Veterans Day November 11

Veterans Day as we know it was originally designated by President Wilson as Armistice Day in 1919 to commemorate the signing of the 1918 agreement that led to the cease-fire between opposing forces in World War I. At that time, World War I was considered the war to end all wars. This, however, was not the case; World War II broke out in 1939 and the US officially entered the war in 1941. World War II required the largest mobilization of troops in modern history. Recognizing the efforts and sacrifices, the US Congress passed legislation in 1954 to recognize November 11th officially as Veterans Day to honor Americans that served in all wars, not just limited to World War I. You can read more about the administrative history of Veterans Day at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

You can certainly find hundreds of resources in our catalog related to our country’s military history and the sacrifices made by those who served. You can also find rich collections of the personal stories of our nation’s veterans in a variety of online digital repositories. Below you’ll find descriptions of and links to a number of those sites. 

Veterans History Project

This extensive collection from the Library of Congress’s American Folklife Center spans the period from World War I to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The collection contains a variety of materials including digitized photographs, video clips, diaries, letters, memoirs and oral history interviews. Visitors to this site can search for material by war, branch of service, veteran’s name, veterans’ gender, or type of material.

Experiencing War: Serving in Silence – Stories from the Veterans’ History Project 

This collection is a subset of the materials in the Veterans History Project and is focused specifically on the stories of LGBTQ+ service members, particularly those who served prior to the repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Like the Veterans History Project, this collection contains first person accounts of veterans from World War I up to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture 

This Smithsonian museum features close to 500 items related to the experiences of blacks in the military. The items in the museum’s digital collection span the period from the 1700s to the present and feature digitized photographs, images of medals and uniforms, maps, and oral history interviews. You can also check out the museum’s exhibition devoted to World War II: Fighting for the Right to Fight.

Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nations Armed Forces 

This exhibition from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Information on the exhibition’s website notes that Native American’s have served in our country’s military since Colonial times and, in recent decades, have served at a higher rate in proportion to their population than any other ethnic group.

Women’s Veteran’s History Project at UNC Greensboro 

This collection, from the University of North Carolina Greensboro, contains digitized diaries, letters, posters, pamphlets, oral history interviews and more. The material in the collection covers the period from World War I through the present. While the items in the collection primarily relate to military veterans, some focus on the contributions of workers in related service organizations such as the Red Cross, special services, and civilians in service.