and their stories and motivations," Harrah-Johnson said. "Interviewers will be able to gather the perspective of the individuals."

The subsequent oral histories of the Veteran's Project will also be integrated into the University's Shared History Program's upcoming student veteran's project. Any related student veteran's oral histories will be compiled by University College of Liberal Arts history students into a virtual display.

"Military is a culture and education is a culture and we want to see how that overlaps," Harrah-Johnson said. "Why would a veteran go to college after their service? Why go to college first and then into the military? We are hoping to explore how their culture overlaps with the University's and tell a comprehensive story about what it means to be a student veteran."

The training workshop is from 5:30-8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 20, at the William Raggio Education Building, room 2003. Participation is free; however, preregistration is mandatory by contacting Jeanne Harrah-Johnson at or 775-224-5151.

More information about the Veteran's History Project is also available through the coordinator of the Shared History Program, Anita Watson, who can be reached at or 775-682-6466.

The Shared History Program, which began in 2013, works in conjunction with the University's history department to compile oral, public and digital information and accounts. The program's first project, the Linn Exhibit, recounts President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963 from the eyes and ears of the University's first journalism dean, Travis Linn. It will be on display at the Shared History Lab in the University's Mack Social Science building until the Veteran's Project is assembled and displayed in it's stead.


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