Category Archives: Archives Updates

Stephanie Weise in Ecuador

Country of Service: Ecuador
Dates in Service: 1984-1986
Keywords: Agriculture, Architecture, Community Development, Environment, Urban Planning

Accession Date: April 16, 2021
Access: no restrictions
Collection Size: .25 linear feet

Document Types

  • Photographs

Answering the Call: Exhibiting at the Kennedy Center’s REACH Opening Festival

What did you do last month? Associate archivist Leslie Nellis, American University library consultant Robert Newlen, and I took the archives on the road for the opening festival at the REACH building of the Kennedy Center. The event was a collaboration between the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, DC (RCPV/W), and the REACH.

The PCCA exhibit features several posters on easels behind a blue table with seven more documents, two binders, and an IPad. A woman stands in front of the exhibit. Robert Newlen and Leslie Nellis stand behind the exhibit to answer questions.

Robert Newlen (left) and Leslie Nellis (right) speak with visitors about the Archives, September 22, 2019

In a room known the Peace Corps Place, PCCA launched “Answering the Call” –a temporary exhibit highlighting RCPVs experiences using their donated materials. Sixteen other exhibitors joined us, including booths by the Peace Corps Oral History Project and the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience.

We spent the day greeting visitors and describing our efforts to collect, preserve, and make available the materials donated by RPCVs. Close to 300 visitors—many of them RPCVs with their families—flipped through examples from the current collections, listened to Geer Wilcox’s recorded letters sent home, and shared their own memories of their time in the Peace Corps.

Packing lists from the ‘80s spurred conversations between old and new RCPVs about what has changed and what has not. One woman laughed and said “They told me to pack a meat-grinder.” Others snapped photos of President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 letter to volunteers or the poster that read “She taught me how to write my name, I taught her how to say it.”

Merged photo of two women. One holds a signed postcard and the other holds a binder with the same image featured on the postcard.

RCPV woman (left) and Debby Prigal (right) pose with Prigal’s donation.

About halfway through the day, RPCV Debby Prigal discovered her own donated materials within the exhibit and reproduced on free postcards. “That’s me! That’s mine!” She exclaimed, pointing at her entry in the copy of a “Close of Service” Newsletter. For a moment, Debby achieved celebrity status as others asked for her to autograph their postcards.

The entire day was a perfect example of PCCA’s goals to enrich the Archives through partnerships with Peace Corps affiliates, exhibit materials that document the impact of individuals who volunteered, increase the awareness of the history of the Peace Corps, and of course, make some new friends!

If you or someone you know is interested in finding out more about donating to the collection, please visit the “Donate” tab or email us at archives@american.edu.

After the Move

The Peace Corps Community Archives (PCCA) began at American University in the spring of 2013, and by September already had 12 collections. Four years and a move later that number has grown to 69 collections, both from groups and individuals. With these collections come some interesting statistics that you can discover below about how the archive has grown over the years. (Note: Numbers refer to number of individual collections.)

People
*while most volunteers entered as single adults, a few of them served with their spouse

2013: 17 Men, 10 Women

2017: 37 Men, 31 Women, including 5 couples

Most Common Types of Work

2013: Education – Health & Sanitation – Community Development

2017: Education – Community Development – Environment & Health

Decades of Service
The Peace Corps was founded in 1961 and volunteers have been serving ever since, and continue to serve to this day. Every decade since 1961 is represented in our collections.

2013:  21, 1960s – 4, 1970s – 0, 1980s – 0, 1990s – 2, 2000s – 1, 2010s

2017:  42, 1960s – 6, 1970s – 6, 1980s – 1, 1990s – 6, 2000s – 2, 2010s

Where Served
Peace Corps volunteers serve all around the world in 60 different countries. Below is where the volunteers from our collections have served through the years.


Central America

2013: 2     2017: 10
Belize – Dominican Republic – Eastern Caribbean – Haiti – Honduras – Jamaica – Mexico – Panama

 

South America
2013: 13     2017: 20
Bolivia – Chile – Colombia – Paraguay – Peru – Suriname

 

Africa
2013: 5     2017: 19
Ghana – Kenya – Mali – Morocco – Nigeria – Senegal – Sierra Leone – Uganda

 

Eastern Europe/Middle East
2013: 2     2017: 4
Afghanistan – Turkey – Ukraine

 

Asia/Pacific Islands
2013: 6     2017: 8
Fiji – India – Malaysia – Philippines – Thailand

 

The archive has grown quite a bit since 2013, and we are excited about the diversity of the collections that are now available to the public. But we would love to keep growing! We are always looking to add to the PCCA, so if you can fill in the gaps or are interested in finding a home for your collection of Peace Corps materials please contact us.
Email: archives@american.edu     Phone: (202) 885-3256

AU Archives is closed for relocation

AU Archives and Special Collections will be moving to a new location in 2017. We closed on December 9 to prepare for our move. We will not be accepting donations until we reopen in our new location. We will continue to respond to phone calls and email messages as time allows. Feel free to contact us with questions.