The Legacy Initiative

Veterans History Project Park Tudor Legacy Initiative History Project American Folklife Center


"Hands on History Through Research and Writing"

A November 1999 New York Times article, "In wartime letters home, the eloquence of common men," was the inspiration for a special history project at Park Tudor School. The Times article was about Washington, D.C. author Andrew Carroll and his efforts to collect and publish original letters written from the front and from home, "letters that had been written in wartime and had survived in attics and at the bottom of drawers, the buried testimony of men and women who had known war too well."

We saw an opportunity to actively engage our students in the study of humanities. As a result, a collaborative initiative was conceived among members of the History and English departments in the Upper School, whereby students have an opportunity for hands-on history, through research and writing. Students work from copies of original primary sources. They have the opportunity to develop history research skills, learn how to select and organize diverse materials for the publication of an anthology, and use their English skills to document and edit primary materials. Four hardcover anthologies have been published to date.

Thus, this is an appeal for copies (not originals!) of family-held, unpublished documents from any of the wars in which Americans fought - from the Revolution to Afghanistan. This may include letters, diaries, photos, maps or drawings. Documents in a foreign language are also encouraged.

Since 2002, the Legacy Initiative has partnered with the Veteran History Project and Senator Richard Lugar's office in Indiana. The Veteran History Project is a part of the Library of Congress' effort to document veterans' oral histories. Our students will be available to assist in completing oral histories on site at Park Tudor and at local libraries. Completed oral histories will be submitted to the Library of Congress. The Legacy Initiative will also select the best oral histories for possible inclusion in our next published anthology. We also encourage veterans to share with our project their photographs and other wartime documents.

Our anthology will help preserve the legacy and heritage of these wartime writers, and we would also like to help those donating documents with preservation guidance.

Kathryn W. Lerch
Legacy Initiative Director