“Preserving the Voices of War,” a free public program about collecting and preserving war letters, will be held at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP), 1300 Locust St., Philadelphia, Saturday, March 15, starting at 2 p.m. The program is co-sponsored by the Historical Society and WHYY, the leading public broadcasting station in the Delaware Valley. This event is especially meaningful in light of the many U.S. troops currently being deployed to the Persian Gulf.
During the program, examples of war letters will be displayed and read, HSP’s Director of Archives Rachel Onuf will discuss how to preserve letters for future generations, and a collection of copied war letters donated by participants in WHYY’s recent War Letters Project will be formally transferred to the Society. A reception will follow the program.
To register for this free event, call or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2001 Andrew Carroll, editor of the best-selling book War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars, sparked public interest in letters written during war times. Starting in November 2001, WHYY’s year-long War Letters Project explored the effects of war on the shared human experience on WHYY radio, television and the Web and in a series of tri-state community events.
The WHYY project, funded by the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, was inspired by the American Experience episode “War Letters,” which brought to life personal correspondence from every military conflict in American history.
HSP/WAR LETTERS ADD 1
In an effort to help local residents understand the importance of preserving the history of the region and to encourage intergenerational dialogues about war and peace, WHYY asked its audience to send their own copies of family war correspondence. The community responded by sending more than 2,000 letters from those who in fought in battle -- from the Revolutionary War to the Afghanistan engagement -- as well as those who remained at home. The uniting factor among the letters is a common reflection on the human condition. Love, honor and family were what people wrote about — not war.
The War Letters Project was also designed to bring people together to celebrate and reflect on the importance of American history and its preservation in community settings. Representatives from the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) conducted workshops on “Preserving Your Family’s Past: Papers and Photographs.” “War Memories: Battlefield and Homefront,” held at the Historical Society of Delaware, featured the first public viewing of a trunk, more than 50 years old, containing war memorabilia of a soldier who gave his life in World War II.
The most inspiring event, “Always: A Memorial Day Tribute with Letters and Music,” was held on the Battleship New Jersey on the Camden, New Jersey waterfront. Hosted by WHYY’s Ed Cunningham, this event included a Red White and Blue World War II revue and a presentation by author Andrew Carroll, on whose book War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from America’s Wars, the American Experience “War Letters” documentary was based.
The Philadelphia chapter of the Public Relations Society of America honored the WHYY War Letters Project this past December with its highest honor, a Pepperpot Award.
WHYY, Inc., a non-profit corporation, operates TV12, a community public television station, and 91FM, a community public radio station serving southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and South Jersey.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, including The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, documents, preserves, and shares the histories and cultures of the diverse communities in the Greater Philadelphia region, across Pennsylvania, and throughout the nation. The Society brings together people and documents to explore and interpret history, enriching the lives of the individuals and communities drawn to the stories of the United States and its people.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
1300 Locust St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
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