Call to Action #2: Archives and the Human Face of War

The experience of war has a compelling interest for many people in the United States.In fact, the Library of Congress Subject Headings categorize American history largely based on war (as opposed to the British, who use the reigns of monarchs!).  Our elected officials often draw attention to their war service, and their detractors point to those who did not serve.  From the Revolutionary War through the Civil War, two World Wars, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, and the most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of us have collections that reflect the stories and experiences of soldiers, nurses, and those “at home.”  These letters, diaries, photographs, songs, and oral histories provide very real connections and insights for many people.   

Veterans Day on November 11 and Pearl Harbor Day on December 7 provide us with an opportunity to take advantage of those existing interests to raise awareness of our holdings and the value of archives.

Click here to read national news release.

So here is another opportunity to raise awareness of the importance and value of archives—this time by building on the existing interest in military conflicts and military service.   Do one of the following activities in conjunction with Veterans Day or Pearl Harbor Day, and please let us know about what you did.

1. Tell a Story

Develop a brief “story” that explains how the use of records related to military service or life on the home front has led to an understanding of the experiences of a soldier, nurse, or of families or friends on the home front.  What impact did use of these records have on an individual or group?  

Click here for examples of stories

Submit your story

(Be sure that if you cite the names of people or organizations, they’re okay with it.)

2. Highlight Your Repository

Take advantage of Veterans Day (November 11) or Pearl Harbor Day (December 7) to raise awareness of your holdings related to military service or the home front during a time of war, by doing one of the following:

  • Contact the newsletter editor or public relations person for a military service organization with an idea for an article that draws attention to records in your archives that relate to military service. 

Tips on pitching an article idea

  • Invite your local media to visit your repository so that you can familiarize them with your military service holdings and how they’re used.  If the visit results in an article or radio/TV clip that you can share with us, you’ll get extra credit for that, too!  

Ideas for hosting a repository tour

  • Identify a particular group of users or constituents who might become strong supporters of your archival collections and give them a tour or do a talk that focuses on their interests.  With military service records, there are lots of choices, from the Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion to the Sons/Daughters of the Confederacy and the Daughters of the American Revolution to genealogical organizations whose members are seeking military service records.   



Tell us about the action(s) you took!

For more ideas on what you can do to help raise awareness of archives this fall, see SAA’s American Archives Month webpage.