» Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to frequently asked questions about the Center for American War Letters by clicking and opening the regions below.

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1. What types of letters are you looking for?

Quite simply, any type of correspondence related to war or life in the military. We are interested in everything from letters about boot camp and basic training to descriptions of being under fire, and even correspondences written by veterans long after a conflict is over, reflecting on their wartime experience. Previous donors have sent us letters on a variety of topics, including: love, humor, faith, death, homesickness, grief, anger, courage, peace, humanity, resilience, camaraderie, reconciliation, patriotism, historical events, and many other related subjects. We are also interested in letters from the home front. The spouses, children, parents, siblings, and other loved ones of troops make enormous sacrifices, too, and their stories and voices should be preserved as well.

2. Is the Center only interested in original letters, or are photocopies, transcripts, or scans acceptable?

We encourage donors to send in the original letter(s) for several reasons. First, scholars prefer original documents because they can better authenticate the material, and they often discover additional information about a letter based on the paper, itself, and any embellishments. Also, we intend to use many of these letters in exhibits and various media, and originals resonate more profoundly with a general audience. People like to see the actual letter and not a copy. However, we do accept photocopies, scans, and transcripts of correspondences.

3. Is the Center interested in war-related emails?

Yes. Even though we do emphasize the importance of handwritten or typed letters, we recognize that many troops and their loved ones correspond through email, and these are a valuable part of the historical record. If you have war-related emails to share, they can be forwarded directly to: warletters@chapman.edu or print-outs can be mailed to our address below.

4. Is the Center interested in photographs, medals, journals, and other memorabilia besides letters?

Letters and emails are what the Center is most focused on preserving, but if a donor has correspondence to give us, we also welcome pictures, citations of service, awards, and any other material that will provide more information about the letter and the person who wrote it. We are interested in diaries and journals as well because some letter-writers might not have been able to express themselves freely in their correspondences, but they did so in their journals and diaries.

5. Is the Center only interested in American letters?

Our priority is the American wartime experience, and the vast majority of the letters and emails in the Center’s collection are written by Americans. However, the Center also accepts extraordinary letters by foreign troops that relate to American conflicts.

6. Is the Center interested in “audio” letters?

Yes. During some wars, troops had the opportunity to have their voices recorded for friends and loved ones on records or tapes or on video. We welcome these forms of communication.

7. After donating correspondence, can I still use the letter(s) for my own purposes, such as in a book or a movie?

Donors are offered several options. If donors so choose, they can give the Center the full copyright, or they can hold onto the copyright but grant the Center permission to publish and use the material in various media. (And in some instances, the donors might not have the copyright to give but can still donate the correspondence.) For any questions about this, please don’t hesitate to contact us directly: warletters@chapman.edu

8. Does the Center purchase letters?

The Center does not, under any circumstances, buy or sell letters. All of the correspondences given to the Center have been donated freely, and we are extremely grateful to the donors for their generosity. In some cases, individuals and institutions have bought letters and then donated them to the Center, but the Center will not reimburse donors for this. Also, we cannot appraise a letter for tax or any other financial-related purposes.

9. I don’t have any war letters or emails to donate, but is there any other way I can assist with this effort to save America’s war letters?

Aside from making a financial contribution, which would be greatly appreciated, one of the most important ways that people can help us is by simply spreading the word about this initiative to veterans and troops or others who might have wartime correspondences. In addition, we also need individuals who can help us transcribe letters or translate them if they’re written in a foreign language. And, as the Center’s director, Andrew Carroll, travels the country to talk about this effort, we are looking for venues (schools, museums, historical societies, veterans halls, places of worship, YPOs/WPOs, etc.) to host him. If you’d like to help in some capacity, please contact us directly at: warletters@chapman.edu.

10. What is the Center’s history, mission, and overall vision?

In 1998, the historian Andrew Carroll launched “The Legacy Project” to encourage people throughout the U.S. to preserve wartime correspondences as a way of remembering the men and women who have served this country. Thanks to wide exposure in the media about this effort, Americans have shared with Andy an estimated 100,000 previously unpublished letters and emails from every conflict in our nation’s history. Andy has donated the Legacy Project’s collection to Chapman University, and renamed this project the “Center for American War Letters.” Carroll is serving as the Center’s Founding Director, and the Center will continue to seek out and preserve these correspondences for this generation and those to come. The mission of the Center for American War Letters is to compile, preserve, protect, and provide access to the letters in the War Letters Archive and other materials from all American military conflicts. The vision of the Center for American War Letters is to become the nation’s largest and most preeminent archive of personal wartime correspondences

11. How do I contact the Center for American War Letters?

By Mail:
Center for American War Letters Archives
Chapman University
One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866

By Phone:
Andrew Harman, Archivist
(714) 532-7716

By Email:

For Speaking Engagements or Press:
Center for American War Letters
Andrew Carroll, Director

12. How do I donate?

Fill out the donation form and send it to warletters@chapman.edu.