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Resources and Methodology

Background


This project was begun at the suggestion of Michael Uhl, Vietnam War veteran, writer and antiwar activist. Uhl, a charter member of Veterans for Peace, is an active member of the “Full Disclosure Campaign,” a national Veterans for Peace effort concerned with a renewal of the antiwar perspective in response to a series of 50th anniversary events planned by the United States Government.  As a component of the project, Uhl sought to assemble a collection of references for archival collections in the United States, especially institutions that house the papers of Vietnam War veterans.  As stewards of the Imaginative Representations of the Vietnam War Collection at La Salle University, we found this goal in line with our mission to collect works concerned with the experience of the Vietnam War, primarily creative works, but also personal and documentary records of events.

We began with a very narrow search criteria, seeking out manuscript collections of Vietnam War veteran writers. At this early stage of building this directory it was clear that this project had a number of challenges. First, as recorded in a number of excellent bibliographies, and witnessed on the shelves of our collection at La Salle, there is an overwhelming amount of Vietnam War literature. Our goal would be to narrow that body of work to a list of authors that served in Vietnam, with an understanding that the archives of more heavily published authors were more likely to turn up in research libraries. The search began from a list of poets drawn from the W.D. Ehrhart Papers at La Salle; the papers include detailed correspondence with contributors to the 1985 anthology, Carrying the Darkness American Indochina: The Poetry of the Vietnam War. Added to those names were around two dozen more, drawn from our knowledge of prominent Veteran writers; and still more were chosen from Merritt Clifton’s annotated bibliography, Those Who Were There: Eyewitness Accounts of the War in Southeast Asia, 1956-1975, & Aftermath. Additional works consulted are listed below. We have also included a short list of prominent civilian and WWII veteran writers whose archives we feel may hold important writing about the war. 

This initial challenge, to select Vietnam Veteran writers to include in our search, led us to create a directory that would be open to contribution. The list of names that were included at the time that this link was made public, include those individuals whose papers were relatively simple to locate. In addition to listing collections when we found them, we also listed names of individuals that we wished to find collections for, but did not locate. This was our second challenge; many writers will not place their collections in the care of libraries and archives within their own lifetime, and this community of creators is still relatively young. It should also be noted that some libraries and archives do not contribute their catalog records to national databases.

A final challenge worth noting is the wide array of Library of Congress subject headings that are associated with these works, which makes discovery of related resources a bit difficult. A list of suggested subject headings is included below.

Contribute 


Corrections and additions to this site are welcome, provided that they meet the criteria of the project. We will gladly add links to collections, or add minimal descriptions for offline collections. This directory was built, and is monitored by Sarah Seraphin, Special Collections Librarian for the Connelly Library, La Salle University. All submissions should be sent to seraphin.lasalle@gmail.com. 

Methodology


Finding manuscript collections and pockets of literary archives can be challenging, and no single tool will find everything. For this project we utilized OCLC's WorldCat database and ArchiveGrid. WorldCat is a union catalog of books and other materials held in libraries around the world. This free online database indexes the records of member libraries who contribute cataloging records to Online Computer Library Center (OCLC). While it is considered to be the largest bibliographic database in the world, many small institutions and libraries are not members. Prior to 1986, researchers would have relied on the print issues of the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections compiled and released by the Library of Congress. Records created since 1986 have been included in WorldCat. Records created prior to that time are well indexed in these print resources, so they are not included in this directory. We used WorldCat to search both author names and subject headings. We cited OCLC control numbers for any record that we found in this database.

Suggested search:

Use the Advanced Search option to search for a personal name, or the name of an organized body and limit your search to “Archival Materials.” 

Suggested subject headings:

Combine Library of Congress Subject Headings using Boolean operators "AND" and "OR"

American literature -- 20th century

American poetry -- 20th century

Soldiers -- United States

Underground press publications -- United States.

United States -- Armed Forces -- Political activity

Veterans -- United States

Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Protest movements

Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Veterans

In order to capture large aggregates of holdings at the state level we used ArchiveGrid. ArchiveGrid is made up of all of the records for archival material that are in WorldCat, as well as additional records from non-OCLC members. Since this was a broader search, we simply searched by subject and then investigated each collection state by state. We searched for two major subject headings and created combined list of institutions with holdings on the topic: Vietnam War, 1961-1975; and the former heading Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975. We excluded records for small pamphlet collections, individual oral histories, electronic resources, military records, administrative records at colleges and universities; and excluded institutions with less than 5 records.

Some other sources that often include information on the location of an individual’s personal papers include Wikipedia and American National Biography.

Works Consulted

Baky, John S., and Owen W. Gilman, Jr. "Vietnam War Fiction."  The Guide to United States Popular CultureEd. Browne, Ray B., and Pat Browne. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 2001. 876-878. Print.                            "Bibliography of the Vietnam War " Web. 2/23/2015 <http://www.clemson.edu/caah/history/FacultyPages/EdMoise/bibliography.html>.

Clifton, Merritt. Those Who Were There: Eyewitness Accounts of the War in Southeast Asia, 1956-1975 & Aftermath : Annotated Bibliography of Books, Articles & Topic-Related Magazines, Covering Writings both Factual & Imaginative. #15 Vol. Paradise,         CA: Dustbooks, 1984. Print. American Dust Series .

Ehrhart, W. D. Carrying the Darkness: American Indochina : The Poetry of the Vietnam War. New York, N.Y.: Avon Books, 1985. Print.

Ehrhart, W. D. Carrying the Darkness--Bios. [1984?] TS, MS. William Daniel Ehrhart Papers, La Salle University, Connelly Library, Department of Special Collections, Philadelphia, PA.

"Indochina Resource Guide." Indochina Newsletter. Indochina Aid and Friendship Project, and Asia Resource Center. Nov-Dec 1982. 1-7.   Print.

Newman, John, et al. Vietnam War Literature: An Annotated Bibliography of Imaginative Works about Americans Fighting in Vietnam. 3rd ed. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1996. Print.

Pratt, John Clark. "Poetry and the Vietnam Experience." The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam WarEd. Tucker, Spencer.Santa Barbara, Calif.: Abc-Clio, 1998. 576-578. Print. 

Pratt, John Clark. Vietnam Voices: Perspectives on the War Years, 1941-1982. New York, N.Y.: Penguin Books, 1984. Print.

"Sixties Project: Bibliography of the Sixties and the Viet Nam War " Web. 2/23/2015 <http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/sixties/HTML_docs/Resources/Bibliographies/GI_Mvmt_bib.html>.

Spinrad, Pheobe S. "Prose Narrative and the Vietnam Experience." The Encyclopedia of the Vietnam WarEd. Tucker, Spencer.Santa Barbara, Calif.: Abc-Clio, 1998. 588-589. Print. 

Wittmann, Anna M. "Literature and the Vietnam War." Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military History. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2011. Credo Reference. Web. 23 Feb 2015.