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American Soldiers in American Wars: History and Memory

Resources for K-12 educators participating in the Summer 2023 Choices/NEH Institute: American Soldiers in American Wars: History and Memory.


Welcome to the Summer 2023 Choices/NEH Institute:

American Soldiers in American Wars: History and Memory 

Use the links along the left-side panel of this LibGuide to discover and explore resources related to topics and themes from this year's Institute.

"Happy veterans head for harbor of Le Havre, France, the first to be sent home and discharged under the Army's new point system." Pfc. Stedman, May 25, 1945. 111-SC-207868. National Archives Identifier: 531298

Book Spotlights: Diversity, Inclusion + Belonging

Matthew F. Delmont, Half American: The Epic Story of African Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad. Viking, an Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, 2022.

Beth L. Bailey, Integrating the US Military: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation Since World War II. Edited by Douglas Walter Bristol and Heather Marie Stur, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017.

Jimoh A. Yemisi and Françoise N. Hamlin, These Truly Are the Brave: An Anthology of African American Writings on War and Citizenship. University Press of Florida, 2015.

Jayakanth Srinivasan and Christopher Ivany, Helping Soldiers Heal: How the Us Army Created a Learning Mental Health Care System. ILR Press, an Imprint of Cornell University Press 2021.

Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez and Emilio Zamora. Beyond the Latino World War II Hero: The Social and Political Legacy of a Generation. University of Texas Press 2009.

Tom Holm, Strong Hearts Wounded Souls: Native American Veterans of the Vietnam War. University of Texas Press, 1996.

Charissa J. Threat, Nursing Civil Rights: Gender and Race in the Army Nurse Corps. University of Illinois Press 2015.

Francoise N. Hamlin, Crossroads at Clarksdale : The Black Freedom Struggle in the Mississippi Delta After World War Ii. University of North Carolina Press 2014.

Simon Wendt, Warring Over Valor: How Race and Gender Shaped American Military Heroism in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. Rutgers University Press 2019.

Klaus Phillips, War! What Is It Good for?: Black Freedom Struggles and the U.S Military from World War II to Iraq. University of North Carolina Press 2012.

Jennifer Greenburg. At War with Women: Military Humanitarianism and Imperial Feminism in an Era of Permanent War. Cornell University Press 2023.

Steve Estes, Ask & Tell: Gay and Lesbian Veterans Speak Out. University of North Carolina Press 2007.

Simeon Man, Soldiering through Empire: Race and the Making of the Decolonizing Pacific. University of California Press 2018.

Digital Archives + Online Primary Sources

Native Worlds, Native Warriors, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institute.

Native Words, Native Warriors explores the lives and experiences of American Indian Code Talkers, the service members who used their traditional tribal languages to transmit secret messages for the United States military during World War I and World War II. The content focuses on the Code Talkers’ wartime experiences as well as their pre- and postwar lives. Their highly honored military achievements are placed in a larger cultural and historical context to encourage deeper appreciation of and respect for the complex and difficult challenges they faced as American Indian people of the twentieth century.   

**EXPLORE: Teacher Materials + Collection Gallery


Music in the Vietnam War, University of Maryland

This collection explores the divergent sonic legacies of the war. Uncover new, often-unheard aspects of the war as you explore the music that told its story through data visualizations, recordings, photographs and more.


Vietnam Powwow: The Vietnam War as Remembered by Native American VeteransAmerican Native Press Archives and Sequoyah Research Center

The following is a collection of narratives written or spoken by Native American veterans about the Vietnam War. Currently, no such collection is available, a surprising absence in that Native Americans were perhaps the most widely represented group in the armed services during the time of the Vietnam War. According to the 1980 U.S. Census, 82,000 American Indians served in the military during the Vietnam era. Many, undoubtedly, found themselves in Vietnam. Yet, no major study to date has identified Native American veterans as a distinct socioeconomic group in that war. In fact, only recently has any significant attention been given to the social, economic, and cultural needs of Native Americans in general. It is time that Vietnam War era American Indian vets and their families be provided a forum for expressing their views and reflections on America's longest war. Hence, the purpose of this collection is to present in their own voices the experience of Native Americans during the Vietnam War era.


Costs of War, Watson Institute, Brown University

The Costs of War project is a team of over 60 scholars, legal experts, human rights practitioners, and physicians, which began its work in 2010. We use research and a public website to facilitate debate about the costs of the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and related violence in Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and elsewhere. There are many hidden or unacknowledged costs of the United States’ decision to respond to the 9/11 attacks with military force. We aim to foster democratic discussion of these wars by providing the fullest possible account of their human, economic and political costs, and to foster better informed public policies.


