NDSU’s Christina Weber wants to hear the war stories of area veterans, and in particular, she wants to collect oral histories about how those experiences have affected veterans’ family members.
Weber is leading “Project Unpack,” an NDSU effort funded within a $201,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities. Weber and three other NDSU researchers are collecting oral histories from veterans and their families to establish an archive that the public and researchers can use.
“We are conducting these interviews through the rest of the calendar year, but we are doing concentrated effort in October,” explained Weber, who is associate dean of faculty development in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and an associate professor of sociology. “The interviews last approximately an hour, and can take place in a private room at the NDSU Library, the person’s home or an outside venue that is convenient for them.”
Project Unpack aims to create a safe platform for recording audio histories of veterans and those closest to them regarding the effects of American wars.
“Unpacking our internal baggage gives us time to reflect and consider the circumstances of our lives more fully, and it gives us the opportunity to listen more thoughtfully and to develop compassion for those around us.” Weber said. “We want to gain insight into the needs of veterans in North Dakota, the Midwest and the United States.
When the oral history is completed, the audio material will be stored permanently at the NDSU Archive and shared on the project website and the Digital Horizons online repository. The repository will provide public access to the archived materials for future generations to learn more about the impacts of war.
The oral histories are an element of a total project is called “Project Unpack: Telling Stories, Creating Community: Understanding the Legacies of War at Home.” It was one of only 21 projects funded throughout the nation. The other parts of the project include:
• A program where the community is invited to read and discuss a book related to the legacies of war.
• Writing and ceramics workshops for veterans and their families.
• A series of public forums and programs that allow veterans and families to share their stories and creative work with the community.
Other NDSU faculty members involved in the project are Alison Graham-Bertolini, assistant professor of English and women and gender studies; Angela Smith, assistant professor of public history; and Michael Strand, professor and head of visual arts.
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