Michigan State University

Digitizing and Preserving Women's Stories from Service Overseas

Katie Diamond

The Michigan State University G. R. Vincent Voice Library digitizes historically significant oral histories from women who served overseas during times of conflict.

Spanning the First and Second World Wars, the MSU Library has committed the attention of our expert technicians and curatorial staff in preserving the collection of members of the Women’s Overseas Service League (WOSL). With support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the principal goal of preserving the WOSL oral history project is to make shareable the personal accounts and hundreds-of-hours-of-sound-recordings from women who have volunteered their recollections, reflections, and ruminations on the dangers and hardships of serving overseas. The collections come from Michigan State University and the University of Texas-San Antonio Libraries.

This project adds to the relative dearth of oral histories related to women’s service during times of conflict. The personal accounts convey lessons of history and afford later generations the opportunity to understand the sacrifices of service through the human voice where the nuance of modesty and courage revealed at a visceral level. We are pleased to make these materials available to a worldwide audience by partnering with the Women’s Overseas Service League whose purpose is sublime: “To keep alive and develop the spirit that prompted overseas service; to inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, state and nation; and to foster and promote friendship and understanding between the United States and all the other nations of the world.”

We are delighted to announce the availability of the initial set of digitized recordings. The collection grows regularly and may be found and listened to from the MSU Library catalog. A project website is forthcoming in Spring 2016.

Pictured above: Engineering board used to digitize WOSL cassettes and other recordings in our G. R. Vincent Voice Library.

Blog post by Katie Diamond, Holly Flynn, and Shawn Nicholson.

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