Category Archives: Agriculture

Records We Collect; Records That Tell Stories

Throughout the blog, you have probably noticed the various records we use to tell the stories of Peace Corps Volunteers. This post highlights some of the more common types of records that volunteers donate and record their experiences with.

The most common type of record that PCVs donate that tell their story is letters. Volunteers send correspondence back and forth with their family and friends for two years in which they express their accomplishments, frustrations, and describe their everyday life. A letter like the one below, air mail, was a familiar sight for families as it was the fastest and most common way volunteers sent letters.

Joyce Emery Johnston served in the Philippines in Education from 1965-1967.

Similar to correspondence is volunteers’ journals or diaries. These are where volunteers write more in depth about their daily activities and daily thoughts. Diaries are used to preserve memories, and some volunteers even start keeping diaries in the language of their host country as seen below.

David Day served in Kenya and India in Agriculture from 1965-1967.

David Day served in Kenya and India in Agriculture from 1965-1967.

A way that volunteers formally share their experiences is through memoirs. Alan Crew compiled his memoir as a gift to his son upon his graduation from college. In it he details his life in Nigeria and includes pictures of where he worked.

Alan Crew served in Nigeria in Education from 1965-1966.

Along with writing, volunteers also take many photos during their service to show their friends and families where they work and live. While most volunteers take regular digital photos, many early volunteers also used slides.

Patricia Kay served in Kenya in Education from 1966-1968.

Patricia Kay served in Kenya in Education from 1966-1968.

Volunteers also send home postcards when they travel or want to share more photos of their host country.

Tina Singleton served in Benin in Health Education from 1992-1996.

Along with these records, some volunteers also take videos of their service experience. The video below was taken by Brian Adler who served in Suriname with his wife Cindy from 2002-2004. In this clip he gives a tour of where he and Cindy lived, and the video goes on to show a village party, soccer game, and conversations with the villagers.

Bryan and Cynthia Adler in Marchall Kreek 

For volunteers who either could not write home or found this method easier, they recorded audio tapes. This audio clip is from Richard Holmquist to his fiance Ann. In the full recording, he discusses his work as a professor at UMBC, how he met Ann, and what he did in Nigeria from 1966-1968. In this clip he discusses a need in Nigeria for lifeguards.                                           (play button is on the far left).

 

Along with these personal records, Peace Corps Volunteers also donate some of their official Peace Corps paperwork. These include certificates of training and service completion, letters of service acceptance, and volunteer ID cards like Debby Prigal’s below.

Debby Prigal served in Ghana in Education from 1981-1983.

The Peace Corps Community Archives holds many other different types of records such as architectural drawings, posters, newspapers, training materials, correspondence from the Peace Corps and various governments, and much more. But the handful of records highlighted here are the main forms of learning about what a Peace Corps Volunteer experienced while abroad.

 

Creating their Stamp Around the World: Postal Stamps of the PCCA

Stamps often feature flora, fauna, or an interesting image related to the country or region it’s created for. Also, Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) had the lucky chance to live and serve in countries all over the world. As a happy consequence, the two come together when PCVs send their mail home via exciting and new stamps from the countries they served. The Peace Corps Community Archive (PCCA) houses collections of correspondence between PCVs and their family and friends. These correspondences oftentimes include the envelopes each letter was sent in, which means the stamps are often intact. Much can be learned from these stamps, including, illustrations of native inhabitants, local flora and fauna, important technological advances, and much more. Not only do these stamps help carry connections back home for PCVs, but the stamps also share an insight into the exciting communities they served.

Charlotte Daigle-Berney served in Uganda from 1966-1968. On a postcard dated February 1967, she included these three stamps, which feature the local fauna of Uganda. The set of these stamps were released on October 9th, 1965. The stamps feature, from left to right, the Black Bee-Eater, the Narina Trogon, and the Ruwenzori Turaco. All three are native species to Uganda and represent the environmental climate of the country. These stamps offer insight into the vibrant fauna of the country in order to excite both visitors and locals to the nature around them.

 

In addition, Albert and Anne Briggs served in Malaysia from 1964-1966. Anne wrote a letter to her parents on January 5, 1967 and included these stamps. The stamp was released on November 15, 1965 and features the local flora of Malaysia, the Rhynchostylis retusa, also called the Foxtail Orchid. Below, it reads the name “Sarawak,” a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo. By “reading” this stamp, one can connect the beautiful flora with a specific location in Malaysia and thereby gather important information about the stamp’s place of origin.

