Category Archives: News

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

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.

Exhibits on Display: The Peace Corps and its Volunteers


Alongside the annual conference of the National Peace Corps Association held in Washington, D.C. in September 2016, AU Archives and Special Collections is debuting two exhibits highlighting its Peace Corps Community Archive. One exhibit will be a physical exhibit on campus and the other online.

The Peace Corps through the Lens of its Volunteers will be on display through the end of the semester on the third floor of the Bender Library.

PCCA Exhibit Screenshot

The Peace Corps and Its Volunteers, the online companion exhibit, will go live this Friday August 26.

Both exhibits draw from the Peace Corps Community Archive and showcase the experiences of Peace Corp Volunteers through journals, letters, and photographs from the 1960s to the present.

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 University Celebrates Peace Corps Week

In celebration of Peace Corps Week, on Tuesday, March 2, American University hosted Peace Corps recruiter Chuck Cascio and more than 10 Returned Peace Corps volunteers, many of them American University students and alumni. Along with the opportunity to talk with Peace Corps volunteers, the event included displays of photos and objects related each RPCV’s service. These RPCVs shared their Peace Corps experiences, demonstrating how they each made a difference in their respective communities.

Last month, the Peace Corps ranked American University as one of the top medium-sized colleges and universities producing Peace Corps volunteers. As shown by Tuesday’s event, American University will continue its already strong relationship with Peace Corps service.

RPCV Lauren Kovach (Zambia, 2012-2014) and Rachel Teter (Panama, 2011-2013) inform American University students about the merits of Peace Corps service.

RPCV Lauren Kovach (Zambia, 2012-2014); left, and Rachel Teter (Panama, 2011-2013) ; right. inform American University students about the merits of Peace Corps service.

Happy Birthday, Peace Corps!

On March 1, 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps. 54 years later, the Peace Corps still reflects its original mission to “promote world peace and friendship.”

This year’s celebration of Peace Corps Week includes the video challenge, “Host Country Heroes: Who do you wish Americans knew from your Peace Corps country?”, digital “video chats” with Peace Corps Volunteers serving around the world, and multiple Peace Corps “festivals” and information sessions taking place throughout the country.

The Peace Corps Community Archive reflects the variety of contributions and experiences of 54 years of Peace Corps service. From training materials and community development reports, to photographs and correspondence, our collection helps document the 54 years of continued international service of the Peace Corps.

The photos from our collection below, feature Peace Corps volunteers in action.

PC Boge- Rose Ann Crimmins edit

Winifred Boge served in India from 1965-1967.










22. This is our boat that will take us up the river on our spray mission. These boats are flat-bottomed, with automobile engines mounted on long propeller shafts.

Jonathan Green served in Thailand from 1973-1975.



Randall Children 2002

Alanna Randall served in Belize from 2001-2003.











Peace Corps Director Visits the Peace Corps Community Archive

Left to right; RPCV Pat Wand, University Archivist Susan McElrath, and Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Raadelet.

Left to right; RPCV (Colombia, 1963-1965) and Emerita University Librarian Patricia Wand, University Archivist Susan McElrath, and Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Raadelet.

On January 13, Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet spoke at American University’s School of International Service. Her conversation focused on the merits of Peace Corps service. Before her talk, Hessler-Radelet visited the Peace Corps Community Archive.

Hessler-Radelet is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer herself. She served in Western Samoa from 1981-1983. During her visit, Hessler-Radelet viewed highlights and representative items of our collection. Our display included materials from the 1960s-2000s.  This included letters, photographs, newspapers, training materials, and reports. Items from South America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East showed the geographical variety of our collection.

University Archivist Susan McElrath shows Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet items from the Peace Corps Community Archive.

University Archivist Susan McElrath shows Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet items from the Peace Corps Community Archive.

Besides her own Peace Corps service, Hessler-Radelet’s aunt, Ginny Kirkwood, served with individuals represented in our collection. Kirkwood served with Ed and Karen De Antoni in Turkey (1964-1966). She took pictures of their materials on display for her aunt.

Click here to listen to Hessler-Radelet’s conversation with James Goldeier, Dean of American University’s School of International Service.

Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet recognizes Karen and Ed De Antoni, two PCVs who served with her aunt in Turkey during the 1960s.

Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet recognizes Karen and Ed De Antoni, two PCVs who served with her aunt in Turkey during the 1960s.

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Northeastern New York

RPCV Northeastern New York
Date of Materials: 1986-2004

Accession Date: October 9, 2014
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 0.5 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Membership lists
  • Minutes
  • Newsletters
  • Newsletters from other RPCV groups

Visualizing Our Collections

From a quick look at our Peace Corps catalog, it becomes apparent that many of our collections are of those who served during the 1960s. To what extent however, are the other decades in which people served represented? The graph below presents our collections in a visual format, indicating trends in Peace Corps activity expressed through our holdings. (Note: Each year corresponds to each Peace Corps volunteer’s year of entry into the two-year program)


Peace Corps Week 2014

This week marks the Peace Corps’ 53rd birthday.  The annual event commemorates the organization’s accomplishments at home and abroad, while also encouraging Peace Corps community members to renew their commitment to service.  

Whether returned or currently serving, the Peace Corps charges volunteers to increase cultural awareness by sharing their personal experiences and first-hand knowledge with other Americans.  This mission is fulfills the Peace Corps’ Third Goal, which seeks to promote peace through awareness and understanding of the diverse cultures around the world.

You can find more information about events in Peace Corps history by exploring the Interactive Timeline.

Peace Corps Community Archives’ Milestones

The Peace Corps Community Archives (PCCA) began at American University in spring 2013.  During its short existence, more than 12 collections have been added to the Archive.

Included below are a few fun statistics about what you can find in our PCCA collections (Note: Numbers refer to number of individual collections.).

17 Men, 10 Female

A few of the collections document the work of volunteers who served with their spouse.  Most volunteers, however, entered as single, young adults.

Most Common Types of work:

  • education
  • health and sanitation
  • community development

Countries where Volunteers Served:

Colombia- 11
Nigeria- 5
Philippines- 2
India- 2
Paraguay- 1
Belize- 1
Thailand- 1
Fiji- 1
Afghanistan- 1
Antigua- 1
Ukraine- 1
Suriname- 1

Decade of Service:

1960s- 21
1970s- 4
1980s- 0
1990s- 0
2000s- 2
2010s- 1

We are excited about the diverse and interesting collections currently available for the public to use, but we would also love your help to keep the Archive growing.  We are always looking for collections to add to the PCCA.  If you can help fill in the gaps, or are interested in finding a home for your collection of Peace Corps materials, please contact us by email at or by phone (202) 885-3256.