Home to War Archive and Upcoming Exhibit Shed Light on the Vietnam War
The Briscoe Center is home to the Home to War/Vietnam Veterans Archive, an extensive collection of materials depicting the struggles and memories of U.S. soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War. Gerald Nicosia compiled the archive in the course of writing his monumental work Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans’ Movement (2001). The center will open Vietnam: Evidence of War, a spring 2016 exhibit, at the LBJ Presidential Library.
“This extraordinary archive provides an essential perspective on the Vietnam War,” said Don Carleton, executive director at the Briscoe Center. “It affords scholars the opportunity to study how veterans brought significant and often controversial attention to the conduct of the war and its impact on them and our nation.”
Gerald Nicosia was a teenager in the 1960s when America’s role in the Vietnam War escalated. A writer and journalist, Nicosia began documenting the stories and feelings of Vietnam veterans in 1984. Over the next fourteen years he researched a vast range of personal stories, public records, and veterans archives that were eventually distilled into Home to War.
The archive houses more than 20,000 pages of transcribed interviews with more than 600 veterans and advocates, including such leading figures in the Vietnam veterans’ anti-war movement as John Kerry, Bobby Muller, and Ron Kovic. The archive contains approximately 17,000 pages of FBI records related to the bureau’s surveillance of Vietnam veterans in the 1970s. Also included are the only extant archive of the American Veteran’s Movement (AVM); sixty rare videos of important Vietnam War veteran events; a large body of correspondence; and hundreds of copies of numerous Vietnam War veterans’ newspapers.
“The archive underscores the value of preserving the personal stories of American soldiers,” said Carleton. “Every aspect of the Vietnam War is covered, including
the health effects of the herbicide Agent Orange, post-traumatic stress disorder, and the general mistreatment of veterans in VA hospitals.”
The Nicosia archive will feature prominently in Vietnam: Evidence of War, a Briscoe Center exhibition that opens in April 2016 at the LBJ Presidential Library. The exhibit will convey how the Vietnam War and its legacy were experienced, as seen through the eyes of the Americans who lived it. The center’s collections will be used to present the viewpoints of soldiers and veterans, politicians, reporters, photojournalists, the general public and protesters through iconic photographs, artifacts, letters, posters, and oral history interviews.