 

Lastly, Bobbe Seibert served in Honduras in the year 2000. Some of her communication with back home was through email, however, Seibert did send a multitude of letters. The first stamp features a nurse tending to a patient and the words, “Correos de Honduras” or “Post of Honduras.” The stamp celebrates Red Cross nurses and the care they have for their patients. The design for the stamp has gone through numerous designs but this stamp was released in 1999.

Another stamp features Ramón Valle, a Honduran olympian from the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Valle went to the Olympics in 1996 to represent Honduras in men’s swimming. “Translating” these stamps allows us insight into the perception of Honduras. First, the country values its medical care to those in need. Next, a successful Olympian is a symbol of Honduras and represents their country abroad and at home. Since Valle did not represent Honduras in 2000, but rather, represented the country in 1996, the stamp was possibly produced to encourage the country’s interest and support in the Olympic games. This is supported by the fact the stamp was produced on September 13, 2000 and the Olympic opening ceremony was on September 15, 2000.

All of these stamps share insight into the countries and regions they represent. While some PCVs didn’t notice which stamp they sent their mail home with, other stamp collectors reveal at the significance each stamp offers.

 

For more information, please visit the Peace Corps Community Archive website. To use the collections or make a donation, please contact the AU Archives at archives [at] american.edu.

Timing their Training: Scheduling Peace Corps Volunteers’ Training

Before leaving for a foreign country, Peace Corps Volunteers in the 1960s were required to complete intensive training to help prepare them for their experiences abroad. This training occurred at universities all over the United States. They learned a variety of tasks ranging from agriculture and livestock care to language studies. Each PCVs’ training varied by where they attended training, their service type, and other factors.

Peace Corps Volunteers all received informational packets on their training, much like this one from Karen Keefer who trained at Columbia University for her service in education in Nigeria.

Peace Corps Volunteers all received informational packets on their training, much like this one from Karen Keefer who trained at Columbia University for her service in education in Nigeria.

 

One of the earlier PCVs is Thomas Hebert, who trained at University of California, Los Angeles in June of 1962. Herbert served in Nigeria from 1962 to 1964 educating youth and managing the University of Ibadan’s Shakespeare Traveling Theatre program. Hebert spent a total of 419 hours training for his service in Africa. The bulk of his training program was an orientation on Africa and Nigeria, totaling 92 hours, where he learned how to effectively communicate and understand the culture he would be serving in. Interestingly enough, Hebert also had a total of 81 hours of training in American Civilization and Institutions, which would “[enable] the volunteers to see political events more perceptively, to view the interchange of political interests more realistically, and to articulate democratic values more convincingly,” according to the training informational packet.

Hebert also spent 60 hours learning educational practices for Nigeria, in order to understand how to effectively reach his students abroad. He also had 55 hours of training in the languages of Hausa, Ibo, and Yoruba, the three major indigenous languages of Nigeria. In addition to his practical training, Hebert also spent 43 hours on health training and 56 hours in physical education. The Peace Corps emphasized the importance of each PCV’s health during their service. Lastly, he also spent 32 hours on “Special Features,” which ranged from lectures to documentaries.

Winifred Boge attended training at University of California, Davis from February to May 1965. The program totaled 720 hours of work over a 12-week period, resulting in an average of 60 hours per week. Boge served on the Health Nutrition Project in India, but her training also covered a variety of topics to assist with her transition into life in a different country.

 

As part of her training at UC Davis, Winifred Boge learned agricultural techniques.

As part of her training at UC Davis, Winifred Boge learned agricultural techniques.

 

For Boge, the most time was spent on language training, with a total of 300 hours on learning Telugu. Next, she focused on technical studies on health and nutrition, for a total of 200 hours. Following this, she also learned area studies and world affairs for 105 hours in order to understand the history and culture of her place of service. Also required for training was physical education as well as health and hygiene to ensure the health of every PCV.

One of the more interesting areas of study is the topic of Communism for 15 hours total. While each area of study in the information packet includes a description and list of teachers, Communism lacks this information. Even though the Red Scare of the 1950s had passed, the Peace Corps probably wanted to prepare their PCVs for different types of government in the world.

