Preserving the Individual Soldier’s Digital Record
of the 69th Regiment’s Iraq and Afghanistan Deployments
The 69th Regiment has a long and storied history that has been well documented. One of the best sources of that history is the first-hand accounts of those who served in the Unit.
As the tenth anniversary of the Regiment’s deployment to Iraq is reached during 2014, it is crucial to collect and archive the recollections of those who served so the Unit’s modern history can be more fully documented and preserved.
The goal of the digital records project is to preserve the electronic communications between members of the Regiment who deployed and their families and friends. A similar effort will be undertaken for those who deployed to Afghanistan.
For the first time in history, most communication with the “home front” was conducted digitally. Unfortunately, many of the digital, first-hand accounts are in danger of being lost since electronic “letters home” will not be saved in boxes in the attic as with past generations. Some may already be lost since digital files are easily “dumped.”
The project will seek to acquire any emails, photos, videos, and hard copy of hand-written correspondence that have survived over the years in personal files.
As an optional part of the process, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about their experiences as they prepared for deployment, while deployed, and once they returned home. (A similar questionnaire is used by the New York State Military Museum as part of its Veteran Oral History Program.)
The questionnaire information will provide an individual record of each veteran’s recollections as well as important background information. And, if the veteran has any digital records he or she wishes to donate to the Regiment’s archives those items will also be preserved and catalogued.
Time is critical when dealing with the preservation of digital files since they degrade over time. As events over the next year will focus on the tenth anniversary of the Regiment’s near-history deployments, a unique opportunity exists to launch and conduct this special project.
Feedback is most welcome.