The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.
Project collects first-hand accounts of U.S. Veterans from the following wars: World War I (1914-1920), World War II (1939-1946), Korean War (1950-1955), Vietnam War (1961-1975), Persian Gulf War (1990-1995), and the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts (2001-present)
In addition, those U.S. citizen civilians who were actively
involved in supporting war efforts (such as war industry workers, USO workers,
flight instructors, medical volunteers, etc.) are also invited to share their
Stories can be told through personal narratives (audio and video-taped
interviews and written memoirs, Correspondence, and visual materials like
photographs, drawings, and scrapbooks.
The database is searchable. Filters exist to limit search by conflict, branch
of service, POWs, and gender. You can also limit the search for just digitized entries or just transcripts. I did a casual
search on the name “Smith” and filtered it by WWI and Army. One of the hits I
got had no digitized material with it, but the record it it displayed for me
was filled with transcribed information. Another hit had digitized
correspondence, military documents like general orders, and a diary.
If you don’t have an ancestor represented in the database, you may find one of
his buddies, or something about his unit. That can lead to a greater
appreciation of your ancestor’s life because he went through the same things
Check it out at http://www.loc.gov/vets/vets-home.html