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The StoryQuest Project: World War II

As the 75th anniversary of World War II unfolds, the veterans’ ranks are dwindling, their heroism honored, their stories cherished. But largely overshadowed have been the millions of other Americans who helped defeat fascism — and whose stories are perhaps in greater danger of being lost. By one measure, there have been more books published just on the battle of Iwo Jima than on the entire American home front experience of World War II.

The StoryQuest Project, an innovative oral history program at Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, is capturing the memories of those civilians: men, women, and children whose lives were changed by the greatest global conflict in human history. Our team is recording hundreds of interviews with “the greatest generation” in which veterans’ tales of combat at the front lines intertwine with far less familiar, but equally vivid, recollections of the home front: A prep school student hearing the news that her older brother’s plane has been shot down. An electrician working to transform a Navy gunboat into Harry Truman’s presidential yacht. A farm girl joining her mother every afternoon in a spotting tower to scan the skies for enemy planes. A man buying his first home with his war bond savings.

In addition to audio recordings, we are collecting digital images of wartime letters, photographs, and other artifacts that help tell our interviewees’ stories.

An initial sampling of stories, audio clips, and documents — selected from among our more than 150 interviewees — is available on this website. It will continue to grow as our team continues interviewing, digitizing, indexing, and transcribing.

This program began as the Dr. Davy H. McCall World War II History Project, named in honor of a distinguished veteran, public servant, historian, and Washington College professor.

To participate in the StoryQuest Project: World War II, please email story_quest@washcoll.edu.

The C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience

Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience is dedicated to fostering innovative approaches to the American past and present. Through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach, and a special focus on written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between the academic world and the public at large. Founded in 1782, Washington College in Chestertown, Md., was the first institution of higher learning established in the new republic. George Washington was a principal donor to the college and a member of its original board of trustees. He received an honorary degree from the college in June 1789. Among our many partners at Washington College, StoryQuest would particularly like to recognize the Clifton M. Miller Library, whose division of special collections will be the permanent repository of the Dr. Davy H. McCall World War II History Collection.

StoryQuest: World War II is made possible with major support from:

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