The quick, sloping cursive handwriting fills the computer screen. It reads, “Spam, Spam, Spam. All I dream about is Spam.”
These words from an anonymous soldier during World War II were captured in a survey conducted by the Army Research Branch of the U.S. War Department. The soldier’s questionnaire response is one of 65,000 included in The American Soldier in World War II, a digital project that recently received a $350,000 implementation grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“What’s great about these sources is they’re uncensored,” said Edward Gitre, the Virginia Tech assistant professor of history who is leading the project. “The soldiers answered the surveys during the war while they were serving — in uniform and in combat.”
Gitre and his students, along with those of Bradley Nichols, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of History, and other participating universities — are transcribing the documents, which are part of the National Archives collections. The goal is to make the surveys available to scholars and the public.