Oral History Project

Every veteran has a story. Every story is important.

The Virginia War Memorial is seeking veterans to share their service stories. Every story has value, no matter how long you served, where you served, or when you served. Help us preserve these stories for future generations.

We can’t tell your story without you. 


I’d like to be interviewed

Frequently Asked Questions

The VWM’s mission is to honor veterans, preserve history, educate youth, and inspire patriotism in all. Sharing your experiences with the VWM preserves your unique history. It also allows our staff to tell a more robust history of larger events by using personal examples. Teachers and students are able to hear firsthand about the role Virginians have played in our country’s history. Each and every story is valuable–we can’t share the stories that we don’t have, or that we don’t know about. Help us preserve the diverse experiences of Virginia’s military service men and women.

We want to talk with any Virginia Veteran. No matter what branch of service; no matter if you served two years or 20; no matter if you served during wartime or peacetime; no matter if you served down the road or all over the world.

That depends. As the Virginia War Memorial, our mission for the archives limits us to Virginians. A Virginian is any person born in Virginia, or any person who has chosen to make Virginia their home. Please contact us if you are unsure.

Contact our Archivist, Heidi Sheldon, at heidi.sheldon@dvs.virginia.gov or fill out this form and we will call or email to set up a convenient time.

Interviews can be in person at the VWM, located in Richmond, or can be done virtually.

At the moment, all Oral History interviews are being conducted virtually due to Covid-19.

We are more than happy to accommodate a virtual interview. Just indicate that your preference is virtual on the Google form at the top of this webpage. Your computer or smartphone will need to have a functioning camera and microphone. Interviews are conducted using the Zoom platform, and while it is not necessary for you to download anything to be interviewed, some participants find it easier to do so. Choose a quiet place with reliable internet access where you will not be disturbed. Please keep in mind that the interviews record audio and video and dress accordingly.

At this time, all interviews are being conducted virtually due to Covid-19. 

We have found that most interviews take about an hour, although some have been 30 minutes and some have been an hour and a half. You do not need to prepare ahead of time, although many Veterans find it helpful to think about meaningful events of their military service beforehand.

Once your interview is complete, you will be asked to sign a release form acknowledging that the VWM will be preserving your interview, and that it will be made available to VWM staff, educators, and researchers. You will also be asked to complete a biographical data form, telling us a little bit about yourself.

Yes! A copy of your interview can be made available to you on a USB. Once your interview is transcribed, that can also be available to you if you would like.

Interviews and their transcripts will be preserved in the archives at the VWM. Your interview will be digitally preserved. Interviews provide context, personal examples of larger historical events, and are valuable additions to the artifacts and archival items already in the collection. Your interview will be available to educators and researchers. At the moment, in-person research in the archives can be arranged by appointment only.

You never have to talk about anything that you aren’t comfortable with. Just let your interviewer know, and they will move on to another topic.

You are not required to provide any information about your race, ethnicity, or gender to participate. Please know, however, that by self-identifying, you are helping future researchers locate specific information about diversity.

We are happy to speak to you about becoming a permanent home for your items! Having photographs, letters, orders, and mementoes of your service helps us tell your story and the stories of other Virginia service members. We are able to accept physical items, such as printed photographs, as well as digital items, such as photos taken by digital camera or phone. We do not usually accept photocopies of materials. Please contact us to discuss.

Yes, but please contact us first. We are most interested in original materials. All interviews need to be accompanied by the proper paperwork, and the narrator should be a Virginia Veteran.