Author - Joanne Roll

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From the Volunteer and RPCV
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What is a public record?
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In Search of the Historic Public Records of the Peace Corps

From the Volunteer and RPCV

  Mother Ship or Death Star, the voice of PC/DC, the Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington DC dominates in public records. It has been difficult for me to get beyond the administrative mode to find the authentic voice of actual Peace Corps Volunteers and others outside of official Washington. The DOS or Description of Service, the new Digital Library, the Information Collection and Exchange or ICE, and information from the Peace Corps Offices in Host Countries all include sources from outside PC/DC.  The late, but still lamented Peace Corps Library should also be included.  Let us start with the DOS and the Digital Library. Description of Service, or DOS. Sometimes referred to as COS, Close of Service document. Early Volunteers received a generic description of their service. It was the same for all members of the group, regardless of individual activities. The purpose for the DOS was to verify Peace . . .

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What is a public record?

The history of the Peace Corps can be found in the hearts and minds of people all over the world. It abounds in books and blogs, oral histories, letters, journals, and stories we tell each other and stories told by people in Host Countries about us. Public records are  a very small but critical part of this array. I focus on public records because they are the working documents that have been used, through time and space, in the operations of the Peace Corps.  They provide a historic framework. How they have been maintained through the last fifty years has varied because of technology as well as the perspective and regulations of the various administrations.  This following is based on my understanding of current procedures. So, what is a public record? Public records are created by a government agency to order to conduct the public business. These records could include everything . . .

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In Search of the Historic Public Records of the Peace Corps

Public records document the public business of government. Since 1961, the public business of Peace Corps has been to send almost 200,000 Volunteers to 138 countries to provide requested technical assistance. A public record of all that work would be invaluable.  So, I went looking for it. I began my search on a rainy afternoon in my favorite city to visit, Washington DC, at my favorite time of year, early spring. All the middle schools on the Atlantic seaboard, if not the whole country, empty out, outfit 7th graders in matching color T-shirts and send them off to explore their national’s capital. The kids are still young enough to be awed, but not too much. I loved to watch them carefully step over the string fences on the National Mall to play Frisbee on the newly sown grass. One special incident happened at the Smithsonian where the American flag from . . .

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