The Veteran’s Legacy

Press release  October 19, 2014

The Veteran’s Legacy: A Documentation and Preservation Workshop

We all know the old question, “What did you do in the war, Daddy?” In 2014 we are commemorating events from several wars in our nation’s past—some, like the War of 1812, the Civil War, and World War I, whose last veterans passed long ago, some, such as World War II   and the Korean War, in which we are in a race against time to record the memories of those who fought and those who kept them in the field. In honor of Veteran’s Day, the New Bedford Historical Society is reaching out to the community to make sure the stories of our veterans are saved. On November 8, museum consultant Madelyn Shaw will lead “The Veteran’s Legacy: A Documentation and Preservation Workshop” at 2:30 to 4:30 PM.  Shaw will discuss how to document and preserve a veteran’s story or acknowledge their service. The workshop will be held at the Corson Building at the New Bedford Whaling National Park at 33 William Street.

World War II veterans are now entering their 80’s and many have unforgettable accounts that contribute to family as well as national history. Recently the National Archives and Library of Congress teamed up on The Veterans History Project, which gives every veteran the tools and opportunity to contribute their own record of military service. Using the website as a guide, this workshop will walk participants through the kinds of documents, photographs, letters and diaries, memorabilia, and other artifacts that constitute the archival record of a veteran’s service and how it can be collected or recovered. We will discuss how best to preserve papers and artifacts, and look at the questions a museum or library would ask before accepting a collection. References will be available for those interested in sharing any findings with their local military museum and other cultural and historical centers.

“I started learning about military history because of a curiosity about my father,” Bob French, board member of the Society explains. “Documents like discharge papers and old letters connect us to our past and gives us a glimpse of our own family history. There is a lot more in that paperwork than meets the eye.” French will also lead an oral history project that will interview veterans of color and their families that can be kept as family archives.

Most of us know a veteran – a grandfather, a mother, a son, or a niece. Learn how to preserve their stories, and acknowledge their service. For more information on the program or to reserve a seat, please contact the New Bedford Historical Society at or call (508) 979-8828.