The oral history project was initiated in 1999 by Robert Klein (Ghana I, 1961-1963) when Peace Corps celebrated its 35th anniversary in an effort to capture the individual experiences of every volunteer who trained and served in Ghana I. He noted that several volunteers in Ghana I had died and taken their precious stories with them. He realized that pieces of Peace Corps history were disappearing. Working with archivists at JFK Presidential Library, Klein developed the protocol for oral history interviewing.
The in-depth interview includes a discussion of the volunteer’s life before Peace Corps, Peace Corps training, the experience of serving as a volunteer in-country, and reflections on the impact Peace Corps service had on the volunteer, the host country and the United States. Interviews average sixty to ninety minutes.
Klein soon discovered the need to expand the project to capture Peace Corps stories from as many countries and eras as possible. He conducted dozens of interviews and over time trained 25 other RPCVs to do the same. Before his death in 2012 he asked his friend Phyllis Noble (Nigeria 1965-1967) to lead the effort, which she tirelessly did until 2017.
Beginning in 2018 the Project is coordinated by a leadership team:
- Amy Amessoudji (Guinea 1995 - 1997), Coordinator
- Harry Bennett (Belize 2002 - 2004)
- Evelyn Ganzglass (Somalia 1966 - 1968)
- Cedar Wolf (Namibia 2006 - 2008, Philippines 2011), Webmaster
- Patricia Wand (Colombia 1963 - 1965)