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Unexpected Finds in the PCCA

The Peace Corps Community Archive is more than old documents and  photos.  In fact, the collection contains a few unexpected items.

Travel Brochures

Travel guides and brochures found in Steven Bossi’s collection.

Steve Bossi’s collection includes vibrant travel brochures, guidebooks, and maps of India in the 1960s.  Guidebooks from Delhi and Agra include images and maps depicting the cities’ beautiful architecture and historic and religious sites.  Each guidebook provides an historic overview of the city and its tourist attractions.  The colorful maps reveal popular sites and accommodations, as well as industries, agriculture, infrastructure projects, and “handicrafts emporiums” found throughout the region.

Maps

Maps and travel guide from Steven Bossi’s collection.

Located amid the DeAntoni’s correspondence are Turkish greeting cards.  Karen DeAntoni sent the cards to family members in the United States in 1965.  The cards include embossed images and prints of engravings depicting Turkey’s culture and history.

Embossed Cards

Turkish embossed cards sent by Karen DeAntoni.

Engraved Cards

Top: An engraving of the rock relief at Yazilikaya–the Hitite King Tudhaliya IV. Engraving created by Charles Texier in the 1830s. Bottom: Ankara in 1701. From an engraving by Pitton de Tournefort.

Not only are these visually interesting, but they provide a new perspective of the places Peace Corps volunteers called home.

 

 

 

Peace Corps through Images: The People

Below are images of local citizens taken by Peace Corps volunteers.  Each photograph captures local culture and customs through the nation’s people — as artisans, students, families, and participants in celebrations.

“Paraguayan artisan making ‘nanduti’ (spider-web lace) in her home shop in Itagua, the center of the nanduti artistry.” Caption written by Robert Meade.

 

“Students husking–polishing the floor with a coconut husk. At 7:00 AM–before school duties.” Caption written by Joyce Emery Johnston

 

“Campesino home and family.” Caption written by Robert Meade.

 

PC Boge- Snake Charmer edit

Snake Charmer

 

Celebration. Captured by Norm and Janet Heise while working for Walt Sangree, professor of anthropology. circa 1963-1965.

 

RPCV Memoirs: Accomplishing the Third Goal

The Barrios of Manta

Memoirs capture an individual’s life.  For many RPCVs, writing about their life and work in another country provides the best way to educate others.

Rhoda and Earle Brooks, who served in Ecuador from 1962-1964, published the first Peace Corps memoir titled The Barrios of Manta: A Personal Account of the Peace Corps in Ecuador in 1965.  Shortly after, Arnold Zeitlin (1961-1963) published To the Peace Corps with Love—a memoir about his service in Ghana.   The Barrios of Manta and To the Peace Corps with Love established a precedent for future Peace Corps volunteers.

To the Peace Corps with Love edited

 

 

Upon completing their service abroad, Peace Corps challenges returned volunteers to carry out the organization’s Third Goal.  The goal aims to inform Americans about people and cultures around the world.  Through education about other nations and their people, the Peace Corps seeks to foster understanding and world peace.

Memoirs provide a platform for sharing one’s experiences and knowledge of their host country with the rest of the US.  For more information and an extensive bibliography of published works on the Peace Corps, visit Peace Corps Worldwide.

Worth A Thousand Words

Images offer a chance to peak inside someone else’s world.  Often, they provide the best means for understanding an event in the past, or an experience beyond our own comprehension.  This is especially true when it comes to the many exciting and exotic opportunities encountered by Peace Corps volunteers.

Reading about these experiences, or hearing RPCVs recall stories from the past, doesn’t convey the same understanding as seeing it with your own eyes–even if that means through a photograph.  While they may have faced difficult challenges and unpleasant moments, Peace Corps volunteers also witnessed beautiful landscapes, sampled local cuisine, and embraced traditional cultures and customs.

From ordinary to the unusual, images in the PCCA depict the wide variety of Peace Corps volunteers’ experiences.  Enjoy a few of the images found in the collection.

Miango Village near Jos. Home of the Irigwe people studied by Walt Sangree, professor of anthropology at Rochester University. circa 1963-1965.

