Category Archives: Digital Media

Wilcox in Dominican Republic Podcast Part 2 – Footprint

In his second year with the Peace Corps, Geer Wilcox changes his approach to development volunteering.  Rather than working directly with the students, he begins to work with the infrastructure of the school, hoping that developing infrastructure will last longer than work in the classroom.  Listen to the podcast below to hear straight from the source his reasoning and to understand how the Dominican Republic changed him, in return.

Music in this audio production was written by Kevin MacLeod.  The tracks used are “Notanico Merengue,” “Hackbeat,” and “Laid Back Guitars.”  To play the podcast, click to the far left of the black media bar.

With this, the 2018-2019 “season” has come to an end.  It has been an incredible experience to be the PCCA Fellow this year and to work with these collections and stories.  I want to thank several people, without whom I would not have been able to fulfill this role.  First, I want to thank Leslie Nellis.  As my mentor, she taught me everything I know about archives, and as my friend, she made this office an incredible place to work throughout my master’s program. I am grateful to her interest in and support of making the most of my fellowship this year.  It was with her help that I traveled to Morgantown, WV to present at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, by her suggestion that I curated exhibits for our hallway, and with her blessing that the blog has become as multi-media as it has.  I would also like to thank Dan Kerr and Trevor Owens who taught me the research and project-oriented history methods I utilized this spring semester.  Online exhibits and podcasts  wouldn’t have been possible if it had not been for them.  I am eternally grateful to the donors who shared their experiences with the PCCA and who allowed their materials and stories to be shared through our online media. Finally, I would like to thank you, dear readers, for coming with me all this way.

Gail Wadsworth in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania

Country of Service: Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania
Service Type: Secondary Education, Librarian
Dates in Service: 1970-1972, 1973-1976, 1980-1982
Keywords: Education, Libraries

Accession Date: March 9, 2018
Access: No restrictions.
Collection Size: 4.0 linear feet

Document Types

Official Paperwork
Training Materials
Travel brochures, maps, postcards

Official Paperwork
Travel brochures, postcards

Official Paperwork
Travel postcards

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.


What We Collected in 2017

The Peace Corp Community Archive accepts many types of records of volunteers from every decade, every country of service, and every type of service job. Though we did not accept donations for part of 2017, we added 6 unique collections to the archives that include a wide range of Peace Corps experiences. We featured some of these collections in previous posts but here you can learn about them in detail.


Phillip L. Scholl

Phillip served in India from 1965-1967 in Health Education. India faced many health crises in the 1960s and its government requested help from the Peace Corps. Philip’s group, India 20A, received training in public health and assisted India’s Primary Health Centers, which provided health care services throughout the country. Phillip donated a video about his travels through India.

You can watch the video here: India 20A Video
Visit the groups website here: India 20A Website
And see a previous highlight post about this collection here: India 20A Post


Jan and Leslie Czechowski

Jan and Leslie decided to volunteer after they retired at the age of 64 and are two of the oldest volunteers in the collection. They donated a booklet that contains, in chronological order, their blog posts and emails from their service. The couple served in Moldova in 2012 in Community Development. Leslie’s main job was helping with the Global Libraries project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They enjoyed their time in Moldova immensely but had to cut their service short because Leslie became ill. A number of Peace Corps Volunteers end their service early for a variety of reasons.

Jan and Leslie – June 22, 2012

Friday, August 3rd, 2012 – Sworn in as Peace Corps Volunteers


Delwyn and Claire Ziegler

Delwyn and Claire, with their two daughters, were among the first Peace Corps Volunteer Families. They served in Colombia from 1970-1972 in Community Development and Education. They donated a manual entitled, “Guide to Small Business Consultation,” which was compiled by Delwyn, and a 500+ page diary consisting of correspondence, notes, daily updates, and other writings from their service. The Ziegler’s were one of only two families that stayed the full two years and said “it was the best two years of our lives.” The Peace Corps discontinued the families program after a few years.

You can find their diary here: Diary of the Zieglers in Colombia


Lynda Smith-Nehr

Lynda served in the Philippines from 1962-1964 in Education. Her collection consists of the many slides she took during her service. The slides show pictures of the villages she worked in, the people she worked with, and the places she traveled. Lynda experienced a lot during her service.

April 1963 – My Junior Class – Mt. Apo

Davao Mt. Apo School – April 1963


Thomas J. Hassett

Thomas served in Nepal from 1965-1966 in Community Development. His fellow volunteers described him as easy to get along with and perfect for the Peace Corps. However, Thomas’s time in the Peace Corps was cut short by an unfortunate fall on his way to visit a friend. At the age of 22 Thomas passed away and was buried in Nepal. Included in his collection are letters to and from his family and friends, condolence letters to his parents, and photos of his work and burial service. Tom’s parents paid for a memorial for him and visited his grave in 1966.

