NEW ORLEANS (March 6, 2014) — The National WWII Museum is embarking on a major new initiative, this time online, with the release of 150 oral histories and 5,000 wartime images, including rare color photos. Fully searchable, this digital collection forms the nucleus of what will become an ever-expanding repository of fascinating WWII materials accessible to all at ww2online.org.
Today's announcement underscores the Museum’s reputation as the premier resource for all things related to the American experience in WWII. While thousands have viewed excerpts from the combat veterans’ interviews on the Museum’s six-acre campus (such recollections will be prominently featured in the upcoming Campaigns of Courage: European and Pacific Theaters pavilion), millions more will be able to watch the interviews, many an hour or more in length, in their entirety online. There is no charge for most non-commercial use of the digitized material.
"This digitization effort helps to fulfill our goal to provide deep and meaningful access to our oral history and photo archives for the public and for students and scholars of all ages," says Dr. Gordon H. "Nick" Mueller, President and CEO of The National WWII Museum. "Putting our valuable collections online helps us stay relevant in an increasingly digital world."
Visitors to ww2online.org will find much that fascinates, including eyewitness accounts of D-Day at Normandy, the Battle of Guadalcanal and the liberation of Dachau. Also included is a nearly hour-long interview with Henry Ettlinger, one of the famed Monuments Men who saved Europe’s cultural treasures, a story that has become the subject of the George Clooney film of the same name. The photographs range from images of the Home Front to battlefields across the globe to very personal snapshots like one of army nurses digging a garden on the South Pacific outpost of New Caledonia.
"You can dip in briefly or dive deep to explore dozens of interesting topics," Mueller explains. "The site’s designed for both the public and historians who have either hours or minutes to visit, and it’s easy to search and navigate."
Items are searchable by date, location, battle, subject, unit, theater and more. Type in "Marine Corps" and "Iwo Jima," for example, and dozens of images will display, ranging from beach battle scenes to a photograph of a priest giving Holy Communion to a Fourth Division Marine.
The Museum’s digitization effort began in 2009 with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), part of the agency’s effort to explore innovative ways to navigate, describe and present oral histories online. Other sponsors include The Randforce Associates and National History Day (NHD).
The Museum possesses more than 7,000 video oral histories. The project’s goal is to put much more of these interviews online, as well as additional archival images. Much of the new content will focus on the D-Day invasion of Normandy in conjunction with the Museum’s 70th anniversary commemoration of this historic battle.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world — why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-527-6012 or visit www.nationalww2museum.org. Follow us on Twitter at WWIImuseum or visit our Facebook fan page.