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Public History @ UCF: UCF Community Veterans History Project

About
The UCF Community Veterans History Project collects, preserves, and makes oral history interviews of Central Florida veterans accessible. The National Veterans History Project began in 2000, but began at UCF in the Fall of 2010. Dr. Rosalind Beiler secured a Library of Congress Grant to begin collecting Oral Histories of veterans in Central Florida, which provided the funding for the department to hire the project’s Principle Investigator Dr. Barbara Gannon, who has experience in Military and Oral History as well as Memory Studies.

The project has seen steady growth since Dr. Gannon was hired, focusing on growth and outreach in addition to conducting interviews. In 2012, the UCF History Department hired Tiffany Rivera to help with project outreach and the project has since seen rapid growth. The project has adopted several initiatives over the past few years that influenced this expansion. The CVHP partnered with LIFE (Learning Institute for Elders) at UCF and conducted training workshops to teach veterans to conduct their own interviews on the program’s behalf. In addition to peer-to-peer interviews, the CVHP began inviting Veterans to campus to be interviewed in a professional setting with an emphasis on the UCF community. Through 2016, the UCF VHP has collected over 500 oral histories from veterans of six wars, and has formed partnerships to hire staff and grow the project.

The UCF CVHP has also become a leader in enhancing the University’s relationship with its veteran population. The UCF CVHP has grown its annual Veteran’s History Day into a celebratory month titled, Veterans Month: A Month of Honor and Remembrance. Veterans Month is a series of planned programs that honor and serve the Central Florida’s Veterans. The 2015 events included a screening of the film, Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History, hosted Student-Veteran History Day, participated in the Orlando Veterans Day Parade. The CVHP also helped put on the Veterans Commemoration Ceremony at the Veterans Commemorative Site on Memory Mall. This ceremony looks to publically honor the service of Central Florida’s veterans while also shedding a light on UCF’s student veteran population.

On top of all the work the UCF CVHP does with Veterans at the University, it has also helped coordinate several Oral History Workshops hosted at the University. Dr. Gannon leads these seminars to teach community members how to properly conduct oral history interviews. These seminars help teach people how to prepare an interview, guide an interview, make interviewees feel comfortable, and deal with difficult situations. These seminars help UCF and the CVHP engage with the Central Florida Community outside the realm of Veterans histories.

Since its founding the UCF CVHP continues to increase student involvement and community support. It has run several programs focused on professionalizing students and the public, while also garnering support and recognition for Central Florida’s Veterans. Much of this growth would not be possible without the numerous funding opportunities and partnerships the project has made. The Anne J. Caudal Foundation has been a primary source of support for the project, providing funds for OPS employment positions, equipment, and other necessary aspects of the project. The CVHP has also received funding from Lockheed Martin and has generated over ten-thousand dollars from donations. The UCF CVHP is one of the History department’s leaders in community engagement and has spearheaded the growth in Veterans recognition, and this would not be possible without the support from the faculty, students and the funding agents above.

Principle Investigators
Dr. Barbara Gannon
Ms. Tiffany Rivera

Faculty Involvement
Dr. Beiler
Dr. Collins
Dr. Gannon
Dr. Laurie Uttich
Dr. Lyons
Dr. Ozoglu
Dr. Voss

Student Involvement
Tyler Campbell
Dr. Gannon’s Students
Dr. Murphree’s Students

Working with the CVHP at UCF has provided many opportunities for students that focus heavily on professional development. Funding opportunities have granted the project team funds to hire students to work on transcribing interviews, creating metadata, editing videos, and other work. However, most students that work with the project get engaged through faculty courses. In the past, undergraduate students from Dr. Gannon’s Oral History classes and History and Historians classes have conducted interviews, as well as the graduate students in Her American Military History seminar. Students take vital networking and interviewing skills away from these interviews, as well as helping a Veteran share their experience. Community outreach and engagement is another skill that the UCF CVHP helps to foster. Through Veterans Month and other events, students learn how to engage with their community and develop partnerships that can enhance their professional development.

Partnerships
The UCF CVHP have partnered with many community and University organizations to expand the project. Without these partners, the project would not have experienced the exponential growth it has seen over the past few years. A list of the Project’s partners can be found below.

Korean War Veterans, Chapter 169- Lake County, Florida
Mayflower at Winter Park
Orlando Recruit Training Reunion Committee
Student Veterans of America
UCF Library
UCF English Department, Literary Arts Project
Veterans Academic Resource Center
Watercrest Senior Living
Westminster Towers
JHT Corporate
LIFE Peer-to-Peer
Lone Sailor Survivor
Lockheed Martin
Stag of Winter Park
USS Observation Island Reunion

Project Funding
The UCF CVHP has received several awards and donations that help keep the project running.

Anne J. Caudal Foundation; Provided funding for the project since 2013.
Lockheed Martin
Korean War Veterans, Chapter 169
Community Donations

Read About the UCF CVHP in the News
Preserving ‘Our Legacy’” in America’s Forgotten Victory! Korea Veterans Greybeards.

A Month of Honor, Remembrance for Veterans” in UCF Today.

UCF Veterans Project Preserves Tales from Beyond The Battlefield” in Orlando Sentinel.

UCF Hosts 6th Veterans Commemoration Ceremony” in NSM Today.