“Thomas J. Hassett, Russian novelist phase – June 1966”

“L to R: ?? Sam Myqatt (partially hidden) by another in front of Bill Hanson. Blond is Cail Hoshicka. Father Moran, Minister.”

Tina Singleton

Tina served in the Central African Republic and Benin from 1992-1996. She worked in Health Education with a focus on Benin’s disabled community. She traveled to the first African Special Olympics in 1992. Tina enjoyed her time so much she stayed twice as long as a normal service tour. Tina’s collection itself consists of numerous letters to her family and many (many) photos that illustrate her time in Africa.

Tina’s school class, she is second from the left.

1992 – First African Special Olympics


As you can see from just this small group of collections, a Peace Corps Volunteer’s experience can vary greatly. Every year new collections are donated to the Peace Corps Community Archive that add to these stories.

Listen to Letters: The Experience of a Blind PCV

While Peace Corps Volunteers are abroad, they send many letters home to their family and friends. They receive and send letters, packages, and postcards, and sometimes audiotapes.

Geer Wilcox served in the Dominican Republic from 1963-1965 and taught Blind Education. For two years, at the National School for the Blind, he taught boys how to walk with canes, carpentry, and worked on several other projects. To correspond with his family, Geer and his parents would record their letters because he himself is blind.

The following is a handful of recordings that Geer sent his parents to narrate his time in the Peace Corps.

(In total, it takes about 20 minutes to listen to the recordings and the play button is on the far left of the media bars.) A transcript of  the recordings can be found here: Geer’s Transcript.


Geer trained in Seattle, and arrived in Santo Domingo in October of 1963. He lived and worked at the National School for the Blind, which he describes here.

(In the first clip, Geer describes how long the school has been open and how many students have graduated, and in the second he describes the space problems and layout of the school.)


A few months into Geer’s service, President Kennedy was assassinated. These are his reactions.

(Geer admits that he will miss President Kennedy, and he does not know how anyone else will do as good a job as he did.)


Geer had two main teaching responsibilities while at the school. Cane travel, which he considered important but frustrating.

(Geer talks about how capable his students are, but then he also discusses his frustrations with how difficult some of his students find it to learn cane travel.)


And carpentry, which he believes his students could turn into a marketable skill.

(Geer very much looks forward to teaching carpentry, but the school lacks tools and he lacks carpentry skills, however in the second clip he mentions that they get a commission to make crutches.)


Beyond the school, the blind community in the city in general was just as important to Geer. In fact, he learned a lot from UN involvement in institutions around the country  and he even helped a local group begin a campaign for a rehabilitation center.

(In the first clip, Geer talks about suggestions that the UN makes, and in the second he discusses supporting the beginnings of a society that will create a rehabilitation center.)


He also gained the school a bit of notoriety by attending a dinner with the Rotary Club where he talked about rehabilitation and Geer even appeared on TV demonstrating cane travel.

(Geer discusses the Rotary Club dinner in the first clip, and describes his TV appearance in the second.)


Six months into his service, Geer had already accomplished so much. He had become strongly aware of how blind people were handled by the community and the effect this would have on his students. But he was still preparing them for graduation and helping them find their place in the world.

(The first clip details interactions Geer had with the community and how they treated him as a blind person, and the second is about graduation for his students.)


While this is simply a snippet of Geer’s life and work in the Dominican Republic, it still shows the impact he had on the community and his students.

(In this clip a student speaks to Geer’s parents and expresses his appreciation for everything Geer has taught him.)

Thomas J. Hassett in Nepal

Country of Service: Nepal
Service Type: Community Development
Dates in Service: 1965-1966
Keywords: Gorkha, Memorial service

Accession Date: October 16, 2017
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 1.0 linear foot

Document Types: 

  • Correspondence (includes condolence letters to parents)
  • Photographs
  • Audiotape
  • Training booklet & certificate

John Greven & Cliff Witt in Colombia

John Greven & Cliff Witt

Country of Service: Colombia
Service Type: Community Development
Dates in Service: 1966-1968
Keywords: Friends of Colombia, Documentary

Accession Date: October 12, 2017
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: two linear feet

Document Types

Documentary videos (digital)

  • Film for Action: Construyamos una escuela
  • Film for Action: Piedras como esta
  • Film for Action: Tendremos mas que puentes
  • Film for Action: Un canto a mi tierra
  • Publication

Leonard Lyon in Nigeria

Leonard Lyon

Country of Service: Nigeria
Place of Service: Igarra via Auchi
Service Type: Education at St. Paul’s Anglican Grammar School
Dates in Service: 1964-1965
Keywords: Education, Youth

Accession Date: July 1, 2011; Friends of Nigeria Archive
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 1 CD

Document Types

  • Photographs
  • Publications
  • Sound