Voices of World War 1 Poster

The Voices of World War One

by Kendall F. Wiggin, State Librarian

The Connecticut State Library is proud to be a collaborative partner in the “Voices of World War I” project which features human-narrated audio versions of historic documents in the Connecticut State Library’s collections and recorded by Connecticut Radio Information System [CRIS] volunteers. The project also includes the development of new technologies to render hard-copy historical documents into accessible formats for individuals with print disabilities. The new technology tools were developed by our other project partner, IDEAL Group, an Ohio-based company that makes accessible mobile applications for people with disabilities.

CRIS Radio Recordings
Remembering World War One

Thousands of people in Connecticut are blind or have difficulty reading traditional print, meaning that they have limited access to historic primary source records and documents, something most researchers take for granted. CRIS Radio, the Connecticut State Library, and IDEAL Group collaborated on this pilot project, funded in part by a grant from the National Historic Records & Publications Commission (National Archives), to develop a first-of-its-kind service for providing access to historic records and documents with human-narrated recordings, especially for those who are blind or unable to read due to other print disabilities. A primary project goal was to provide the same access to primary source documents that other students, researchers, and citizens enjoy but that are otherwise difficult for those with vision or print disabilities to discover, use and evaluate. Another goal was to develop technology that will allow archivists, teachers, librarians, and researchers to more easily provide greater accessibility to their archival records and historical documents.

More than I00 historic documents and archival were selected from the Connecticut State Archives’ extensive collection of World War I materials to be narrated. These documents included first-person accounts of the war gathered from diaries, letters to home, and questionnaires completed by servicemen and women upon their return to the United States after the war. The human-narrated audio recordings bring to life the thoughts and experiences of Connecticut residents and service personnel during  and after World War I. Additionally, the project recorded government-produced pamphlets, such as “Cutting Your Meat Bills with Milk,” and on Americanism by “being neighborly with immigrant families.” Newspaper articles about the war and the war effort were also narrated.

The recordings and new technology tools are available on the Voice of WWI webpage on CRIS Radio’s website .  Details about the technology developed for this project will be updated on the website during the next several months. The State Library continues to work with CRIS Radio and IDEAL Group to develop the project from a pilot into a service to aid researchers and students with print disabilities who wish to access the State Archives.

Remembering World War One: A Community Centered Approach to Commemoration

By Christine Pittsley Project Manager World War I Project, Connecticut State Library

As the centenary of America’s entry into World War One approaches, libraries and museums around the country are trying to figure out how to commemorate a war that has had an enormous impact on our nation yet is not well understood by the majority of Americans. One way of addressing this is a ground-up approach that examines the war from the local and individual perspective. Here at the Connecticut State Library, in partnership with the Connecticut Digital Archive (CTDA), we’ve launched a project called “Remembering World War One: Sharing History/Preserving Memories,” a digital preservation repository at the University of Connecticut Libraries. We are creating an extensive digital archive of privately owned WWI photos, papers, keepsakes and knowledge collected at public events around the state. The digital images we capture, along with information and stories from our participants, are added to the CTDA for access and preservation and are freely available for use by scholars, students or anyone interested in learning more about the war.