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The American Soldier in World War II

The American Soldier in World War II

The American Soldier in World War II is a project to make available to scholars and to the public a remarkable collection of written reflections on war and military service by American soldiers who served during the Second World War. Based on a unique, mixed-format data collection produced by the US Army during the war, this open-access digital project is a joint venture of VT’s Department of History, Sociology, University Libraries, Computational Modelling and Data Analytics Program, Advanced Research Computing, and Center for Human-Computer Interaction, as well as, externally, the US National Archives, University of Virginia, National Endowment for the Humanities, Cast Iron Coding, and Zooniverse.org

The project started as a pedagogical experiment between faculty members in the Departments of History and Computer Science (CS). It now includes thousands of volunteers from across the globe. The goal is to make available to scholars and the public the voices of tens of thousands of American soldiers, all uncensored. Volunteers are invited to contribute to the project by participating in crowdsourced transcription efforts

A local news story highlights some of the project transcription work.

The project’s interdisciplinary team is working at the forefront of human-computer interaction, from crowdsourced transcription and annotation to VR technologies. The project director Edward J.K. Gitre is an Assistant Professor of History at Virginia Tech and a member of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction (CHCI). Other CHCI members and the expertise they bring to this innovative history project include: Kurt Luther (CS) works on crowdsourcing transcription and annotation; Doug Bowman (CS) uses VR technologies to help organize, analyze and make sense of large data collection; Corinne Guimont (VT Libraries) works on coordinating the efforts to support this project within the library, including outreach for the transcribe-a-thons, data management planning, and metadata development; Xavier Pleimling (CS PhD student) has done extensive work data cleaning the crowd sourced information;  Lee Lisle (CS, PhD student) works on designing virtual and augmented reality tools to assist with understanding relationships between the documents. This interdisciplinary work is further supported by Michael Hughes, a VT sociology professor who was recently recognized for his research, including work with datasets as part of the American Soldier in World War II project.