Peace Corps Volunteers often return home with a range of documents and mementos that chronicle their individual abroad experiences. A collection at the Kennedy Library in Boston compiles these materials in an effort to record the broader history of the Peace Corps through the words and stories of individual volunteers. The collection is central to the Third Goal of the Peace Corps - to "bring the world back home," as it allows the documents of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to be accessed by the public and used to educate Americans about the rest of the world in a positive light.
The collection came to fruition through the efforts of John Coyne (Ethiopia 62-64) and a panel of RPCVs looking to find a home for the vast array of Peace Corps writings. Coyne, an author himself, is also the editor of www.peacecorpswriters.org, and a leading figure in the effort to bring together the stories of Peace Corps Volunteers. The collection fittingly landed at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Current curator of the Peace Corps Collection, Jamie Quaglino, noted "the mission of the [library] is to collect material that documents the life and times of President John F. Kennedy. The Peace Corps Collection documents the efforts of a program that began during Kennedy's administration, yet still continues today."
The current Peace Corps Collection has two major components - the Personal Papers and Oral Histories of RPCVs. The Personal Papers collection, established nearly 25 years ago, includes letters home from Volunteers, memos and training guides, newspaper articles about volunteer efforts, postcards, photographs, scrapbooks, and PCV memoirs. The more recent Oral Histories collection consists primarily of audiotapes which have been compiled by trained interviewers and can be listened to at the library. Both components work to weave together a broader history of the Peace Corps through the words of those who served.
The collection is dependent on the donation of material by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Click here to read an interview with Jamie Quaglino and learn how you can donate documents and help construct a public Peace Corps history.