Since 2014, HAI has provided a range of services to the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC). We have contributed to ABMC’s mission to honor the service, achievements, and sacrifice of the U.S. Armed Forces. We have preserved records and artifacts, uncovered the stories of the men and women who lost their lives fighting overseas, and shared their stories with the public at more than 10 ABMC sites around the world. Detailed personal stories, compelling and insightful exhibit text, and comprehensive collection management plans are just a few of the outcomes of our collaboration.
Exhibit Development & Artifact Acquisition
Our historians collaborated with ABMC to develop visitor center exhibits and interpretive wayside signage for the Normandy American Cemetery, Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, Cambridge American Cemetery, Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery, Flanders Field American Cemetery, and Montfaucon American Monument. In partnership with historians, designers, and multimedia producers, our team provided in-depth historical research, interpretive planning, artifact and image research acquisition, custom map design, and exhibit content development services.
While each site has a unique story, all share a mission to uncover and tell the personal stories of the men and women honored and interred at the sites. HAI delved deep into the historical record to find details about the lives, military service, and sacrifice of individuals, even contacting next of kin to learn more and obtain photographs of their ancestors. “The cemetery always had an extremely powerful emotional component. What was lacking was a story to go with the names written on the headstones,” noted an ABMC official of the Normandy American Cemetery. HAI’s work helped discover and share that essential connection.
“The cemetery always had an extremely powerful emotional component. What was lacking was a story to go with the names written on the headstones.”
– American Battle Monuments Commission
Vanishing Treasures Collections Preservation & Digitization
Beginning in 2018, HAI is providing on-going archival collection services to the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) Overseas Operations Office headquartered in Paris, France through a single-award IDIQ. ABMC’s archival collections contain approximately 250,000 historic documents, drawings, plans, and photographs, and detail the first 95 years of ABMC’s organizational history and are vital to improving agency accountability around its cemetery programs and operations.
HAI is collaborating with the ABMC Collections & Preservation Directorate to provide services to sites throughout the sixteen countries where ABMC-managed cemeteries and monuments exist. HAI is preserving the collections and making critical information accessible to ABMC’s operational, interpretive, and educational programs through a phased approach which includes collection surveys, full-level processing, cataloging, and digitization.
HAI has conducted collections surveys and created processing plans that included recommendations on rehousing, arrangement, consolidated collection storage, and mitigating conservation issues for the following sites:
- Suresnes American Cemetery/Lafayette Escadrille Memorial
- Aisne-Marne American Cemetery
- Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery
- Rhone American Cemetery
- North Africa American Cemetery
- Sicily-Rome American Cemetery
HAI has also processed, cataloged in TMS, and prepared digitization plans for four of the previously-surveyed sites and is currently in the process of digitizing three of these site collections. In addition to this work, HAI created a Cataloging Guide for ABMC’s collections in The Museum System (TMS) that includes controlled vocabularies, taxonomy development, and data entry procedures.
Our archives work is ongoing, expected to conclude in 2023.
Historical Research & Interactive Development
In 2019, ABMC engaged HAI to conduct historical research to support the development of multimedia interactives at the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial Cemetery, dedicated to the memory of the American airmen who enlisted to fly for France before the United States entered World War I.
Consulting college alumni records, period newspapers, memoirs, and personal correspondence, our historians crafted individual biographies for the 68 American pilots and two French officers honored at the memorial, highlighting their achievements in French service and civilian life. We provided ABMC with high-resolution photographs of each flyer to put a face with a name and story. We reviewed unprocessed photograph collections at the Library of Congress and other repositories to obtain portraits. Our team also drafted descriptions of aerial combat and World War I era technology to accompany the stained glass windows depicting scenes of battle, emphasizing the role of the Lafayette Escadrille in specific battles and the course of the war.