Oral history, the center organizers agree, has proved an invaluable methodology in supplementing the existing written record. With the early stages of the Cold War now over a half century in the past, the urgency of collecting the memories of U.S. participants is self-evident.
Fortunately, the center is building on the files of the “VMI at War” project held by the Preston Library. Begun by Albert Conner ’66, the collection contains materials from VMI veterans who served during the Cold War as well as in other conflicts.
The center also sees a significant advantage in involving VMI cadets as interviewers, in archival research, in conference presentations, and in publication. Cadets use oral history techniques as part of their classroom work, for capstone and independent research projects, in prize competitions, and for summer internships. As a longer-term goal, the center hopes to engage a full-time oral historian.