Late last week I met with Dr. Tom Ewing, a history professor who works in the administrative office for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech. I heard through the grapevine that Dr. Ewing was working on a number of current projects dealing with World War I in Virginia and at least one project dealing exclusively with Virginia Tech. Remarkably Dr. Ewing also heard about my project and had wanted to talk with me for a few weeks.
The meeting was a fruitful one. After explaining my idea for research and looking at some past work I completed on the project he gave me some valuable tips. First, he pointed me to a number of sources I was unaware of. One of these sources were Military Service Records the state of Virginia asked all returning WWI veterans to complete about their time served. These records, each about four pages long, asked veterans to complete biographical information (names, education, hometowns, occupation, dates entered service, and units) and a series of questions. These questions ranged from asking what engagements veterans were involved in to explaining how their war experience effected them. A second source was a series of six volumes about Virginia’s involvement in the “Great War” that were published soon after the war ended. These books are digitized and available online and can be a valuable primary source in my work, though I need to take it with a grain of salt as well.
Dr. Ewing liked the drive of my current topic and believed it would be fruitful, but also suggested that expanding my view outside of Virginia Tech to encompass more of the Virginia experience could be beneficial. But, as he said, I will have to let the sources and my readings guide me to where I want to go.
Due to his interest in my paper, his interest in World War I, and his current involvement in state World War I projects Dr. Ewing has agreed to become my adviser. Dr. Cline was fine with the change and I still plan to keep Dr. Cline apprised of my progress due to his interest in my paper.