Tag Archives: audio

New Veterans Oral History Collection Online

[This blog post was written by Matthew Peek, Military Collection Archivist for the State Archives of North Carolina.]

1st Lt. Bennis M. Blue (third from right) pictured during parachute jump training for the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., in 1978. Blue was the first female officer of the 82nd Airborne. From the Bennis M. Blue Papers, Cold War Papers, Military Collection.

1st Lt. Bennis M. Blue (third from right) pictured during parachute jump training for the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., in 1978. Blue was the first female officer of the 82nd Airborne. From the Bennis M. Blue Papers, Cold War Papers, Military Collection.

The Military Collection at the State Archives of North Carolina is excited to announce the launch of the digital Veterans Oral History Collection through the North Carolina Digital Collections. The interviews, conducted since 2015 as audio interviews, are part of the Military Collection’s North Carolina Veterans Oral History Program, whose goal is to capture and provide access to the memories and experiences of the military servicemen and servicewomen from North Carolina, preserving them for the future scholarship. The collection is comprised of more than 1,100 oral history interviews, the majority of which are in analog formats and scheduled for future digitization. These initial 25 interviews—all conducted with state-of-the-art digital audio recorders used by the State Archives—document veterans from World War II to the Iraq War, as well as individuals serving during peacetime.

The interviews include: a U.S. Army helicopter crew chief who flew missions in Cambodia during the Vietnam War; women who served during the integration of the Women’s Army Corps into the regular Army in 1978; a U.S. Air Force Russian language specialist conducting radio communications surveillance by aircraft of Soviet Union radio communications from the northern Arctic coast of Russia during the 1970s; and a woman whose family farm was taken under eminent domain for the creation of Camp Butner in 1942. There are also interviews with Vietnam War intelligence officers, U.S. Air Force communications specialists during the era around the September 11th attacks and the early days of the Iraq War, and a U.S. Army Air Force as a tail gunner with the 14th Air Force in China during WWII.

Additional interviews will be added as they are conducted in the coming years. The audio is available for streaming only through the Internet Archive, linked through pages on the North Carolina Digital Collections. In the future, interview summaries with subjects and time dates will be uploaded, to increase access to the interviews. Digital copies of the interviews can be ordered through the State Archives’ Reference Unit under the duplication services for audiovisual materials.



The 4th of July and Other News

The State Archives will be closed July 4 for the Independence Day holiday. We will be open on July 5-6, however, so  if you were planning on visiting us on Friday or Saturday you don’t have to change your plans.

Other news that you may have missed:

Upcoming Events:

Speaker Ban Materials Now Available Through NC Digital Collections

“As the Speaker Ban Study Commission nears the completion of its work, I want you to know that our Department stands ready to be of assistance in connection with the preservation of the records of the Commission. You know better than anyone else the value of these records, including correspondence, and we are confident that historians of the future will find the issue and its solution of great interest.” – From a letter by Christopher Crittenden to David M. Britt, October 29, 1965.

In October of 1965, Christopher Crittenden, then Director of the Department of Archives and History was already well aware that the records of the Speaker Ban Study Commission would be important historical documents. The records illustrate a period in time when fears of Communism came into conflict with the desire for free speech on college campuses and the results inflamed passions and rhetoric on both sides of what we now call “the political divide.”

On June 25, 1963, the Speaker Ban Law was adopted on the last day of the legislative session after just over one hour of debate. It prohibited speeches on North Carolina public college campuses by “known” members of the Communist Party, persons “known” to advocate the overthrow of the constitutions of North Carolina or the United States, or individuals who had pleaded the Fifth Amendment in order to decline answering questions concerning communist subversion. From the moment it was passed, the Speaker Ban Law inspired heated debate on university campuses and living rooms across the state. The controversy was covered not only by local North Carolina media, but also by national and international newspapers and TV news.  The chief accrediting body of southern colleges, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, stated that the Speaker Ban interfered with the “necessary authority” of the University of North Carolina administration and thus might be harmful to the university’s academic status. At the request of William C. Friday, president of the University of North Carolina System, newly elected governor Dan Moore proposed that the General Assembly create a Speaker Ban Study Commission to examine the law.

