The twentieth century has been called the age of documentation, and folklorists and other ethnographers have taken advantage of each succeeding technology, from Thomas Edison's wax-cylinder recording machine, invented in 1877, to the latest digital audio equipment, in order to record the voices and music of many regional, ethnic, and cultural groups, in the United States and around the world. Much of this priceless documentation has been assembled and preserved in the American Folklife Center's Archive of Folk Culture, which founding head Robert W. Gordon, in 1928, called "a national project with many workers." As we enter the twenty-first century the American Folklife Center is working on the critical issues of digital preservation, Web access, and archival management.
This site features approximately 2,900 life histories, both in transcribed and image form, collected from 1936-1940. The documents represent the work of more than 300 writers from the Federal Writers' Project of the U.S. Work Projects Administration. The histories appear as drafts and revisions, in various formats, from narrative to dialogue, report to case history. Topics include the informant's family, education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, and diet, as well as observations on society and culture. Interviewers often substituted pseudonyms for names of individuals and places.
This site offers transcriptions of more than 180 interviews with a variety of artists, including Louise Nevelson, Robert Indiana, Richard Diebenkorn, and Rube Goldberg. Projects include Texas and southwestern artists, Northwest artists, Latino artists, African-American artists, Asian-American artists, and women in the arts in Southern California. This site also include transcripts for more than 50 of the 400 interviews conducted in the 1960s as part of the "New Deal and the Arts Oral History Program."
Through dynamic, recorded interviews, oral history preserves the stories of individuals who helped create the fabric of history and whose lives, in turn, were shaped by the people, places, events, and ideas of their day.
The Institute for Oral History has recorded and preserved oral histories since 1970, earning along the way a strong reputation for multidisciplinary outreach to both academic scholars and community historians by providing professional leadership, educational tools, and research opportunities.
A collaborative effort of the Manuscripts and Prints and Photographs Divisions, this site has more than 2,300 first person accounts of slavery. The narratives were collected as part of the 1930s Federal Writers' Project of the Works Project Administration, and they were assembled and microfilmed in 1941 as the 17-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Each digitized transcript of a slave narrative is accompanied by notes including the name of the narrator, place and date of the interview, interviewer's name, length of transcript, and cataloging information.
Part of the Center for Documentary Research and Practice, the mission of the Oral History Archive at Indiana University is "to preserve, collect, and interpret 20th-century history through the medium of first-person testimony."
This website offers 125 oral histories relating to the civil rights movement, drawn from the University of Southern Mississippi Center for Oral History Collection. The site features interviews with civil rights leaders such as Charles Cobb, Charles Evers, and Aaron Henry. It also offers oral history information about prominent figures on both sides of the civil rights movement, such as "race-baiting" Governor Ross Barnett, national White Citizens Council leader William J. Simmons, and State Sovereignty leader Erle Johnston. Approximately 25 of the interviews also provide audio clips from the original oral history recordings. Each interview file includes a longer (250-300 word) biography, a list of topics discussed, a transcript of the interview, and descriptive information about the interview, the interviewer, interviewee, and topics, time period, and regions covered.
This collection contains over 200 oral histories. Categories include: the history of the merger of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers and the Institute of Radio Engineers to form the IEEE; interviews with distinguished Japanese electrical engineers and managers; the 50th anniversary of the MIT Radiation Laboratory; oral histories of RCA Laboratories in the mid-1970s; and more.
This site relies on hundreds of interviews with working-class southerners conducted by the Southern Oral History Program Piedmont Industrialization Project of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The site combines those sources with materials drawn from the trade press and with workers' letters to President Franklin D. Roosevelt to craft a rich account of cotton mill life, work, and protest. There are approximately 70 audio clips of interviews with mill workers ranging in length from 15 seconds to more than eight minutes
The events of May 4, 1970, on the campus of Kent State University that left 13 students dead or wounded are the focus of this site. The materials attempt to answer why the events took place as they did, what lessons can be learned, and what can be done to "manage conflict among peoples, groups and nations." The site contains online transcripts of 93 of the 132 interviews conducted at May 4th commemorations on the Kent State campus in 1990, 1995, and 2000.
The Oral History Association, established in 1966, seeks to bring together all persons interested in oral history as a way of collecting and interpreting human memories to foster knowledge and human dignity. The Oral History Association encourages visitors to our site, newcomers to Oral History, to Join the Oral History Association and Get Involved. Share resources, ideas and experiences on the OHA Wiki
This site offers full-text transcripts of more than 55 fully-searchable interviews, with plans to add oral histories on Black Alumni at the University of California. Current offerings include "The University History Series" focusing on the Free Speech Movement, "The Suffragists Oral History Project," including the words of twelve women active in the suffrage movement, "Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement," "The Earl Warren Oral History Project," and "Health Care, Science, and Technology," featuring interviews regarding the medical response to the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco from 1981 to 1984.
The Oral History Society promotes the collection, preservation and use of recorded memories and plays a key role in facilitating and developing the use of oral history.
Everyone has a story to tell about their life which is unique to them. Some people have been involved in momentous historical events like the Second World War, but many others haven't. Regardless of age or importance we all have interesting experiences to share.
These oral history interviews record the memories of men and women who served overseas and on the homefront during World War II. The archive contains more than 160 full-text interviews, primarily of Rutgers College alumni and Douglass College (formerly New Jersey College for Women) alumnae. Rutgers undergraduates conducted many of the interviews. The easily navigable site provides an alphabetical interview list with the name of each interviewee, date and place of interview, college of affiliation and class year, theater in which the interviewee served, and branch of service, when applicable. The list also provides "Description" codes that indicate the nature of the interview contents, including military occupations (such as infantry and artillery members, nurses, navy seamen, and engineer corps) and civilian occupations (such as air raid warden, student, clerical worker, and journalist).
The Southern Oral History Program has begun work on the next phase of our ongoing long civil rights movement research: the long women's movement. Our fieldworkers have focused on east Tennessee, a rural region where poverty challenged black and white women to band together to pursue labor rights, reproductive health services, environmental cleanup, and economic justice. Collectively, these interviews show how the modern American women’s movement was widespread, engaged women on various fronts, and occurred throughout the rural and urban South. Moreover, many women expressed how they evolved in personal ways within their families and marriages, the resistance they encountered as they began to critique the gendered inequalities in American society, and how the women’s movement continues to influence their decisions and perspectives of everyday life. Explore the interviews here.
This site provides access to 41 of 57 full-life interviews of American women journalists for three professional generations: pre-1942, World War II through 1964, and post-1964. The collection includes interviews with women who began their careers in the 1920s and continues to the present day. Print, radio, and television journalism are all represented. Interviews address difficulties women have encountered entering the profession and how their growing presence has changed the field. Interviews range from one to 12 sessions and each session is about 20 pages long. The interviews are indexed but are not searchable by subject.
Developed by historian and educator Judith Moyer, this thorough guide to oral history offers suggestions and strategies for collecting and preserving oral history. Topics range from an explanation of how and why to collect oral history to guidelines for planning and conducting an interview, including initial research, locating individuals, choosing equipment, and asking productive questions.