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Date: February 04, 2008

Vets' Stories Focus of Oral History Conference

Military history is more than official memos and reports about battles and deployments. The true nature of military life through the centuries is revealed through interviews with the men and women who served. The value, collection methods, and influence of military oral history will be discussed at the upcoming international military and oral history conference “Between Memory and History” at the Marriott Victoria Hotel Feb. 20 to 23.

The University of Victoria history department and the Royal United Services Institute of Vancouver Island (RUSI) are sponsoring the conference. For the past three years the department has offered students a veterans oral history project course in partnership with RUSI—the only university in Canada to include such a course in its curriculum.

“The work we do with local vets only covers one small area of the Canadian military experience,” says UVic history faculty member Shawn Cafferky who instructs the veterans oral history project. “We wanted the opportunity to collaborate with others to learn how to expand our initiative and make it a national project. We hope this conference will encourage and advance the use of oral history among those interested in all aspects of military history.”

The conference is expected to attract academic and military historians, librarians, archivists, history students, and those interested in collecting military history from those who witnessed it. They will share their knowledge about how to gather, archive and disseminate the information gained through past, current and future interviews.

UVic faculty members and history students will be among the presenters discussing the role of oral history in topics that include the role of Aboriginal servicewomen in Canada’s military in the Second World War, the not-so-easy life of Canadian military families in the Cold War, and the formative experiences of Canadian bomber crews in the Second World War.

In the conference keynote address, Dr. Gary Weir of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency will discuss the role of oral history in advance of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001 and the response to it. Col. Timothy Reese, of the US Army’s Combat Studies Institute will discuss his institute’s oral history project on the current global war on terror and several participants will discuss how film and television portrays the military and their battles on the panel “History and the Media.”

The conference is open to members of the public. Registration fees for the entire conference are $90/$75 for veterans. The general conference daily rate is $40. Tickets are also available for the conference banquet, featuring local award-winning author of Canadian military history books Mark Zuehlke. To register or for further information visit the conference website at web.uvic.ca/~veterans/ or contact Cafferky at 250-721-7287 or shawncaf@uvic.ca or UVic history professor David Zimmerman at 250-721-7287 or dzimmerm@uvic.ca.
Media contacts:
Shawn Cafferky (History) at 250-721-7287 or shawncaf@uvic.ca
Patty Pitts (UVic Communications) at 250-721-7656 or ppitts@uvic.ca

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

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