Peace Corps history is written in the memories and hearts of the people we served as Peace Corps Volunteers. It is contained in the stories we tell each other and the books written by RPCVs. There is another critically important source for Peace Corps history. It is in the letters, the reports, the photos, and the videos from your Peace Corps service. Now as Peace Corps, the agency, reduces its historical footprint, your memorabilia must be preserved. Peace Corps has not had an in-house library for over fifteen years. It does not accept any donations from RPCVs to archive. The National Archives and Record Administration archives federal records from federal agencies, not individuals. We are in process of asking if they would accept documents from RPCVs. However, right now, there are three archives, which are currently accepting personal memorabilia from RPCVs. Please consider donating your items. Here are the Archives:
American University – (Private University)
This information is copied from the website of the Peace Corps Community Archive at American University.
“The Peace Corps Community Archive curated by the American University Library collects, preserves, and makes available materials that were created and acquired by Peace Corps Volunteers. The archive is used to support student and scholarly research, create exhibits, and provide educational and public programs that document the experiences and impact of individuals who served in the Peace Corps”. American University.”
“Why You Should Donate Materials to the Community Archive
Personal memorabilia from RPCVs’ service are needed in order to create a living history of the Peace Corps and the communities where volunteers have served. In order for the archive to provide rich and detailed information about this history, it must include materials from as many different countries of service and time periods as possible. By donating to the archive you will be ensuring that your personal legacy of Peace Corps service will not be forgotten; instead, your service will continue to have a positive impact for generations to come.
Donate to the Collection
If you are interested in making a donation please contact the archive at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at +1 (202) 885-3256. Our archivists will be happy to answer your questions and guide you through the process of making a donation.”
Museum of the Peace Corps Experience
From the website:
“Hello to our all our friends. Our national Committee has just returned from the Peace Corps Connect Conference in Denver, Colorado. We are excited to tell you about our project of building a permanent museum of the Peace Corps Experience, to emphasize how important your participation is as an RPCV and to report progress in moving our project forward.
We are preparing to collect items in the near future. Once part of the collection, items will be documented and digitized to create a virtual museum as an integral part of communicating the Peace Corps experience. The museum will require data about items and will accept art, artifacts, handicraft, utensils, furniture and clothing along with your stories, documents, images and photographs, memories and ideas.”
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library – https://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/Archives/RPCV.aspx?f=1 The library has memorabilia from RPCVs who served during the Kennedy years and RPCVs oral histories from all years. Peace Corps Staff who served during Kennedy Administration may als0 have contributed personal papers to the JFK Library. https://www.jfklibrary.org/~/media/assets/Reference/RPCV%20Collection%20Policy.pdf
If you were a Peace Corps Volunteer or a Peace Corps trainee on or before November 22, 1963, the Library is interested in your memorabilia. This is the contact information from the JFK Library: ”
- Acquisitions email: Acquisitions.Kennedy@nara.gov
- Acquisitions voicemail line: 617.514.1642
- Acquisitions mailing address: Director of Archives, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Columbia Point, Boston, MA 02125
The JFK Library also has a collection of oral histories by RPCVs from all times. This is a Third Goal activity begun by RPCV Bob Klein and continued by his partner RPCV Phyllis Noble. The oral histories are all conducted by RPCVs on a volunteer basis and then accepted for the collection by the JFK Library. Sadly, Phyllis died in May of 2017. The oral history project is in a state of transition. It is hoped that it will become an affiliate group of the National Peace Corps Association and will be able to interview any and all interested RPCVs. Here is an earlier description of the project: https://peacecorpsworldwide.org/rpcv-oral-history-collection-at-the-john-f-kennedy-library-update/
Each of these archives does have guidelines describing what it will accept. If you are not able to donate your items, there are two other places to investigate. If you trained at a university or college in theUnited States, contact their library. Many of them do have Peace Corps collections. Also, if you attended a college or university, contact your library, they may well accept your items.
In the age of the Internet, it will be possible, some day, to create a online comprehensive catalog of all these items, even if they are physically archived in separate locations.