UTSA, OLLU Researchers to Use NEH Grant For Female Military History Archive Project

Two researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) have received a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the establishment of a digital oral history archive dedicated to women in the military during different periods of war.

During the two year collaborative project, “An Oral History Project Dedicated to Women and War”, co-directors Kirsten E. Gardner, an associate professor and chair of the UTSA Department of History and Valerie A. Martinez, assistant professor of history at OLLU will use the funds to expand traditional military history to include minority women and females from other underrepresented groups, according to a UTSA release.

The project also supports experiential learning for UTSA and OLLU humanities students to gain experience transcribing, narrating, conducting oral histories and organizing historical data into an archive.

“As women are eligible for all roles within the U.S. military, including combat, and occupy historically exclusive male positions, this project will be one of the first to document and analyze the significance of female military combat participation and how this has impacted their wartime and postwar lives,” said Gardner.

Undergraduate and graduate students from the two institutions will interview 50 women who served or are currently serving in the military to learn about the racial and gender issues they experienced while in the military, what influenced them to join the military and how their service has impacted them and their families.

“Usually you hear military history from the male perspective and this project is unique because we put women’s stories at the forefront. People love stories and can learn so much from the oral histories that students will collect,” said Gardner.

In addition, UTSA and OLLU students will be eligible to apply for paid internships to participate in this research project during the spring and fall 2020 semesters.

UTSA Libraries will house the digital and archival records provided from the oral interviews. Within the project, an anthology will be created which consists of a series of faculty and student written articles geared towards highlighting the best practices in Veterans Oral History, Military History, Women’s History and teaching gender and military history.

The project will begin with the launch of the Oral History Institute in May 2019.

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