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Veterans History Project (VHP): Exploring the Collections

Viewing Collections

Notice: All on-site public programs are cancelled and reading rooms are closed until further notice. Online resources and reference services, such as Ask a Librarian, will continue to be available during this time. Limited researcher access to restricted digital resources is available on-site by appointment only. Learn more.

On the day of your appointment, go to the Library of Congress American Folklife Center (AFC) Reading Room.

About the American Folklife Center

The American Folklife Center was created in 1976 by the U.S. Congress to "preserve and present American folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibitions, publications, and training. Designated by the U.S. Congress as the national center for folklife documentation and research, the American Folklife Center continues to collect and document living traditional culture, while preserving for the future its unparalleled collections in the state-of-the-art preservation facilities of the Library of Congress.

Viewing Collections

You may arrive at any time between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm on the day of your appointment, but please be sure to allow enough time to review the material you have requested before the AFC Reading Room closes.

You will need a Reader Identification Card in order to access the reading room. Collections are restricted to use in the AFC Reading Room during normal operating hours (M-F 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.). Materials may be used in-house for as long as you need them; however, they must remain in the Reading Room at all times.

Please note that we are unable to serve collections on-demand. Many collections are stored off-site, and advance notice is required to retrieve and prepare the material. To view collections in-person, you must make an appointment with research staff at least 10 days in advance of your visit. Please visit the For Researchers section of our website to make an appointment with research staff.

Handling Materials Appropriately

Materials from the Veterans History Project (VHP) are an important and irreplaceable part of the nation's historical record. Special policies consistent with current archival practice and preservation guidelines are required to ensure that these materials will be available for future researchers.

Please use pencil for taking notes when working with manuscript materials and keep all papers in the order in which they are served in their folders. Ink, adhesive notes, paper clips, rubber bands and other such devices may not be used in the Reading Room.

Many items in our collections are fragile or brittle, and must be handled carefully to prevent damage. Please handle all items with care, ensuring that material is not folded, bent, torn, or otherwise damaged or altered. Items housed in clear sleeves may not be removed from the sleeves.

Some items may require special handling. Reading Room staff will advise you of any specific handling guidelines upon your arrival.

Materials need to be protected from potentially damaging elements, including direct sunlight, extreme hot or cold temperatures, very humid environments or moist surfaces. Make sure your hands are clean and dry when handling items from the archives. Items must be returned in their original condition and in their accompanying folders or containers.

Food and beverages are not permitted in the Reading Room at any time. Several food service areas are available in the Library of Congress buildings on Capitol Hill. For more information, please see

Viewing Audiovisual Materials

Many VHP collections include audiovisual (A/V) material, such as audio and video recordings of oral history interviews. You may review reference copies of A/V material held by VHP in the Reading Room.

If the collection you are interested in examining includes non-digitized A/V material, please contact VHP staff at least 10 days in advance of your visit. All recordings are copied by VHP staff prior to being served to you in the Reading Room in order to protect the original recordings. These reference copies, or copies of the original recordings produced for researcher reference, are the property of VHP. After use in the Reading Room, reference copies become a permanent part of the collection.

Audio and video recordings may only be viewed on Library equipment. They may not be played on or copied to your personal device.