 

Many Volunteers enjoyed their training because it gave them a chance to get to know fellow PCVs. Pictured here by Boge, PCVs interact during their training at UC Davis.

Many Volunteers enjoyed their training because it gave them a chance to get to know fellow PCVs. Pictured here by Boge, PCVs interact during their training at UC Davis.

 

Peggy Gleeson Wyllie trained at Brooklyn College from 1963-1964 for her time as a nurse in Colombia. She spent most of her time–a total of 360 hours–in intensive language studies in Spanish. Not surprisingly, the second highest element of training at 106 hours was technical studies, along with 30 hours of health education. Technical studies included techniques in Nursing as well as the prevention and treatment of diseases found in Colombia. Wyllie also spent 72 hours learning the history and culture of Colombia, as well as 60 hours studying American studies, world affairs, and Communism. Like Boge, Wyllie learned “critical appraisal of the developing concepts and organizational challenges of the Communist world.” Lastly, she attended classes in physical training for 72 hours and a general “Peace Corps Orientation” for 20 hours.

 

After completion of their training, many PCVs received a certificate like this one. Steve Bossi completed his training in conducting Science Workshops in India from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

After completion of their training, many PCVs received a certificate like this one. Steve Bossi completed his training in conducting Science Workshops in India from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

 

Each training session, no matter how different in terms of location of training, location of service, or service type, served to best prepare each PCV for the challenges and successes they experienced during their service. Training takes into account the culture and society each PCV is entering in order to provide guidance for the most effective approaches to help both the Volunteer and community alike.  

“The PC Nepal Photo Project 1962-1975”

Many Returned Peace Corp Volunteers recognize the value in preserving their experiences. Currently, the Peace Corps Community Archive has over 50 donors, but other volunteers, like Doug and Kate Hall, have created their own related collections.

Doug and Kate served in the Peace Corps from 1968 – 1969  and were stationed in Kathmandu, Nepal. They met during their Peace Corps training and were married in 1972, after their Peace Corps service. In the last few years, they have pushed for a collective effort from Nepal’s volunteers to digitize and catalog photographs taken between the years 1962 – 1975. Titled the PC Nepal Photo Project 1962-1975, the collection currently has over 90 contributors and 12,500 photographs.

According to Doug, the project does not emphasize the Peace Corps experience, but rather focuses on life in Nepal from 1962 – 1975. Specially, the images highlight Nepali life outside the Kathmandu Valley.

While libraries and archives in Kathmandu have photos from the 1930s, these are almost exclusively from the Kathmandu Valley. Peace Corps volunteers were mostly posted in towns and villages where no Nepali had a camera. Thus, these early photos are among the first ever taken in many regions of the country.

The photograph’s being collected represent a range of Nepali life. They span regions and lifestyles, from agriculture and rural schools to coronations and urban architecture.

In addition to the online collection which uses Adobe Lightroom, Hall has created a Facebook page that highlights the images by theme. Both are fantastic resources for researchers. Hall reports that once the project is complete he will share copies with 3 national libraries and archives in Nepal.

To donate to the PC Nepal Photo Project 1962-1975 please contact Doug Hall, doughalln [at] comcast.net.

Date: 1971 Location: Shani-Arjun, Jhapa Description: A rural scene in Parakhopi. The man is an Indian sadhu.

John Hughes submission
Date: 1971
Location: Shani-Arjun, Jhapa
Description: A rural scene in Parakhopi. The man is an Indian sadhu.

Date: 1967 Location: Gulmi Description: A wedding party. The sounds of the band echo across the valleys and can be heard for miles.

Carl Hosticka submission
Date: 1967
Location: Gulmi
Description: A wedding party. The sounds of the band echo across the valleys and can be heard for miles.

Date: 1966-07-14 Location: Majhuwa, Gulmi Description: One of a series of pictures depicting rice cultivation. The field is partially flooded and the plowing is continued.

Carl Hosticka submission
Date: 1966-07-14
Location: Majhuwa, Gulmi
Description: One of a series of pictures depicting rice cultivation.The field is partially flooded and the plowing is continued.

Date: 1964-1965 Location: Baglung, Baglung Description: Women wash themselves and clothing in the sacred waters of the Kali Gandak as part of the Dashain festival.

David Carlson submission
Date: 1964-1965
Location: Baglung, Baglung
Description: Women wash themselves and clothing in the sacred waters of the Kali Gandak as part of the Dashain festival.

