Vandy Goes to War: World War II was begun in the autumn of 2006 with the intention of making a record of the various experiences of Vanderbilt University and Peabody College men and women during the World War II. Paper copies of the transcripts and other supporting materials donated by the participants are housed in Special Collections and University Archives. Altogether there are forty participants. The interviews are complemented by a number of digitized photographs from the personal collections of some of the contributors and include ninety pages from a World War II photograph journal of a Naval officer’s tour of duty in the South Pacific.
This project records the histories and reminiscences of men and women who attended or had connections with Vanderbilt and Peabody during the war years and documents their experiences in the service and on the campus during that time and afterward when some came back to school and attended on the G.I. Bill. The interviews include eye witness accounts of soldiers fighting at the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944 and early 1945, in the Far East at Okinawa, flying aerial reconnaissance in the European theatre, and medical and hospital work in North Africa and southern Italy. One soldier, a prisoner of war in a camp in Germany tells his story. Another tells of being an eighteen year old soldier liberating prisoners from Dachau Concentration camp in southern Germany. Women speak of taking leadership positions in campus life, when so many men had gone to war and of their efforts on the home front and the realities of rationing and limited necessities.
This project was begun in the fall of 2006; the final interviews were completed in the last part of 2007. Juanita Murray, Director of Special Collections and University Archives and Kathy Smith, Associate University Archivist, are the co-ordinators for the project. Molly Dohrmann conducted all of the interviews.
Audio interviews and transcripts are now available online at http://vandygoestowar.library.vanderbilt.edu/.