 

Pearl Diver

A Peace Corps volunteer followed by a crowd of children. Winifred Boge remembered, “she always got a big ‘following’–she was smiling and friendly to all.”

 

Peace Corps volunteer on top of a termite mound in Concepcion, Paraguay.

 

 

 

Love and Marriage in the Peace Corps

Not only did the Peace Corps experience provide opportunities to travel and develop skills, but also led to the development of romantic relationships between volunteers.  Norm Heise noted the Peace Corps’ reputation for “being the best ‘unofficial matrimonial agency’ going at the time.”  The PCCA collection includes several stories of volunteers’ dating escapades, but there are also two instances where volunteers married during their service.

August 18, 1963, St. Paul’s Chapel, Columbia University

Norm and Janet served as teachers at Toro Teaching Training College, in Northern Nigeria, from 1963-1965.  After meeting in training at Columbia University, Norm Heise proposed to Janet Driggs.  The two had known each other for less than a week.  The couple married in August before departing in September for their assignments in Nigeria.  As a result of their marriage, Peace Corps altered their placements to ensure the couple traveled, lived, and shared the experience together.  Their collection includes photos and stories of their work in Nigeria.

Norm and Janet Heise in Toro, Nigeria, 1963

The DeAntoni’s story is a bit different.  Both members of Turkey IV, Ed and Karen met during training and maintained contact while working in separate towns.  The two friends began a romantic relationship, in the midst of their service, after connecting at a party.  Karen wrote her parents on August 12, 1965, “I’m afraid this will come as an awful surprise, but then it’s more fun that way—last night I got engaged!”  Because of the distance and the realization her parents did not know Ed, Karen anxiously awaited their response.  Ed informed his parents by writing, “Before you start reading this, sit down, get composed, light a cigarette…In a word, it’s too good to be true.  Karen and I became engaged last night, and I’m so happy I could cry.”  Their collection of letters uniquely presents their same experiences from different points of view.

Karen’s letter to her parents announcing her engagement to Ed DeAntoni, August 12, 1965

PC Karen DeAntoni Letter 002

Karen’s letter (pg. 2), August 12, 1965

PC Karen DeAntoni Letter 003

Karen’s letter (pg. 3), August 12, 1965

Although Ed and Karen initially planned to return to the US to marry, they quickly decided to hold a wedding in Ankara, Turkey.  Their desire to travel together, avoid inconveniencing roommates, and being in love seemed sufficient enough.  The approaching marriage influenced many of the couple’s letters home—especially Karen’s—discuss wedding plans, financial needs, and concerns about family planning.

The DeAntoni’s wedding invitation, 1966

It is not surprising that living closely with other volunteers and sharing life-changing experiences established lasting bonds—both friendly and romantic.  In a letter to his parents, Ed explained, “This common experience has given us a tremendous basis for learning about each other, a common feeling for so many things, and the ground for our love to grow and flourish.”  For many volunteers, this experience of surviving a new place, establishing relationships, and sharing similar goals fostered the development of many romantic relationships.

Resource: Peace Corps Digital Library

The Peace Corps Digital Library collects and displays images and stories from Peace Corps staff and volunteers.    It’s a great place to begin if you are interested in learning about or conducting research on the organization’s history and work around the world.

From the main page, it is easy to browse the collection for photos and stories from the agency, staff and volunteers.  Also included in the digital collection, are technical and training materials, brochures, graphics, and volunteer and agency documents.  Peace Corps Digital Library offers similar materials to those in the Peace Corps Community Archive, but also differs in several ways.

Differences between PCCA and the Peace Corps Digital Library

PCCA accepts only materials from returned volunteers.  At this time, PCCA does not collect materials from former Peace Corps staff.  The collection includes original materials—diaries, notebooks, training materials, slides, video, images, and sound recordings—created during volunteers’ training and service abroad.  Although it isn’t possible to search at the item level, it is possible to search collections using the online catalog.  The search feature allows researchers to identify collections containing specific types of items using key terms and categories.

