1st Edition

Practicing Oral History with Military and War Veterans

By Sharon Raynor Copyright 2023
    180 Pages
    by Routledge

    180 Pages
    by Routledge

    Practicing Oral History with Military and War Veterans focuses predominantly on conducting oral history with men and women of recent wars and military conflicts.

    The book provides a structured methodology for building interest and trust among veterans to conduct interviews, design oral history projects, and archive and use these oral history interviews. It includes background on the evolution of veterans oral history, the nuts and bolts of interviewing, ethical guidelines, procedures, and the overall value of veterans oral history. The methodology emphasizes how memory evolves over the years - when a veteran becomes more distant from the events of war, the experiences become individualized and personalized for each veteran based on location, time, place, and purpose of their service. The book also aims to improve understanding of the personal, ethical, and psychological issues involved in listening compassionately to veterans’ stories that may contain issues of trauma, gender, socio-economics, race, dis/ability, and ethnicity. 

    Practicing Oral History with Military and War Veterans is an invitation to community scholars, students, oral historians, and families of veterans to actively participate in the oral history process and to embrace methodology that may help with designing and conducting oral history projects and interviewing war veterans.



    Section I: Introduction

    Chapter 1: My Story

    Chapter 2: Overview and Evolution of Military and Veterans Oral History

    Chapter 3: Personal Connections to Veterans Oral History

    Section II: Issues Common in Veterans Oral History

    Chapter 4: Best Practices and Ethical Guidelines

    Chapter 5: Race, Ethnicity, Class, Dis/Ability and Gender in the Military [among Veterans]

    Chapter 6: Trust, Trauma and the Human Factor

    Chapter 7: The Nature of Memory and Silence

    Section III: Conducting a Veterans Oral History Project

    Chapter 8: Project Design and Preparation

    Chapter 9: Recording Techniques

    Chapter 10: Interviewing Techniques

    Chapter 11: Interviewing War Veterans

    Section IV: After the Interview 

    Chapter 12: Transcribing and Archiving

    Chapter 13: Using Veterans Oral History

    Chapter 14: The Value of Veterans Oral History

    Chapter 15: Reflections


    Appendix A: Sample Interview Questionnaire

    Appendix B: Veteran’s Biographical Information Form

    Appendix C: Interview’s Release Agreement Form

    Appendix D: Veteran’s Release Agreement Form

    Appendix E: Photograph & Memorabilia Log

    Appendix F: Interview Summary Form

    Appendix G: Project Design Form

    Appendix H: Veterans Organizations

    Appendix I: Oral History Organizations

    Selected Bibliography



    Sharon D. Raynor currently serves as the Dean of the School of Humanities and the Winnie Wood Endowed Professor of English and Digital Media at Elizabeth City State University. She is the co-editor of Teaching Race in Perilous Times: Racial Discourse in the College Classroom (SUNY) and Executive Producer for the documentary film, In the Face of Adversity: The Service and Legacy of African American WWII Veterans.

    "With this superb book, Dr. Sharon Raynor has unlocked what she terms the "the transformative power involved in practicing veteran’s oral history for both the veteran and the interviewer." Raynor’s book is a beautiful intersection of two key areas: first, it is an expert how-to guide to conducting individual and group veteran’s histories; and, second, poignant meditations on the relationship of memory, trauma, and voice, as these have emerged in her own family’s experiences. This is a pathbreaking addition that will enable veterans to speak through their own voices, gain self-understanding, and illuminate the complex worlds through which veterans have journeyed." - Harlan Joel Gradin, PhD, Scholar Emeritus, North Carolina Humanities


    "To know Dr. Sharon Raynor is to witness her passion for veterans. We met when I had been awarded a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council. Dr. Raynor was selected as a mentor to help me continue my documentary work with Vietnam veterans. I was soliciting and curating, for the first time, their personal photographs and remembrances. As a Vietnam-era veteran and documentarian, I felt it was my responsibility to help them "show what they couldn’t say." Because Dr. Raynor was working on veterans oral and recorded histories as well, she was invaluable. Her most important piece of advice about my work was to first create trust - and a dialog - with the men and women. Those heartfelt guidelines that comprise this book are a gift to anyone who wants to create that safe place for veterans of all ages who, deep inside, want to share their experiences. Thank you, Dr. Raynor. Job well done!" - Martin Tucker; Vietnam-era veteran; Photojournalist & filmmaker; Author, Vietnam Photographs From North Carolina Veterans: The Memories They Brought Home


    "Through her tremendous personal connection to our Veterans, Dr. Sharon Raynor has written an insightful must-read book that serves as a powerful blueprint, comprehensively outlining the process and techniques of orally capturing the history, personal stories, and encounters of America’s heroes, our Veterans. I highly recommend this book and commend Dr. Raynor for her many contributions in support of our U.S. Armed Forces." - Lieutenant Colonel Rob Freeman, U.S. Army