Why a Center for Oral History?

Oral history supplements traditional sources, such as books, articles, and operational reports, by providing first-hand accounts from actual participants. As a discipline, oral history values accuracy, but it is more interested in the myriad ways in which events are perceived, interpreted, and remembered. Any examination of a battle acquires powerful immediacy and poignancy when it incorporates individual soldiers' experiences in the analytical narrative.

What is the Center for Oral History?

The mission of the West Point Center for Oral History (COH) is to record, preserve, and present the stories of Soldiers, statesmen, and others who have influenced the profession of arms, in order to inspire, educate, and develop cadets, enhance the public’s understanding of the experience of the Soldier, and create new primary source material for scholars. Unlike many oral history programs, the COH provides content that includes both audio and video components, enabling viewers not only to hear the speaker’s tone, emphasis, and cadence, but also to observe body language and facial gestures indicating introspection or amusement, adding a powerful emotional element to the user experience.