BOWLING GREEN – Thanks to the Ohio History Fund Grant from the Ohio History Connection Bowling Green State University’s Center for Archival Collections (CAC) was able to digitize, preserve and publicly disseminate a collection of approximately 100 oral histories of Ohioans’ experiences of World War II.

The result of the $6,700 grant project improves the accessibility of a historically significant oral history collection and creates a greater awareness of the CAC as a steward of the region’s cultural heritage.

Students from the History of World War II course taught by BGSU faculty members Walter E. Grunden and Kathren Brown created the audio and video oral histories between the years 2001 and 2004. Many of those interviewed were relatives of students living within the BGSU region. These personal accounts primarily represent longtime Ohio residents’ roles in the war. The oral histories address a number of topics, including:

•Service in all branches of the armed forces;

•Combat experience in the European and Pacific theaters of the war;

•Noncombatant life on the U.S. home front and abroad;

•A variety of social and economic backgrounds.

As the recordings were created by students using the technology available to them, the originals are stored on a variety of media, including audiocassette, microcassette, VHS tapes and eight-millimeter video tapes. These formats present a significant preservation and access challenge as they move closer toward obsolescence due to aging playback equipment and the deterioration of the media itself, putting these unique and important stories of Ohioans’ experiences of the war at risk of permanent loss. Grant funds allowed for digitization of the collection, which will enable ongoing preservation of these unique and valuable resources as well as the online delivery to audiences anywhere. All audio recordings have associated transcripts; video recordings have been closed-captioned.

“Experiencing War: A Project to Preserve and Make Accessible Oral Histories of World War II” can be accessed at https://digitalgallery.bgsu.edu/exhibits/show/wwii_oral_histories.

The Ohio History Fund is supported exclusively by voluntary donations of state income tax refunds, Ohio History “mastodon” license plate sales and designated gifts to the Ohio History Connection.

I started at the Northwest Signal in 1994 and became editor in 2004. I graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1994.

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