January 25, 2016

Female veterans sought for service-learning project

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Female military veterans are being sought to participate in a new service-learning history project at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

Students in the kinesiology gender and sport graduate course taught by Bobbi Knapp, associate professor of kinesiology, are studying the role of gender in the military experience. They will learn about the history of women in the military and the military’s masculine social structure. They will also explore the role of sport and physical activity in women’s military experiences. 

The students will read about and study the various topics but Knapp said the most important and exciting part of the project involves the students conducting oral history interviews with local female veterans. The class is now looking for women who are willing to tell of their military experiences. 

Knapp has partnered with the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation so all recorded interviews and transcripts from the project will be housed in the foundation’s archives. The interviews will also be incorporated into the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project. In addition, Knapp will be using the interview materials for her research project about the role physical activity and sport play in female veterans’ military experiences. 

Knapp said the students are interested in interviewing all area women who have served or are serving in the U.S. military, whether active duty, reserves, or National Guard. They would also like to talk to women from military auxiliary organizations, such as the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) from the World War II era. 

Although Knapp said she and her students would welcome the opportunity to conduct face-to-face interviews on campus or at the Carbondale Public Library or another public location more convenient for a veteran, they can also do the interviews via telephone. The interviews will take one or two hours to complete and the veterans will also need to complete four documents: an SIU research project consent form, a biographical data form, a registration form and an informed consent form required by the Women’s Memorial Foundation. Knapp will send the forms to participants in advance so they can be completed prior to the interviews. 

The Female Veterans’ Oral History Project will be ongoing throughout the spring 2016 semester. The interviews will begin about mid-February and continue into March and April. Knapp, who was chosen as an SIU service-learning fellow for the 2015-2016 school year, and a research assistant, will continue conducting interviews until September 2016. 

To learn more about the female veterans project or sign up to participate, contact Knapp at bknapp@siu.edu or by calling 618/453-3324.