WWII Oral Histories Project

The Project

The WWII Oral History Project uniquely captures what is described as the whole-life approach of the WWII veteran’s experience. Unlike many other veteran oral histories projects that tend to focus specifically on a veteran’s years of service and particular sites of battle, our project expands the focus to a veteran’s entire life story and social context. Veterans were asked to speak about their childhood memories, family, upbringing, and memories of life before service alongside their individual experience in the war. Additionally, they describe life following their war experiences, and this discussion offers important insights into how they readjusted to civilian life and processed what they had seen in combat. This whole-life approach offers researchers a more contextualized and long-term view of how war affects both individuals and societies. These interviews powerfully capture the experiences and memories of a diverse group of American veterans from all regions of the country, from Medal of Honor winners to Navajo code talkers, intelligence officers to Army engineers, nurses to Marines, and many other veterans, each offering in their own voice a unique perspective on conflict.

This whole-life approach offers researchers a more contextualized and long-term view of how war affects individuals and societies. These interviews strongly capture the experiences and memories of veterans from all of America; from Medal of Honor recipients to Navajo code talkers, intelligence officers to engineers, and nurses to Marines among many others, each interview offers a unique perspective.

The UTK Special Collections Library and the Center for the Study of War and Society are making UT-Knoxville a national center for the military records of those who participated in America’s battles, victories, crises, and other major events. We are collecting letters, diaries, photos, memoirs, and small unit histories so they can be preserved properly. They will be available for anyone who has an interest in learning about the war. Since the project began in 1984 we have received thousands of contributions to this growing collection.

If you or a family member served in the military and would like to participate in an oral history interview, please contact CSWS at csws@utk.edu (865) 974-0128, or write to:

The Center for the Study of War and Society
217 Hoskins Library
Knoxville, TN 37996-4008

If interested in donating to the archival collection please contact Special Collections at special@utk.edu (865) 974-4480, or write to:

Special Collections
121 Hodges Library
1015 Volunteer Boulevard
Knoxville, TN 37996-9427