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VA History Office

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History of VA in 100 Objects

EXHIBIT - HISTORY OF VA IN 100 OBJECTS: If you wanted to create an album of your family’s history but were limited to 100 items, what would you put in and what would you leave out? These were the questions that the VA historians asked in compiling the History of VA in 100 Objects exhibit. READ ON - JOURNEY THROUGH VA'S PAST, OBJECT BY OBJECT»

EXHIBIT - COVID-19 Medical Innovation Collection

EXHIBIT - COVID-19 MEDICAL INNOVATION COLLECTION: The COVID-19 Pandemic changed the course of life for the American public and VA medical centers across the country. Many innovations were created by VA staff during the pandemic, some of which are still in use today. The VA History Office launched a collection effort to ensure that these items were preserved. CLICK TO READ ON»

Clara Barton and the Missing Soldiers Office

CLARA BARTON AND THE MISSING SOLDIERS OFFICE: Clara Barton was known as the “Angel of the Battlefield” during the Civil War. After the war, she opened the Missing Soldiers Office in Washington, D.C. Over the next four years, Barton and her team succeeded in determining whereabouts of more than 20,000 Union soldiers who had been captured or gone missing. READ ON»

Patriotic Postcards Sent Memorial Day Greetings

SENDING MEMORIAL DAY GREETINGS: Over a century ago, the craze for penny postcards with a pretty picture introduced a fast, affordable means to communicate. Like Instagram. Decoration or Memorial Day was a very popular and patriotic greeting theme—depicted with flags, flowers, and veterans. Explore deltiology through a sampling of holiday postcards from the NCA History Collection. READ ON» 

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Department of Veterans Affairs History 

Welcome to VA's history website!

Thank you for your interest in VA's history. Here you will find a growing collection of features, content, and multimedia that dive into the VA story and learn the HISTORY of VA's services to those who served.

To navigate, click on the links below to find the various pages of our site. The VA History page is the general history of VA as a whole, as well as the heritage of each distinct VA Administration. Our Features page is where fresh, new content will be posted approximately every one to two weeks. Also here is progress made on the National VA History Center - a museum and archival center where researchers and the public will be able to see firsthand how VA impacts our nation. Our footprint is growing, so check back often to see what VA History has for you!

VA's story and history.


How did VA start? Department of Veteran Affairs has not always been its name. The origin story of the modern VA includes many previous entities and names dating back as far as the American colonies. You'll find all that on this site! National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Veterans Bureau, Bureau of Pensions, War Risk Bureau, and Veterans Administration. So. Many. Names. Our team of historians have untangled this lineage and provided it in a chronological format for you to learn. VA's history is also complemented by the backstory of the three VA Administrations, which is coming soon! VA HISTORY»

VA History Features


This is the good stuff! What's covered? EVERYTHING. The people, events, accomplishments, and moments captured that illustrate VA's remarkable evolution serving Veterans. Feature content will be added approximately every 1 - 2 weeks. If you want these stories sent to your email - sign up for the VA History subscription service. Check out today all the FEATURE STORIES»

History of VA in 100 Objects


If you wanted to create an album of your family’s history but were limited to 100 items, what would you put in and what would you leave out? These were the questions that the VA historians asked in compiling the History of VA in 100 Objects virtual exhibit. The exhibit tells the history of the nation’s efforts to honor and reward Veterans for their services by spotlighting individual objects that illuminate key parts of that story. ADDITIONAL ENTRIES will appear in no particular chronological order at the rate of two per week. We hope you will join us as we embark on this journey through VA’s past, object by object. 100 OBJECTS»

National VA History Center


The National VA History Center (NVAHC) is the forthcoming museum and archival center for all things historical in the VA mission and located at the Dayton VA Medical Center campus - itself a designated National Historic Landmark. While the idea of NVAHC is not new, recent actions to make it a reality are. Ceremonies marking its official establishment - and the start of renovation work on two historic buildings to house the collection - were held in August 2020. The public opening of the NVAHC isn't expected for several years, but fascinating work is ongoing behind the scenes. Look for monthly updates in the Curator Corner, which will illustrate the multi-faceted steps that go into establishing a museum and collection from scratch! This will be the GO-TO home for the History Center and the VA history collection. FUTURE SITE OF THE NATIONAL VA HISTORY CENTER AND ARCHIVE»

Multimedia page


Our Historians strive to tell VAs story across many different platforms. On this page are links to videos and podcasts that our Historians host or are guest speakers. Have a couple minutes to fill? Need something to listen to while driving down the road or while working in the yard? Then head here, download or click the links and enjoy some history. CHECK OUT THE LATEST VIDEOS AND PODCASTS FROM OUR HISTORIAN TEAM»

President Abraham Lincoln giving his second inaugural address 1865.

President Abraham Lincoln gives his second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865. (Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.)

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