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ERIC Number: EJ1043115
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Oct
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7724
Mud, Blood, and Bullet Holes: Teaching History with War Letters
Carroll, Andrew
Social Education, v77 n5 p235-238 Oct 2013
From handwritten letters of the American Revolution to typed emails from Iraq and Afghanistan, correspondence from U.S. troops offers students deep insight into the specific conflicts and experiences of soldiers. Over 100,000 correspondences have been donated to the Legacy Project, a national initiative launched in 1998 to preserve war letters by U.S. troops and their loved ones. Beginning with handwritten missives penned during the American Revolution and continuing up to typed emails sent from Iraq and Afghanistan, these letters show the full spectrum of emotions that military personnel and their family members experience in times of armed conflict. Millions of war letters remain tucked away in attics, closets, and basements throughout America, just waiting to be found. (Many of the best submissions sent to the Legacy Project are from students who asked their parents or other relatives if they still had their wartime correspondences, and the search for these letters can be educational in itself). Original letters are no more or less historically significant than other primary sources, like personal diaries, photographs, or oral histories. Together, however, all of these media complement each other well and provide a fuller understanding of war's impact on those who serve and their families on the home front. They remind us that studying the past is not solely about memorizing places, events, and dates or arguing abstract theories. It's about actual people, who have seen history unfold before their very eyes, and their words bring these eyewitness accounts vividly to life.
National Council for the Social Studies. 8555 Sixteenth Street #500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel: 800-683-0812; Tel: 301-588-1800; Fax: 301-588-2049; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A