The Peace Corps Digital Library only accepts materials in digital format and is completely online.  Having the content online enables users to search key terms, dates, types of materials, creator, and subject, which makes it easier to locate specific images or documents.  PCCA’s collection level approach facilitates establishing context and drawing conclusions about the Peace Corps experience.

Peace Corps Digital Library also differs from the PCCA because it includes a “story” component where volunteers and staff contribute stories about their Peace Corps experiences.  Volunteers and staff may write and submit one story in 1,500 words or less to be published in the digital library.  The PCCA collects volunteers’ stories, conveyed through archival documents, as well as unpublished memoirs but not individual stories.

For more information on contributing, or to browse items in the Peace Corps Digital Library visit their site.  If you have more than a single story or image to share with the public, consider donating to the Peace Corps Community Archive.

Christine Wenk-Harrison in Sierra Leone

Christine Wenk-Harrison

Country of Service: Sierra Leone
Service Type: Education
Dates in Service: 1969-1971
Keywords: Education, Youth

Accession Date: April 1, 2014
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 1 linear inch

Document Types

  • Art work
  • Lesson plans
  • Training materials

From AU’s Collections: Friends of Nigeria

The Friends of Nigeria Archive is another resource for learning about Peace Corps in Africa.   Founded in 1996, the organization seeks to educate the public about Nigeria and promote continual service to the Nigerian people.  As the national network for Nigeria Peace Corps alumni, Friends of Nigeria includes returned volunteers and staff, as well as members of other organizations who served in the country.

In 2010, Friends of Nigeria–an affiliate group of the National Peace Corps Association–established their Archive at American University.  Friends of Nigeria Archive includes organizational records consisting of by-laws, annual reports, newsletters, financial records, and membership directories.  However, the archive also includes  many collections donated by members of group.  Items of interest include audio recordings, memoirs, photographs, and correspondence.

Several of the collections included in the Peace Corps Community Archives are from the Friends of Nigeria Archive.  Be sure to browse the Catalog for specific collections with materials from volunteers’ training and service in Nigeria.

Sources:
“Welcome Friends of Nigeria,” http://www.friendsofnigeria.org/
“Special Collections,” AU Library, (2014)    http://www.american.edu/library/archives/collections.cfm
Sarah Kana, “Friends of Nigeria Supports WE CARE Solar,” National Peace Corps Association (2014) http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/2012/05/friends-of-nigeria-supports-we-care-solar/

New Arrivals: Peace Corps Orientation in Paraguay

As Paraguay III arrived in December 1969, Peace Corps staff greeted and educated new volunteers about the place they would call home for the next two years.

“Arrival of Paraguay III volunteers, Asuncion International Airport, December 1969.”

 

“Assistant Director Tony Bellotti addressing newly-arrived Paraguay III volunteers in Peace Corps office, Asuncion.”

The previous images, as well as the ones that follow, are part of the Robert Meade collection.  As a member of Paraguay II from 1968-1969, Meade traveled throughout Paraguay documenting his experiences.  Those images enabled Meade to create a slide show to educate new trainees, as well as others, about Paraguay.  Included in his slide show are images of eastern Paraguay, historic sites, Peace Corps activities, and the capital city Asuncion.  Meade’s orientation slide show presents unique images of the country and people, and ultimately provides volunteers with an idea of the places and work they might experience.  After completing his two-year commitment, Meade continued working as a trainer in Peace Corps training centers located in Escondido, California and Ponce, Puerto Rico. [Note: All image captions were written by Robert Meade.]

“Itinerant vegetable vendor, Asuncion.”

“‘Campo’ about 50 miles east of Asuncion along the main road.”

“Paraguayan girls selling ‘chipa,’ a chewy cheese bread found throughout the country, Eusebio Ayala.”

“Near Colonia Sroessner, far east Paraguay.”

 

“The Church of San Roque in Caazapa. Caazapa was founded in 1607 as a Franciscan mission. The town’s name means ‘after the forest’ or ‘in the clearing’ in Guarani.”

 

“Curing yerba mate over a mud over. Mate, an herbal tea, is the favored drink in the Paraguayan countryside.”

To see more images from Paraguay, visit the AU Archives and browse the Robert Meade Collection.