UF oral history program honors Memorial Day through voices of veterans
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — This Memorial Day, the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida is honoring those who have served America in the armed forces by gathering, preserving, and promoting their stories via the program’s newly revamped Memorial Day website, which may be accessed at: www.history.ufl.edu/oral. All of the stories featured in this news release appear on the new site.
SPOHP has more than 200 oral history interviews with military war veterans, all of which are being made accessible to scholars and the public. The collection includes interviews with survivors of the Bataan Death March, soldiers who took part in the liberation of Nazi concentration camps and American Civil War veterans. In the spring of 2011, UF undergraduates interviewed members of Gainesville’s nationally acclaimed chapter of Veterans for Peace.
Featured on SPOHP’s Memorial Day website is the program’s new research collaboration with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project, which is building a public archive featuring the experiences of Florida veterans from World War II to the present. The Library of Congress will create a website featuring a short audio biography for each veteran that details information about his or her service.
Also on the Memorial Day website is a video recording of Rick Atkinson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who spoke at UF in 2008 about “The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944,” a book about the Europe’s liberation during World War II.
SPOHP is using YouTube video podcasts as a vehicle to promote the narratives of American military veterans. These podcasts feature highlights of full-length interviews that are accompanied by a visual slide show. One of the slide shows features the narrative of George Sternfels, a World War II veteran who recounts his experience of being wounded on D-Day during the Allied invasion of France.
SPOHP’s audio podcast series is also available through iTunes and features an interview with Pauline Pepper, a nurse who treated wounded soldiers, sailors, and airmen aboard troop ships in the European Theater in World War II.
In addition to audio interviews, SPOHP has a collection of written transcripts of its veterans interviews in the UF Digital Library Center. One such transcript is an interview with Bernard Mellman, a soldier in World War II who tells about training for combat, the liberation of Dachau concentration camp in Germany, and his life after the war.
SPOHP has used its oral histories with Bataan Death March survivors to create a documentary film titled “I Just Wanted to Live.” This documentary as well as the program’s audio podcasts and written transcripts are used by high school teachers, scholars and independent researchers, as well as veteran’s organizations to present first-hand stories of the experiences of Americans soldiers, sailors, marines, nurses, and others who have served the nation in war and in peace.
For more information about the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program please contact us at 352- 392-7168 or visit www.history.ufl.edu/oral.