Fifty years later, digitized materials on the Speaker Ban issue are now available through the North Carolina Digital Collections, a joint project of the State Archives and State Library of North Carolina. The new Speaker Ban Law digital collection includes newspaper clippings from the State Library and a variety of resources from the State Archives, including selected commission correspondence, materials from the records of Governors Dan Moore and Robert W. Scott, transcripts of commission meetings, a survey of opinions from members of the public both for and against the law, and News and Observer photographs taken during the controversy. Among the highlights of the new collection are the audio recordings of the meetings of the commission, recorded in 1965 and available digitally for the first time. Although the items in this online collection are only a small sample of the materials available on this subject from the State Archives of North Carolina, they provide a fascinating window into how North Carolinians viewed themselves, their institutions of higher education, and their own roles as citizens in the Cold War era politics of the 1960s.

Special thanks to Aaron Cusick, Francesca Perez, Bill Garrett, Rachel Trent, and Kim Andersen for all their work on this project.

To learn more about the history of the Speaker Ban, read the Speaker Ban Law entry in NCPedia. A blog post about the legal challenge to the Speaker Ban Law is also available on the Department of Cultural Resources blog, This Day in North Carolina History.

For some context on Cold War planning in North Carolina, visit the State Archives YouTube channel to view the NC Survival Plan Briefing (9 December 1957) – Reel 1 and Reel 2.

To locate other available materials on the Speaker Ban Law, visit the Archives online catalog, MARS. A finding aid for the Speaker Ban Law Study Commission is available at: http://archives.ncdcr.gov/findingaids/pdf/sa_speaker_ban_law_study_commission.pdf.

Oral Histories in the Military Collection

[This blog post comes from Military Collection Archivist, Kenrick N. Simpson.]

Among several ongoing programs of the North Carolina State Archives Military Collection is the acquisition and preservation of oral histories of the state’s veterans of military service. The Archives currently possesses more than nine hundred veterans’ interviews, ranging in date from pre-World War I to Iraq and encompassing all branches of service. Some of the more notable oral histories on file include the memoirs of Conley Cook of Durham, who served in Mexico with General Pershing before World War I; Ed Rector, one of the original “Flying Tigers”; Damon C. Alberty of Mayodan, a survivor of the Bataan Death March; Robert Morgan of Asheville, pilot of the Memphis Belle; Jack Lucas, the youngest recipient of the Medal of Honor during the twentieth century; Stewart Fulbright of Durham, a Tuskegee airman; C. Weldon Fields of Greensboro, who flew for the Civil Air Patrol during World War II; Mary F. Cannon of Pinehurst, a MASH nurse in Korea; and Steve Ritchie of Reidsville, the “last ace,” who downed at least five enemy planes in Vietnam.

All the veterans of World War I have since passed away, but the State Archives was able to capture the memories of thirty-eight North Carolinians who served in the Great War. Veterans of World War II, now in their eighties and nineties, are leaving us at an alarming rate, and the Military Collection is determined to identify and interview as many of them as possible to augment the more than six hundred such memoirs already in the custody of the Archives. The fiftieth anniversary of the war in Vietnam approaches, and the oral reminiscences of the veterans of that conflict, as well as those of the Korean War, demand our immediate attention. Memories of more recent service – in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan – will also be invaluable primary sources for future historians and need to be recorded and preserved while the recollections are fresh.

Since the inception of the oral history program in 1996, the Military Collection has been fortunate to benefit from the energy and generosity of time and expense of several volunteers who have been active in seeking out veterans and conducting interviews, including Ken Samuelson of Pittsboro, who has donated nearly ninety oral histories, and Rusty Edmister of Cary, who has interviewed more than seventy-five veterans. On Veterans’ Day 2012, the Military Collection is eager to identify veterans who would be willing to share their memories of service and additional volunteers to conduct such interviews. The Archives has sets of questions applicable to each conflict and branch of service, as well as policies and procedures to guide the interviewer. Anyone interested in participating in the veterans’ oral history program, either as an interviewee or an interviewer, is encouraged to contact Kenrick N. Simpson, Military Collection Archivist, at (919) 807-7314, or by e-mail at kenny.simpson@nc.dcr.gov. The State Archives Military Collection also solicits the donation of letters, diaries, memoirs, photographs, and other mementos of military service from veterans with ties to North Carolina.

Listen to an interview with Colonel Robert K. Morgan, Asheville, N.C. U. S. Air Force Reserve (November 22, 1999) or view the clip’s entry in the Internet Archive.