Date: 1964 Location: Kathmandu, Kathmandu Description: Tibetans hand-weaving rugs.

Diane Wishinski submission
Date: 1964
Location: Kathmandu, Kathmandu
Description: Tibetans hand-weaving rugs.

7

Bill Hacker submission
Date, Location, and Description unknown

Date: 1968 Location: Baglung, Baglung Description: Women cross a crude suspension bridge across the Kali Gandaki River, near Baglung, with heavy loads of firewood.

Hank Lacy submission
Date: 1968
Location: Baglung, Baglung
Description: Women cross a crude suspension bridge across the Kali Gandaki River, near Baglung, with heavy loads of firewood.

Date: 1972 Location: Kathmandu, Kathmandu Description: Gaun Panchayat banner at a holiday event

Bob Nichols submission
Date: 1972
Location: Kathmandu, Kathmandu
Description: Gaun Panchayat banner at a holiday event

Date: 1968-04 Location: Solukhumbu Description: Girl in field. Picture may be at the Lukla airstrip. Rock fence row in the background.

Bob Nichols submission
Date: 1968-04
Location: Solukhumbu
Description: Girl in field. Picture may be at the Lukla airstrip. Rock fence row in the background.

Date: 1973 Location: Bhaktapur, Bhaktapur Description: Red peppers spread out to dry on mats in a street

Jim Coleman submission
Date: 1973
Location: Bhaktapur, Bhaktapur
Description: Red peppers spread out to dry on mats in a street

Date: 1964-01 Location: Pokhara, Kaski Description: Residents of Pokhara and nearby villages coming to the Seti Gandaki at Ram Ghat for ritual bathing during the Magh Mela. This view is from the east side looking west at the point where the Seti Gandaki emerges from a deep gorge and widens out (Ram Ghat).

Stu Ullmann submission
Date: 1964-01
Location: Pokhara, Kaski
Description: Residents of Pokhara and nearby villages coming to the Seti Gandaki at Ram Ghat for ritual bathing during the Magh Mela. This view is from the east side looking west at the point where the Seti Gandaki emerges from a deep gorge and widens out (Ram Ghat).

Date: 1978-12 Location: Sindhuli Description: Porters carrying empty kerosene cans in the riverbed of the Sun Koshi.

Mike Gill and Barbara Butterworth submission
Date: 1978-12
Location: Sindhuli
Description: Porters carrying empty kerosene cans in the riverbed of the Sun Koshi.

Date: 1969-1971 Location: Siraha Description: Group of women pressing and flattening marijuana (ganja). Ganja was the most important cash crop in the district. The price of finished ganja was 12 rupees per kilo in the local market. By the time it hit Europe, it was $120/kilo and had been cut.

Gerard Oicles submission
Date: 1969-1971
Location: Siraha
Description: Group of women pressing and flattening marijuana (ganja). Ganja was the most important cash crop in the district. The price of finished ganja was 12 rupees per kilo in the local market. By the time it hit Europe, it was $120/kilo and had been cut.

Date: 1975-02 Location: Kathmandu, Kathmandu Description: Preparations for the coronation of King Birendra.

Rick Pfau submission
Date: 1975-02
Location: Kathmandu, Kathmandu
Description: Preparations for the coronation of King Birendra.

Date: 1964-05 Location: Bhojpur, Bhojpur Description: Gold and silversmiths sell gold ear and noserings, silver wrist and anklets. Clearly, paper money was much used at this time, though notice the necklace of old Indian rupees that was still a staple of women's clothing, showing off to the community women's value.

Larry Daloz submission
Date: 1964-05
Location: Bhojpur, Bhojpur
Description: Gold and silversmiths sell gold ear and noserings, silver wrist and anklets. Clearly, paper money was much used at this time, though notice the necklace of old Indian rupees that was still a staple of women’s clothing, showing off to the community women’s value.

Bobbe Seibert in Honduras

Bobbe Seibert

Country of Service: Honduras
Service Project Title: Hillside Farming Extension
Dates in Service: 2000
Keywords: Agriculture, Business, Community Development

Accession Date: July 29, 2015
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 0.5 linear feet

Document Types

    • Correspondence
    • Photographs
    • Reports
    • Diaries
    • Training Materials
    • Artwork
    • Memorabilia

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.