Students explore past through interviewing

“Long before there were text messages, property records, depositions or love letters, before there was a keyboard, printing press, quill pens or even crudely sharpened stones that could carve into the wall of a cave, people were learning about life from other people’s stories. And thousands of years later, we still like learning things that way, says historian Roger Horowitz.

“The past is not abstract,” he said. “It’s about John, Sam, Irving, Phyllis. And that connects with the way we most want to learn about history — through their stories.”

Horowitz recently taught students at the University of Delaware how to capture and curate such stories, collaborating with the Jewish Historical Society of Delaware on an oral history project that focused on senior members of the Jewish population in Wilmington, Delaware.” Read full story with link to website here.

Exploring oral history at Smithsonian

“Oral history is an integral part of the research and culture at the Smithsonian. But while there are historians, researchers, curators, and volunteers across the Institution conducting oral history interviews, there is no central oral history office or collection at the Smithsonian. Since the medium gained popularity with the rise of social history during the mid-20th century, the Smithsonian considers oral history a methodological tool of research, preservation, and interpretation.” Read more here.

Reviving Native American audio cassette tapes

“More than 40 years ago, Gary Wade, a citizen of South Carolina’s indigenous Catawba Nation, sat down for an interview as part of a project to gather oral histories for UF.  The 15-minute interview touched on Wade’s religious life, his service in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and his childhood, which was marked by racism as early as elementary school. Despite this, he said he maintained pride in his Native American identity.

The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program — a research center at UF dedicated to collecting audio interviews to preserve historical events and information  — will work with UF libraries and the foundation to digitize existing oral history and house it on an online platform, Mukurtu, named after the indigenous Australian Warumungu word for “a safe place to keep sacred materials.” Although still in testing stages, the platform hopes to collect and share materials from each of the universities involved in the project.” Read full story here.

Whispering Libraries

“Libraries in Brooklyn are trying to change the cultural landscape in New York City and capture the attention of people passing by in an innovative way. 
The program is called Whispering Libraries.  10 neighborhood library branches have speakers outside their buildings.  Each one programmed to play speeches, oral history, poetry, and music.” Read full story and watch video here.

Students interview community members about COVID

“Zoom, masks, family and politics — these are some of the lasting memories shared by participants in a University of Washington student oral history project. Undergraduate seniors in the Public Health Global Health major at the UW School of Public Health partnered with the Washington State Historical Society to record the experiences of friends, family and associates living through the COVID-19 pandemic.” Read full story with video excerpts here.

COVID-19 Project

“American studies faculty and students are documenting the GW community’s experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of a project to demonstrate how the crisis shaped modern history.

Faculty and students teamed up on the project to record video interviews through Zoom with students, their families, faculty, staff and alumni to illustrate the virus’s social and political impacts on their lives. Researchers said interviews and donated materials, like photographs and drawings from GW community members, will be available on the GW Libraries’ archives for historians and researchers to use to understand life during the pandemic.” Click on “project” above to link to the video interviews. Click here for full story.

Hazel de Berg Award

Nominations and applications for Oral History Australia’s three biennial awards – the Hazel de Berg Award for Excellence in Oral History, the OHA Book Award and the OHA Media Award – are now open. Find out more at: The closing date is 1 August 2021. Winners will be announced at the 2021 Biennial Conference in Launceston, Tasmania in October.

Greek unemployed youth do oral history

“Istorima is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating an extensive Greek oral history archive by offering temporary jobs to hundreds of young people across Greece. Co-founded by historian and New York University Provost Katherine Fleming and journalist Sofia Papaioannou, Istorima will provide temporary employment and training for more than 1,500 unemployed young people in Greece over five years as they fan out across Greece to collect oral histories in their home locales. Istorima’s team of field reporters will collect histories and stories, old and new, across historical eras and running the gamut of topics. They will encourage their family members, friends, and neighbors to each share their own narratives so that Greece’s stories will be not be lost. Istorima aims to record over 50,000 stories, which will be preserved and catalogued in an archive accessible to researchers and the public.” Read full story here.

Hospice Oral Histories

“Those last few weeks and days of life can be some of the hardest.

Hearts break and words become scarce as lives are imagined with one less beloved soul to fill them.

Before Auburn Crest Hospice patients reach eternal rest, they have the opportunity to leave parting gifts that may soothe woe-wearied family members and provide a sense of closure for all involved.

Those gifts are their stories.

“Sometimes, it’s not medicine that helps people die peacefully,” said Mike Haycraft, Auburn Crest Hospice executive director.

Haycraft and the Auburn Crest team have created a special position to capture those stories, knowing that role would be filled by the perfect person for the job: Public historian Sara Jane Ruggles.

“She really ties everything together with our nursing team and our doctor, along with our social workers. It ties it together for that holistic approach,” Haycraft said, adding that what Ruggles brings to the team aligns with Auburn Crest’s motto of, “Choosing to live every moment.”” This story from Idaho, USA. Read full story here.

Battling the pandemic

“On March 26, 2020 I photographed Margaret, a Philadelphia-area nurse about to treat her first COVID-19 patient. I did this in an effort to create an oral history of the city’s response to the nascent global pandemic. Exactly 365 days later I photographed her again in the same place after she had spent a year watching people die. We are all different after that terrible year, but Margaret and her colleagues have seen and endured daily experiences they will never be able to erase from their memory. I have spent 12 months listening to their stories. ” Read the full story here.