V-Mail: Oral Histories of American War & Shared Meaning

Beginning in June of 1942, the United States Armed Forces used Victory Mail — V-Mail for short — to ease communication between service-members on the battle-fronts and their loved ones on the home-fronts. Through what was at the time advanced technology, handwritten letters were microfilmed, shipped, and then printed and distributed in every theater of WWII.

The technology (originally developed by the Eastman Kodak Company) was practical, and it was efficient: it facilitated censorship and substantially reduced the bulk and weight of letters to be shipped overseas. But it served a fundamental human good as well: V-Mail sped communication between the military population and their civilian loved ones, closing the time gap between news sent and news received. At its best, V-Mail increased the immediacy and authenticity of communication between those in war at those who remained at home.

We have adopted the name, and aspire in the videos that follow to serve something of the same human good, taking advantage of our own time’s technology to foster authentic communication between the military and civilian populations of today.

Battle- ‘n Home-Fronts V-Mail installments each offer a brief interview with a veteran. We do not script, and we do not censor (though we do at times edit for coherence). Some videos may therefore not be appropriate for all audiences.

We ask veterans to discuss Americanism, however they understand it. We ask them to tell us about how they define and understand American ideals and values. And we ask them to share with us their thoughts on the relationship between service and those American ideals.