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World War I Veterans: Resources in the Veterans History Project

With over 450 personal narratives documenting the personal experiences of veterans of World War I available for research, VHP collections are a rich resource for understanding the diverse experiences of service members during this war.


Longshaw Kraus Porritt sitting at a desk, writing near the Italian front in Italy
Porritt sitting at a desk, writing near the Italian front in Italy. Longshaw Kraus Porritt Collection (AFC/2001/001/86295). Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

Comprised of oral histories, photographs, correspondence, journals, military documents, memoirs, and more, Veterans History Project (VHP) collections document the personal stories of individual veterans. With more than 450 collections from World War I veterans in the VHP archives, there is a broad diversity of experiences and personal backgrounds represented. This guide provides tips and strategies for effective searching of VHP's collections website, along with an introduction to other VHP resources available on our website.

“The one big thing is to get there and do our little part whatever it may be.”

Ewing Harry Miller, March 2, 1918

American society was highly divided on the question of the country's involvement in what was then known as the "Great War." Some believed it was important for the United States to assist its allies and defend democracy around the world, while others saw the war as a European affair that the United States should not get entangled in.

As with other conflicts and time periods, VHP collections from the World War I era offer a broad spectrum of perspectives. Some veterans, like Longshaw Kraus Porritt, went to Europe as medical volunteers before the United States even entered the war. Others were drafted into service. Many soldiers and Marines—including Allen Sumner, Edgar Andrews, Theodore Kohls, and Arthur Keller—witnessed the horror of trench warfare on the Western Front, while pilots like Gustav Kissel and Harold Riley experienced the new phenomenon of aerial combat.

Women such as Nettie Trax and Clara Hoke asserted a more formal role for themselves in the military during World War I, particularly in the nascent Army Nurse Corps and Navy Nurse Corps, and also as female yeomen in the Navy and telephone operators in the Army Signal Corps. The armed forces were still marred by official policies of racial discrimination and segregation, and the collections of African American veterans like Jessie Lockett and Arthur Singleton provide insight into the perspectives and experiences of veterans whose service was not always welcomed nor honored.