About the Peace Corps Oral History Project

"The Project recruits and trains former volunteers to serve as interviewers. A person who has been a PCV has enough in common with another PCV to be able to conduct an effective interview, relying on one’s own curiosity and imagination, and making use of an established interview protocol."

 

Robert Klein, RPCV Ghana 1961-1963, in “Archival Project,” October 11, 2011

The oral history project was initiated in 1999 by Robert Klein (Ghana I, 1961-1963) when Peace Corps celebrated its 35th anniversary in an effort to capture the individual experiences of every volunteer who trained and served in Ghana I. He noted that several volunteers in Ghana I had died and taken their precious stories with them. He realized that pieces of Peace Corps history were disappearing. Working with archivists at JFK Presidential Library, Klein developed the protocol for oral history interviewing.

 

The in-depth interview includes a discussion of the volunteer’s life before Peace Corps, Peace Corps training, the experience of serving as a volunteer in-country, and reflections on the impact Peace Corps service had on the volunteer, the host country and the United States. Interviews average sixty to ninety minutes.

 

Klein soon discovered the need to expand the project to capture Peace Corps stories from as many countries and eras as possible. He conducted dozens of interviews and over time trained 25 other RPCVs to do the same. Before his death in 2012 he asked his friend Phyllis Noble (Nigeria 1965-1967) to lead the effort, which she tirelessly did until 2017.

 

Currently, the Project is managed by a leadership team:

  • Amy Amessoudji (Returned Volunteer, Guinea 1995 - 1997)
  • Candy Wiggum (Returned Volunteer, Republic of North Macedonia 2009 - 2012)
  • Cedar Wolf (Returned Volunteer, Namibia 2006 - 2008, Philippines 2011), Webmaster
  • Christie Musa (Returned Volunteer, Sierra Leone 1981-1983)
  • Evelyn Ganzglass (Returned Volunteer, Somalia 1966 - 1968), Coordinator
  • Harry Bennett (Returned Volunteer, Belize 2002 - 2004)
  • Jay Sztuk (Returned Volunteer, Fiji 1974 - 1976)
  • Patricia Wand (Returned Volunteer, Colombia 1963 - 1965)
  • Scott King (Returned Volunteer, Chad 1970 - 1971)