Oral History Section

The Oral History Section of the Society of American Archivists is composed of members of the Society and others who are interested in or are actively engaged in conducting oral history interviews and/or teach oral history methodology. The Oral History Section provides a forum for news, for discussion of issues and developments, and for establishing and maintaining communication and cooperation with other professional organizations.

News & Announcements

For the past twenty years, Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC) has focused on preserving stories from a special group of individuals.In 1998, Go For Broke National Education Center recorded its first oral history interview with one of the Nisei World War II veterans. It was the first of what would be many interviews recorded through its Hanashi (“to talk” or “story” in Japanese) Oral History Program. Twenty years later, GFBNEC has recorded over 1,250 interviews with Nisei veterans of World War II and their contemporaries in the war effort.
The Japanese American Military History Collective (JAMHC) is a digital cooperative based on a partnership between the Japanese American Service Committee, Military Intelligence Service Veterans Club of Hawaii, Nisei Veterans Memorial Center, Go For Broke National Education Center and other partners. The goal of JAMHC is to increase access and visibility to resources related to the Japanese American World War II experience, with special emphasis on veterans of that conflict.
The Oral History Association Metadata Task Force (MTF) is charged with improving access and discovery for oral history interviews by helping their creators and caretakers improve the capture and preservation of the interviews’ metadata. The MTF saw the need for more structured information to offer a base understanding of metadata: what it is, and how people are using it. To this end, in 2016 we surveyed a select group of oral history programs at higher education institutions. After reviewing the results, we are launching Phase 2 of the survey.
Ten years ago, the Texas After Violence Project (TAVP) conducted its first official interview with Ireland Beazley, whose son, Napoleon, was executed by the State of Texas for a crime he committed as a minor. Like our interview with Ireland, many of our early oral histories focused nearly exclusively on those who were affected by capital punishment, but we have since expanded our areas of research to more effectively explore the widespread impacts of interpersonal and state violence on individuals, families, and communities in Texas. The TAVP collection now includes over a hundred and fifty interviews, many of which are housed online.
The National Education Association (NEA) and the libraries of the George Washington University (GWU) formed a partnership in 2008 to process and house the Association’s archives and library at the Gelman Library within the Special Collections Research Center (SCRC). Following the official opening of the archives in 2011, it quickly became the collection most utilized by SCRC researchers. Between January and May of 2017, I conducted four oral histories with former NEA staffers.
In 2017, the staff of the Billy Graham Center Archives at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois transcribed over 38 hours of oral history interviews, filling 646 pages. Most of these transcripts have been put online. Among the topics covered in the interviews are holistic social and evangelistic outreach in Mississippi, student ministry in the Philippines, educational work in Lebanon, Protestant missions in China, Kenya, the Belgian Congo, Colombia, Tibet, and India; and the history of Christian radio.
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