During the summer of 2013, I interned at the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial. Sarah Hagarty, the Memorial’s curator, had been doing a lot of great work organizing forums comprised of veterans and historians alike to educate the public about various topics of scholarship about the Vietnam War. In one of our conversations, she mentioned that she was organizing a forum that would address American women’s experiences in the military during the Vietnam War. I was immediately intrigued, and submitted a proposal to write my senior thesis on this topic.
Through this Omeka project, I hope to transform my thesis for a digital platform. Between 10-15,000 women served in the military in Vietnam, but their experiences have all but remained on the periphery of historical scholarship. It is my hope to make my research and the research of historians on this topic available online for a larger audience.
The 1960s and 1970s on the American home front was a time of social change and activism for various groups, including women. Through the site, I hope to infuse an understanding of these changes in how women understood themselves and their decision to go to Vietnam. I also hope to spark a conversation about what women’s experiences said about the relationship between the military and women. By including already published oral histories (both audio and transcript files), pictures, military pamphlets, and short narrative pieces about women’s lives before, during, and after their tours of duty, I hope to make this story an accessible one. I seek to use spatial mapping tools to place women's experiences on a map in various of areas served in Vietnam. Ultimately, I hope to make this Omeka site a starting point for citizen historians, veterans, and academics alike who want to learn more about the topic outside of my project.