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Project director: gitre
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PW-264049-19

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, VA 24061-2000)
Edward Joseph Khair Gitre (Project Director: July 2018 to present)

The American Soldier in World War II

The creation of an online collection of over 65,000 handwritten survey responses containing the personal comments of American soldiers in WWII. The narrative responses would be transcribed and reunited with quantitative data from the respondents; contextual information would be added to facilitate access by multiple user groups.

Our project will make available to scholars and to the public a remarkable collection of written reflections on war and military service by American soldiers who fought in the Second World War. During the conflict, an in-house Army Research Branch surveyed approximately half a million service personnel. Survey respondents were asked about myriad topics, from the effectiveness of training to the preference of fabrics used in uniforms. Service personnel were also provided space to write frankly about any of their concerns. Until now, only by visiting Washington, D.C., could one read these 65,000-plus anonymous "free-text" commentaries. Taken together, these wartime records provide us the most comprehensive portrait of the largest citizen-soldier Army in US history. Our interdisciplinary team will reunite these one-of-a-kind free-text commentaries to their source surveys and make the entire reconstituted collection available to the public through an open-access website.

[Media coverage]

Project fields:
Military History; U.S. History

Program:
Humanities Collections and Reference Resources

Division:
Preservation and Access

Total amounts:
$349,864 (approved)
$349,864 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2019 – 4/30/2021


PW-253766-17

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, VA 24061-2000)
Edward Joseph Khair Gitre (Project Director: July 2016 to present)

The American Soldier Collaborative Digital Archive

A planning project to develop a digital archive of 60,000 survey forms containing personal observations and opinions of soldiers, produced during World War II, gathered by the U.S. War Department and used for the four-volume publication The American Soldier (1949-50).

Our project will make available to scholars and to the public a remarkable collection of written reflections on war and the armed forces by American soldiers who fought in the Second World War. During the conflict, the War Department's Research Branch surveyed approximately half a million service personnel. Respondents were asked about myriad topics, from the effectiveness of training to the preference of fabrics used in uniforms. Service personnel were also provided space to write frankly about their other concerns. Until now, only by visiting the National Archives could one read the 60,000-plus anonymous "free text" captured by the Branch. Virginia Tech and Cornell University will build an online digital archive that reunites the branches’ social scientific data and these free-text responses. We will also provide a tool that will allow students, scholars, and the public to transcribe and analyze digitized free-text responses, so as to render the text searchable and thus accessible.

[White paper][Grant products][Media coverage]

Project fields:
Military History; U.S. History

Program:
Humanities Collections and Reference Resources

Division:
Preservation and Access

Total amounts:
$50,000 (approved)
$49,846 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2017 – 4/30/2018