Preservation and Access: Humanities Collections and Reference Resources

Period of Performance

5/1/2018 - 7/31/2020

Funding Totals

$135,000.00 (approved)
$135,000.00 (awarded)

Listening to War: Digitizing Wisconsin's Wartime Oral Histories

FAIN: PW-259003-18

Wisconsin Library Services (Madison, WI 53715-1255)
Emily Pfotenhauer (Project Director: July 2017 to December 2021)

The digitization of 1,100 oral history interviews, comprising 1,299 hours of sound recordings and 330 hours of moving images, pertaining to Wisconsin's experience in wartime during the 20th century.

Wisconsin Library Services (WiLS) requests a grant of $147,534 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support a two-year initiative to digitize, preserve and provide access to more than 1,100 oral history interviews documenting the lives of Wisconsin veterans and civilians during wartime. The proposed project builds on a yearlong planning project conducted by the Recollection Wisconsin collaborative statewide digital program, supported by an NEH Foundations grant. The Foundations project identified a range of hidden, at-risk analog and born-digital audio and video formats held by 22 small and mid-sized libraries, archives, historical societies and museums across Wisconsin. As program manager for the Recollection Wisconsin consortium, WiLS will work with partners including UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum to extend the reach, visibility and useful life of these audiovisual recordings.

Media Coverage

More than 1,000 recorded interviews with Wisconsin veterans to be digitized, available online (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Shelley K. Mesch
Publication: Wisconsin State Journal
Date: 4/9/2018
Abstract: Announcement of grant award and highlights of planning project work.

Superior, Douglas County veterans featured in online 'Listening to War' collection (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Maria Lockwood
Publication: Superior Telegram
Date: 1/12/2021
Abstract: Local news feature on Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center's contributions to Listening to War project.

Listening To Wisconsin's Wartime Stories (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Emily Pfotenhauer, Briana Fiandt
Publication: Central Time, Wisconsin Public Radio
Date: 6/2/2021
Abstract: On the heels of Memorial Day, we hear stories of Wisconsinites touched by war from two people behind the project "Listening to War: Wisconsin's Wartime Oral Histories." Host: Kealey Bultena

Associated Products

NEH-funded “Listening to War” project: reflections and update (Blog Post)
Title: NEH-funded “Listening to War” project: reflections and update
Author: Shawn Vesely
Abstract: Audiovisual Project Archivist Shawn Vesely reflects on the personal significance of this project to him as a veteran and provides a progress update.
Date: 2019-01-21
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Blog post
Blog Title: Recollection Wisconsin
Website: Recollection Wisconsin

Listening to War: Wisconsin's Wartime Oral Histories (Database/Archive/Digital Edition)
Title: Listening to War: Wisconsin's Wartime Oral Histories
Author: Emily Pfotenhauer
Author: Shawn Vesely
Abstract: The Listening to War digital collection brings together first-person accounts of veterans and civilians in Wisconsin during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War. These stories of everyday life during wartime come from men and women who served on the battlefront; nurses, journalists, shipbuilders, and others who contributed to wartime work at home and abroad; Holocaust survivors who immigrated from Europe to Wisconsin after World War II; and Hmong refugees from Laos who were resettled in the state following the Vietnam War. Listening to War: Wisconsin's Wartime Oral Histories is coordinated by Recollection Wisconsin and supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Partners in this project include the Wisconsin Historical Society, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, and the 22 libraries, archives, museums, and veterans’ organizations that contributed materials to this collection.
Year: 2020
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: CONTENTdm collection for discovery of project content.
Access Model: open access

The Toolkit: Recording Oral Histories (Web Resource)
Title: The Toolkit: Recording Oral Histories
Author: Shawn Vesely
Abstract: The Recollection Wisconsin Toolkit brings together resources for creating, managing, and sharing digital collections to address common concerns, like this one: How do I record audio for my oral history project?
Year: 2020
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Guidelines created for Recollection Wisconsin website.