Archive for March, 2011

Calling All Vietnam Veterans!

Vietnam

I used to be a librarian.  For 15 years I assisted college and high school students and faculty with research and technology.  I was in libraries when the WWW came to be.  I don’t think much about my former career, but every once in a while the librarian in me resurfaces.  When she does, I am always pleased at the reminder that there is no such thing as wasted time.

A relative of mine wanted me to scan and restore photos that he had taken during his time in Vietnam.   These photos were not in good condition.  Apparently, a Marine footlocker in a tropical climate does not provide the optimal storage environment for photos.  Go figure.  The ones that he had sent home were in better shape, but they were still over 40 years old.  At first glance, the pictures themselves weren’t worth keeping.  Many of them were blurry or dark.  None of them were “great.”  Then the librarian in me woke up. She promptly told the photographer in me to quiet down.  These photos were of great historical significance.  History that isn’t published in textbooks – individual, personal history.   I gladly cleaned, scanned and restored them and they did indeed look better.

When I returned the photos, he told me about a Vietnam archive project that he had heard of.  After a little bit of research, I discovered the information.  The Vietnam Center and Archive is housed at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.  In addition to its collection covering well-known aspects of the Vietnam War, the Archive collects materials from all Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen.  They accept most original items including: photos, maps, slides, films, tapes and realia (sorry, it’s a library term that means any other artifact).  Once they receive the donation, they preserve and catalog the items and then scan them for their online Virtual Vietnam Archive.  The Virtual Archive is quite impressive.  It’s fully searchable and includes a variety of information on the everyday activities of “regular” people, both servicemen and civilians.  A picture is worth a thousand words should be their motto.  Donors are encouraged to provide as much information as possible which adds to its value as a research tool.  Only original documents are accepted (for a variety of library and archive reasons) and you receive a CD with the digital version of your items.  For more information, contact them at www.vietnam.ttu.edu .