The Catholic University of America

Aug. 8, 2011

University Archives Launches 100th Online Finding Aid

Collection of the National Catholic Community Service Detailed

  A soldier receives a can of Pepsi-Cola during a Christmas celebration sponsored by NCCS and the USO in Vietnam. (Photo courtesty of University Archives)

The University Archives has launched its 100th finding aid detailing the contents of a 90-box collection containing records from the National Catholic Community Service (NCCS).

The NCCS was established in 1940 to meet the needs of military and defense department personnel and their families. It was a member agency of the United Service Organization (USO) and the Veterans Administration's Voluntary Service National Advisory Committee, and operated a Veterans Administration hospital program.

The finding aid — an online inventory of a collection — lists items in the collection, such as USO records, minutes from NCCS board of trustees meetings, and NCCS publications, memorabilia, and photographs.

One of the photographs in the collection, for example, depicts a Hawaiian-themed Christmas celebration the organization held in conjunction with the USO in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, in 1969. In the photo, a soldier receives a Pepsi-Cola for the holiday.

“The NCCS records demonstrate that American Catholics, both lay and clerical, were dedicated supporters of their country and military personnel in World War II, and continued to support the troops at least in later conflicts,” says W. John Shepherd, associate archivist.

NCCS dissolved in 1980. Today efforts of American Catholics to support the military are performed on an individual basis or as part of other organizations such as the Military Archdiocese of the United States.

Archives and special collections tend to have so many collections that only an average of only about 10 percent of those collections have detailed finding aids available to assist researchers, according to Shepherd.

At CUA, “a creative mix of professional staff, student workers, and library science practicum students using innovative techniques has resulted in finding aids now being available for 100 out of 350 collections, which is a rate nearing 30 percent,” he says.

For a list of other finding aids, visit To find out more about accessing collections in the Archives, visit


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