Texas A&M University-Commerce began collecting oral histories in the early 1970s. Dr. Jim Conrad, the University Archivist, led a group that collected oral histories of Northeast Texans. Many of these included their contributions to the military conflicts of the 20th century. With financial support from the U.S. Library of Congress, Dr. Conrad oversaw the recording of over 900 interviews during a four-decade span, 200 of which were with veterans who served in World War I, World War II, Korea, the Cold War, and/or Vietnam.

When the University’s James Gee Library opened its Northeast Texas Digital Collections during the early 2000s, the archival staff processed these oral history interviews and collected photographs and documents from the veterans they interviewed, creating an “American War Experience” digital collection for each military conflict.  However, due to the large number of interviews, most were left unprocessed.

In the fall of 2011, University professors Dr. Gerald Duchovnay and Dr. Eric Gruver worked with University Archivist Andrea Weddle to incorporate the unprocessed interviews into their courses. The response from the students was overwhelmingly positive… Many of the students expressed the desire to continue working with oral histories after completing the course. In 2013, several students proposed continuing work with oral history by personally conducting interviews with veterans and individuals affected by war and military experience.  With the support of Dr. Eric Gruver and the University Archives, the East Texas War and Memory Project began operations as part of the university Honors College. In the Fall of 2015, the project transitioned into the Texas A&M University-Commerce History Department, where students continue to conduct, transcribe, and interpret oral history interviews as part of the department’s focus on public and applied history.