In 2013 and 2014, SPOHP partnered with organizations around Alachua County, at the University of Florida, and the nation as research allies and supporters of community oral history projects.
Veterans History Project at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, Washington, DC
The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center 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. Stories can be told through personal narrative, correspondence, and visual materials. The 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)
- 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 valuable stories.
The United States Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000. The authorizing legislation (Public Law 106-380), sponsored by Representatives Ron Kind, Amo Houghton, and Steny Hoyer in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senators Max Cleland and Chuck Hagel in the U.S. Senate, received unanimous support and was signed into law by President William Jefferson Clinton on October 27, 2000. AARP is the founding corporate sponsor of the Veterans History Project. In addition to providing initial major funding for the Project, AARP also spread the word to its legion of volunteers and almost 37 million members, encouraging them to get involved. Numerous state chapters have also been involved in the Project.
The Veterans History Project at SPOHP was established in 2000, when the LOC approached SPOHP to collect oral histories with World War II veterans in Florida.
Crooked Fences Military Tribute Website
Crooked Fences, a military tribute website, honors the more than 21,000 men and women veterans that live in the Alachua County community. Crooked Fences provides information for veterans interested in contributing to SPOHP’s Veterans History Project, and hosts the original SPOHP documentary, “I Just Wanted to Live!” online in both long and abridged versions. “I Just Wanted to Live!”, released in 2008, was the first documentary produced by SPOHP, and focused on oral histories with survivors of the Bataan Death March during World War II.
The Alachua County Library and Alachua County Jail, Gainesville, Florida
The Alachua County Library at the Alachua County Jail partner with the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program to process interviews in the Veterans History Project. The library, which operates within the jail, enlists inmate volunteers in the project and trains them to complete audio logs, which will eventually be submitted to the Library of Congress archives.
The program aims to provide inmates with the benefit of computer practice and increased potential for later job opportunities, and was featured in the Gainesville Sun in 2010, “History project helping inmates turn lives around,” by Kimberly C. Moore.
“It’s like we’re out of jail for a few minutes. We come here to the library to escape. . . It’s intellectually interesting – you learn from it.”
-Melissa Willcoxon, 2010
Porter’s Quarters, Gainesville, Florida
Porter’s Quarters, one of Gainesville’s oldest and most historic African American neighborhoods, was established in 1884 by Dr. Watson Porter, a Canadian physician. Porter established Porters Addition and sold lots exclusively to African Americans, many of whom worked in the nearby railroad yards and industrial sites. Volunteer Gigi Simmons interviews elders in the Porters area, and her interviews with elders who are veterans will be added to the VHP archives.
The Matheson Museum Complex, Gainesville, Florida
The Alachua County Historic Trust: Matheson Museum, Inc. is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of Alachua County, Florida, and partners with the Veterans History Project for interview resources and events. The Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, in operation since 1994. The Museum complex includes 4 sites: the Matheson Museum, housing the exhibit hall and research library, the Matheson House, the Tison Tool Museum, and Sweetwater Park.
Veterans for Peace, Gainesville Chapter 14, Gainesville, FL
The Gainesville Veterans for Peace chapter, established by military veterans dedicated to organizing for the cause of world peace, partners with the Veterans History Project to record oral histories in interviews with volunteers and students. SPOHP and VFP also collaborate on event promotion, including the VFP’s annual Memorial Mile and Peace Poetry contest in Alachua County schools.