By Will Irwin, PCV 1966-67
Archive Collection Sites: Many RPCVs in their 60’s and 70’s are thinking about what to do with the materials they have about their Peace Corps experience. Donating them to archives is one possibility. Following are three possibilities:
The first is called the Collection on Women Peace Corps Volunteers in Afghanistan Smallpox Eradication Program in the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. There's an article about in the Spring 2012 newsletter of the library. See http://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/news/schlesinger.
The second is the Arthur Paul Afghanistan Collection in the Criss Library, 6001 Dodge Street, at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. The collection was started in 1974 with the donation of the private collection of books and periodicals by Arthur Paul, an economic advisor to the Royal Government of Afghanistan from 1960-1965. It now has more than 20,000 titles. “The collection is especially strong in 19th and early 20th century English language books by British authors conveying their personal experiences and the British Indian government’s policy concerning Afghanistan. . . . [and] includes a wide variety of books, journals, maps, photographs, and other documents.” The materials are being digitized for public access and research. Access to the materials is on-site, where photocopying is permitted (except for fragile documents, which may be photographed, or copyrighted materials). Although staff resources are limited, photocopies can be provided to people who cannot come to the library. For further information, see http://library.unomaha.edu/research/apac.php.
The librarian responsible for this collection is Professor Shaista Wahab, phone number 402-554-2404, email = firstname.lastname@example.org. She would be glad to have whatever materials returned Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Afghanistan would like to donate – PCV newsletters, letters, photographs, Peace Corps/Afghanistan memos and handbooks. They prefer original copies, but can accept photocopies. A donor may put conditions on the availability of their materials, e.g., not before a certain date. The library provides a donor form for the formal arrangements.
A third is the American University Peace Corps Community Archives in the library on the campus (4400 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.) in Washington, D.C. These archives were initiated in early 2013, after the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps, as a result of a concern voiced by some RPCVs that the story of the “experience” of the Peace Corps, e.g., friends, living situation, the process of acculturation (as distinct from projects) was not being told. They approached American University to see about filling this gap by collecting primary materials from training through a final report. So far 17 men and 10 women have donated materials, mostly from the 1960s. Colombia (11) and Nigeria (5) are the principal countries where they served. One served in Afghanistan (Ron Dizon, ’71-’73 in Kabul).
What Archives Collect: The primary materials sought are from the PCV’s term of service in the country or countries where he or she served (not other countries):
1) Training materials, e.g., schedules, how much and what kind(s) of language training (what about teaching dialects for various African countries), who were the trainers.
2) Letters home, the more honest the better, in order to give an authentic picture of the experience, e.g., challenges of work. Understandably, some people – women, in particular, so their parents wouldn’t worry – might have portrayed it as rosier than it was.
3) Diaries and journals. Perhaps as a corrective to rosy letters.
4) Original pictures (not scans; slides are okay, but not rolls of negatives). These give a sense of the real community.
5) Films, e.g., of trips
8) Sound recordings
9) Newsletters by Peace Corps Volunteers
10) Oral histories and memoirs by RPCVs and host country nationals. (Published materials are given to the university library’s circulating collection.)
11) Organizational records of National Peace Corps Association member groups, e.g., Friends of Afghanistan.
They cannot accept 3-dimensional items (e.g., artwork – perhaps the JFK Library Museum would), and they do not want publications, videos or other media items about the Peace Corps in general (these are, presumably, in the National Archives). They also do not accept photocopies of primary materials. At this point, they are not acquiring things from Peace Corps staff, or materials related to RPCV efforts to fulfill the Third Goal.
The Donation Process: The American University Archivist, Susan McElrath (202-885-3256, email@example.com) will direct a person making an initial inquiry to website information about the archive (http://bender.library.american.edu/pcca/donate, scroll down the library blogs to Peace Corps Community Archives). If the person is interested in donating, she will explain the alternative logistics of submitting the materials (e.g., shipping or physical delivery). Before the materials are submitted a donor fills out and signs a Deed of Gift form that describes the materials and states the donor’s wishes, e.g., does he or she wish to retain copyright until death (if so, a person wishing to quote material must get permission from the donor), or restrict access until a certain time? A university official also signs the document. The website has a link to an explanation of the purposes of the deed of gift.
Access to Materials: Materials are stored in standard archival packaging, e.g., with a pH buffer, at controlled temperatures, and handling is limited to protect the life of the documents. Materials may be viewed on-site at American University archives reading room or on-line. A donor may wish to limit access to on-site viewing for some kinds of documents, e.g., letters or diaries; on-line access is not controlled.
Publicity of Materials: Blogs about new collections of materials are announced, by country, on the library blog. There are also occasional blogs on different cross-country topics or themes, e.g., diaries, kinds of projects. There are also occasionally exhibits in the library; on-line exhibits are a future possibility.
Editor’s Note: Recommendation of the Friends of Afghanistan Board: The Board feels that it would be advantageous to have most of our collection at the American University Library, although the decision is entirely up to our individual members. We urge you to begin making decisions and leaving instructions for the disposition of these items that are important for the legacy of your work in Afghanistan.
Jill Vickers, RPCV Afghanistan, and
SYNOPSIS: "We walked in on weddings, on funerals - everything would stop - and we'd vaccinate." Group 15 volunteers were members of Afghan male smallpox vaccinator teams in 1969 and 1970. The women's stories with their photographs bring that time of relative peace and prosperity to life. Travel with them to remote areas meeting incredible hospitality as well as open resistance to the vaccination program. The movie takes you behind the high compound walls to a place where people of completely different backgrounds could recognize one another in spite of their differences. In a world in which messages of hate travel faster than ever before, this is a message of understanding.
The Afghan Children’s Songbook Project
Louise Pascale, Afghanistan PCV (66-68)
Louise is reintroducing music to Afghanistan through The Afghan Children’s Songbook Project. The songs, collected initially by Pascale while she was in the Peace Corps, were almost completely eradicated due to the war and oppressive rule of the Taliban. With the help of an Afghan-Canadian composer and performer and an Afghan graphic designer and printer, she has recreated her old songbook of 16 songs, which now has an accompanying CD and cassette tape of Afghan children singing all the songs. The books are distributed to children in elementary schools, orphanages and women’s centers with the help of a number of organizations, including Save the Children, Youth Educational Services, HOPE International, Afghan Women’s Organization and the American Friendship Foundation.
From a performance at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne on April 9, 2011
Terry Dougherty, a board member of SOLA and the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace cosponsored an event featuring the work of several writers in theAfghan Women's Writing Project at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. IPFW Women's Studies students along with Sana and Meena presented a dramatic recreation of a gathering of students at SOLA-School of Leadership, Afghanistan. Music from Dr. Louise Pascale's Afghan Children's Songbook was also used in the presentation.