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Oral history project for university veterans

Alan Flurry

From near death experiences to the best and worst days of their lives, the University of Georgia is keeping an archive of student veterans’ stories:

The goal is to preserve history, and to date almost 90 histories have been recorded.

The stories might include why the student joined the military, what a typical day was like, where they were on Sept. 11, 2001, if they saw active duty, how they would describe service, stories that best exemplify their service, any misperceptions about the military they want to discuss, why they left the military and what their transition back to civilian life looked like.

The UGA Student Veterans Oral History Project is the brainchild of veteran Kate Dahlstrand, a Ph.D. student in history who is particularly interested in how veterans transition back to civilian life.

The project officially got off the ground in fall 2017. Dahlstrand introduced herself to Ted Barco, director of the Student Veterans Resource Center, to help with the veteran coaching program. He asked her about her goals, and she mentioned the oral history project.

Two weeks later, she got an email from Barco that said he’d secured a room, recording equipment and the archival space. He’d also recruit veterans to send to her to record their stories.

“Lesson learned; always go to Ted first,” she said.

Dahlstrand recorded approximately 70 interviews, and the bulk of them were done in the spring semester. Tom McShea, a master’s student in history, took over this semester. He’s recorded 16 interviews with few more to schedule. The histories are housed in the Russell Library, with some audio files available online. The project is a partnership between student veterans, the UGA Student Veterans Resource Center and the Special Collections Library.


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