Winter 2018 Note from the OHS Chair

I hope everyone’s New Year is off to a great start! A big thanks to the Steering Committee for the dedication and passion that they are bringing to the work of the section so far. Since the annual meeting, we submitted our annual report that outlines our projects and goals for the next year (pg. 51). Streamlining communication between the Steering Committee and membership is a core focus.  Also, while revisiting the amazing work of the SAA Oral History Project, a discussion began about ways to continue this effort in a meaningful but sustainable way.     

Looking at the ways we communicate to our section members is an organizational theme. At the end of the year, SAA migrated the listservs to a new communication platform – SAA Connect ( The Oral History Section’s new email address is The Steering Committee is meeting quarterly via web conference to discuss progress on the annual goals and timely updates to communicate to the section members. The officers have monthly virtual meetings to keep the momentum going on more detailed projects and discuss delegation of tasks. During both of these meetings, a large portion of our discussion centers on the effectiveness of our communication tools. Some of the other sections have introduced additional social media tools (external blogs, Twitter feeds, and Face Book pages) to reach more people and boost engagement. I am greatly interested to know what methods you all may find most useful. If you have ideas, let me know!  

In 2008 the Oral History Steering Committee began formulating a full interviewing project and worked with the SAA 75th Anniversary Task Force to make it a program highlight during the 2011 celebrations. The SAA Oral History Project launched in 2010. Volunteer members conducted interviews with identified SAA leaders at the annual meetings from 2010-2014. In 2015, the project received a component grant to digitize and make available the anniversary interviews through a partnership with the University of Wisconsin Madison ( Now that the project has ended, we are looking at ways to for the section to create a sustained, perpetual SAA oral history program. The steering committee is working on a proposal to submit for SAA Council review this spring. Be on the lookout for updated details about the SAA Oral History Project’s legacy on the microsite, and news about the next iteration of the interview program.      

It may seem premature to mention the section’s panel for the 2018 Annual Meeting in August, but we are already considering options and staring down a March 1 deadline to finalize a topic and speakers. The section has had phenomenal speakers in the past, and last year was no exception: the session topics considered the use of oral histories to document social movements and the opportunities and challenges of documenting evolving social movements and vulnerable populations. Each presenter brought a unique perspective to the topic. We were especially happy to have a Portlander talk about a local interviewing initiative. If you have an idea or topic you would like to see in D.C. let me ( know about it!