Category Archives: Columbia Center for Oral History Research

Summer Internship Opportunity: Walmart Organizing and Oral History Project

Summer for Respect: Walmart Organizing and Oral History Project

Internship description

Fifty years ago, in the summer of 1964, students from around the country traveled to Mississippi to participate in Mississippi Freedom Summer. Working hand-in-hand with civil rights organizations and African American residents of Mississippi, these students helped to shine a spotlight on the deep injustices of Jim Crow. At the same time, these students came to see the world with “Mississippi eyes,” deepening their own commitment to racial and economic justice in ways that would last a lifetime.

To mark the anniversary of Freedom Summer, OUR Walmart and Columbia University’s Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) are teaming up on a program to document the economic disenfranchisement that continues to afflict our country. Students from around the country, hand-in-hand with Walmart worker-leaders, will participate in an intensive summer of organizing and oral history documentation.

The project will last from May 26th to August 3. We will begin with an intensive four-day training in organizing, oral history, and video co-facilitated by OUR Walmart and INCITE, to take place between May 26th and May 29th at Columbia University. Students will then travel in teams to one of four regions across the country, where they will embed themselves with existing workers’ organizations. For the next nine weeks, students will be a part of ongoing organizing campaigns, with a particular focus on conducting oral history interviews with workers, customers, and community members. The group will then regroup in New York City at the beginning of August (August 1-3) for a debrief and celebration, where we will plan next steps for the campaign.

Students will learn to do the following:

  • Provide support and coaching to existing OUR Walmart leaders as they engage, recruit, and mobilize their co-workers.
  • Build relationships with Walmart workers in their communities by visiting stores, identifying friends and relatives of local union members and community members.
  • Conduct oral-history interviews with Walmart workers, customers, and community members.
  • Identify and produce compelling narrative “shorts” that succinctly articulate the impact of Walmart on workers, customers, and communities.

How to apply

Students will be paid a stipend for their participation in the program, and will be reimbursed for travel expenses. As a part of their participation, students will be encouraged to help raise funds to cover program expenses. Interested students should email with a CV and a short letter explaining their interest, with the subject line “Summer for Respect.” Letters of interest are due no later than April 25th, although we will be offering rolling admissions to qualified applicants.


APPLY: 2014 Summer Institute, Second Generation Memories and Stories


The Center for Oral History Research and INCITE (Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics) are pleased to announce our 2014 Summer Institute, “Second Generation Memories and Stories,” to be held June 16-27, 2014 at Columbia University in New York City. The program will explore the ways in which memories are formed and transmitted through family, cultural, political and social frames and experiences. Oral history has been a central methodology in exploring global themes of identity and post-memory through second-generation stories of immigration, migration, poverty, trauma and genocide, displacement and exile. Oral history also provides a setting for intimate exchanges between families, communities and cultures in a way that preserves and secures local and indigenous knowledge across generations, cultures and ethnicities: engendering individual and social resilience.

We encourage applicants to use the Institute to explore a broad range of applications of second-generation oral history research in contemporary contexts and fields including public health and medicine, immigration studies (including the impact of post-9/11 US policies on immigrant communities), sociology and social science more generally. The program will include presentations on how scholars, museums and memorials have used second-generation oral histories, and testimony, in ways that are crucial to illuminating forgotten or misunderstood experiences. The Institute will also include practical workshops in digital storytelling, interviewing and editing.

Core faculty will include:• Mary Marshall Clark, Director of the Columbia Center for Oral History Research and co-director of the Oral History Master of Arts Program at the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics of Columbia University;

Peter Bearman, Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics and co-director of the Oral History Master of Arts Program;

Doug Boyd, Director of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries;

Alessandro Portelli, Professor of Anglo-American Literature at the University of Rome-La Sapienza;

Terrell Frazier, Director of Education and Outreach at the Columbia Center for Oral History;

Amy Starecheski, Associate Director of the Oral History Master of Arts Program at the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics of Columbia University;

Ronald J. Grele, Director Emeritus of the Columbia Center for Oral History;

Linda Shopes, Former President of the U.S. Oral History Association, Freelance Editor and Consultant in Oral and Public History.

• CCOHR staff, students from the Oral History Master of Arts Program (OHMA), and others who have worked in the archive will enrich our discussions with their interpretations.

Low-cost on-campus housing will be available for those outside of the New York City area.

Please contact Terrell Frazier with any questions.

CCOHR Joins Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) in New Partnership

In a pathbreaking move that has strengthened the Columbia Center for Oral History (CCOH), the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) has partnered with the Columbia University Libraries in managing and administering the activities and programs of the CCOH. INCITE and its founder Peter Bearman (Sociology) have worked closely with the staff of CCOH over the years, particularly in the development of the September 11, 2001 Oral History Projects and the Oral History Master of Arts program.

Under the terms of the new partnership, INCITE will have responsibility for the research, education, and outreach activities of CCOH. These include new oral history projects, the Oral History Master of Arts program (which was already jointly administered by CCOH and INCITE), the Summer Institute, and public programming. All of these activities will take shape under the CCOHR. The R stands for Research. The Libraries, in turn, will focus its energies on the curatorial and archiving aspects of CCOH’s mission. The Libraries will devote more staff and attention to acquiring, processing, and making more generally available the rich set of resources that comprise the CCOH archive. All of these activities will take shape under the CCOHA, the A stands for Archives. This new relationship thus anchors CCOH firmly in faculty research and teaching, while bolstering Columbia University Libraries commitments to professional archival management through the Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML).

This semester, Mary Marshall Clark, director of CCOHR, along with program coordinators David Briand and Sarah Dziedzic, all officially joined the INCITE team. The CCOHR will carry out a full portfolio of new and important oral history projects. CCOHA will continue to provide reference and support services under the management of the RBML. Research activities will take place at INCITE’s research space at 122nd and Broadway.

Click here to learn more about CCOHR.

The Interdisciplinary Center Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) cultivates public intelligence concerning socially and culturally vital ideas that can be advanced by research, education and conversation at the interdisciplinary seams that the social sciences share with one another, the humanities, the life and behavioral sciences:

The Columbia Center for Oral History Research‘s mission is to record unique life histories, document the central historical events and memories of our times, and to teach and do research across the disciplines:

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 11 million volumes, over 150,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, and graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 500 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: