The Genre of Love-Me Binders

US Military Veterans Documenting Their Service

  • Allan A. Martell
  • Edward Benoit III
  • Gillian A. Brownlee


The US government lacks robust and accurate records of its military personnel. In this context, we argue that attending to veterans’ recordkeeping practices matters to honouring their service to the nation. However, recordkeeping skills are not currently part of the official curriculum of active service members or veterans. Considering this situation, we ask, How do veterans in the US document their service? What are the uses of veterans’ records and recordkeeping practices? Drawing from personal management of information (PMI) and rhetorical genre studies (RGS), we conducted focus groups with veterans and active service members. We found that these individuals attempted to preserve their personal records by creating love-me binders (LMBs) – a genre of records, shaped by the history of recordkeeping practices in the US Armed Forces, that supports military personnel in keeping track of their service. As a genre, love-me binders serve a rhetorical purpose: demonstrating that veterans and sometimes their relatives are eligible for benefits such as health care. Future work should consider opportunities to support veterans in creating and managing LMBs, investigate the creation and management of military records in context, and explore additional domains where records created in the workplace impact workers’ personal lives.

Author Biographies

Allan A. Martell

Allan A. Martell is a postdoctoral researcher at the School of Library and Information Science at Louisiana State University, where he collaborates with the Virtual Footlocker Project (VFP). His research centres on social memories of violence such as civil wars, genocides, or dictatorships. In his work, Martell traces the interactions of youths with historical representations of violence in cultural heritage organizations – such as memorials, museum exhibitions, and archival records – and how the design decisions around such representations shape these interactions. He received an MS in digital media from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a PhD in information from the University of Michigan.

Edward Benoit III

Edward Benoit III is Associate Director and Associate Professor in the School of Library and Information Science at Louisiana State University. He is the coordinator of the archival studies and cultural heritage resource management programs. He received an MA in history and MLIS and PhD degrees in information studies from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. His research focuses on participatory and community archives, non-traditional archival materials, and archival education. He is the founder and director of the Virtual Footlocker Project, which examines the personal archiving habits of the 21st-century soldier in an effort to develop new digital capture and preservation technologies to support their needs.

Gillian A. Brownlee

Gillian A. Brownlee is a student of the Doctor of Design in Cultural Preservation program at Louisiana State University. In her research, Brownlee explores the potential for collaboration among memory institutions. Formerly a library assistant, Brownlee holds a BA in anthropology and linguistics from Louisiana State University and an MA in interdisciplinary studies from Texas Tech University.

How to Cite
Martell, Allan A., Edward Benoit, and Gillian A. Brownlee. 2023. “The Genre of Love-Me Binders: US Military Veterans Documenting Their Service”. Archivaria 95 (May), 42-66.