Serving: Our Voices, Veterans History Project, Library of Congress

Serving: Our Voices is a series of online presentations designed to highlight VHP collections centered on a particular theme. Since 2003, we have curated these exhibits to illuminate the broad spectrum of experiences, topics, and materials contained within the archive. Organized by topic and conflict, Serving: Our Voices offers a glimpse into the infinite research possibilities that our collections contain. Here, we serve collections that open our eyes and our hearts, that surprise and confound us, and that complicate and expand typical narratives of service.


U.S. Army Combat Artist Program, U.S. Army Center of Military History

By the end of World War II, the Army had acquired over 2,000 pieces of art. In June 1945 the Army established a Historical Properties Section to maintain and exhibit this collection, thus creating the nucleus of today's Army art Collection. The collection today is comprised of over 12,000 works of art. The Army Staff Artist Program was assigned to the U.S. Army Center of Military History, Museum Division in 1992 and where it has been established as a permanent part of the Museum Division's Collections Branch.


Homefront: California During World War II, California State Archives

World War II brought tremendous change to the Golden State. California became a ship and aircraft manufacturing hub.  Urban populations soared as workers and their families arrived to staff the new and expanded factories.  Military facilities bristled from one end of the state to the other.  Servicemen and women by the tens of thousands trained and prepared at California bases for duty overseas.  With the coming of peace in 1945, Californians looked forward to a return to normalcy.  But the state emerged from the conflict as an economic and social powerhouse, and nothing would be quite the same again.  


In the Belly of the Monster: Asian American Opposition to the Vietnam War, Densho: Preserving Japanese American stories of the past for the generations of tomorrow

The Vietnam War, which officially commenced on November 1, 1955 and lasted for nearly twenty years, cost the lives of over 58,000 Americans and more than 3 million Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Lao soldiers and civilians. The peace movement that gradually turned public opinion against the war is often remembered as an affair led by white college students, white flower children, white pastors, and white mothers, with perhaps a smattering of black and brown faces somewhere in the background. But Asian Americans and other people of color played an integral, and frequently independent, role in the anti-war movement of the 1960s and 1970s.


The Vietnam War: Our Veterans’ Stories, Brown University Library

Brown University's Vietnam Veterans Archive is a growing collection and oral history project initiated by David Taylor ’66 (Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, 1966–1971) and Professor Beth Taylor, Co-Director of Brown’s Nonfiction Writing Program (no relation). The Archive captures stories of Brown’s veterans who served in all branches of the military. It includes memories of those killed, missing in action, and held as prisoners of war. Currently, the project has helped identify more than 100 names of Brown alumni who graduated between the late 1950s and early 1970s and served, in some capacity, in Vietnam. Only 15 of these alumni are represented in the Archive thus far. Their collections include personal items and ephemera, such as photographs, clothes, documents, correspondence, and memorabilia.


West Point Center for Oral History

The mission of the West Point Center for Oral History (COH) is to record, preserve, and present the stories of Soldiers, statesmen, and others who have influenced the profession of arms, in order to inspire, educate, and develop cadets, enhance the public’s understanding of the experience of the Soldier, and create new primary source material for scholars. Unlike many oral history programs, the COH provides content that includes both audio and video components, enabling viewers not only to hear the speaker’s tone, emphasis, and cadence, but also to observe body language and facial gestures indicating introspection or amusement, adding a powerful emotional element to the user experience.


World War II Photo Collection, The National Archives

The Second World War was documented on a huge scale by thousands of photographers and artists who created millions of pictures. American military photographers representing all of the armed services covered the battlefronts around the world. Every activity of the war was depicted--training, combat, support services, and much more. On the home front, the many federal war agencies produced and collected pictures, posters, and cartoons on such subjects as war production, rationing, and civilian relocation.

The pictures described in this list are from the holdings of the Still Picture Branch (RRSS) of the National Archives and Records Administration. Most are from the records of the Army Signal Corps (Record Group 111), Department of the Navy (Record Group 80), Coast Guard (Record Group 26), Marine Corps (Record Group 127), and the Office of War Information (Record Group 208). Others were selected from the records of 12 additional agencies.



Kirby Dick, et al. The Invisible War. Ro*Co Films, 2012.

Gabe Silverman, TransMilitary. Gravitas Ventures, 2019.

Infobase and PBS, Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History. PBS, 2018.

Deborah Scranton, et al. The War Tapes. Docurama Films, Distributed by New Video Group, 2007.

Additional Resources: Print + Digital