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Book project seeks war photos, stories

Next week, librarian Martha Kounse will see photographs few have seen.

Thursday, December 06, 2001

Next week, librarian Martha Kounse will see photographs few have seen.

As part of the Lawrence County Historical Society’s and Briggs Library’s project to document oral histories and records of area veterans, Mrs. Kounse will take a portable photo scanner to Jackson to copy pictures from a late World War II soldier’s collection.

One picture shows the bomber "Enola Gay" that dropped the atomic bomb and ended the war with Japan – a war which started 60 years ago Friday as planes attacked Pearl Harbor.

Everyone’s entitled to see such snapshots of history, said Sharon Bradshaw, historical society member whose work years ago led to the current project partnership.

"We want other people to come in and be able to say, ‘That’s my great-great grandfather ,’" she said.

Eventually dozens upon dozens of veterans stories and photos will be bound together for the library’s collection.

Mrs. Bradshaw first thought of preserving histories of veterans in her family after taking an oral history class at Marshall University. She grew up hearing "war stories," she said, adding that she’s had some material for 10 years.

Lately, with the renewed interest in preserving veterans’ stories, and through her work on the local Veterans Memorial Committee, the idea blossomed, she said.

"History’s always been important to me," Mrs. Bradshaw said, adding that the veterans collection needs to be at the library and the historical society "so people can see about their family’s history."

Now, the library has joined the efforts, recording oral histories as part of a nationwide Library of Congress campaign.

Some of those oral histories – featured recently in The Ironton Tribune – have transcripts ready for putting into the book, Mrs. Kounse said.

About 30 veterans have been interviewed so far, and more than two dozen remain to be scheduled, with more names added to the list almost every day, she said.

"It’s wonderful, the response we’ve had to this."

Each interview, with pictures if possible, will be reproduced and placed together in the book. An index will list names and places, so it’s easily searched by families and veterans alike, Mrs. Kounse said.

Copies of the oral histories will also be sent to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to be archived there as well.

For more information about the oral history and book project, contact Mrs. Kounse at the library at 532-1124, or Sharon Bradshaw at the Lawrence County Law Library, 533-0582. Or, visit the Briggs Library Web site, http://www.briggslibrary.com (Click the resources link for the Veterans Oral History project).