Category Archives: Digitized Interviews


Here is a roundup of news and happenings in the field of oral history. Follow us on Twitter @CU_OralHistory and “like” us on Facebook for the latest news and events.


Tule Lake Committee Contributes to Japanese American Legacy Project

During World War II, more than 18,000 members of the Japanese American community were detained by the United States government at an internment camp in Tule Lake, California. Today, this immigrant experience is not one that is often shared. As a result, the Tule Lake Committee has received a grant from the California Council on the Humanities to use oral history as a way to tell the stories of Japanese American protest at Tule Lake, and is also partnering with Densho and the National Japanese Historical Society to conduct full life story oral history interviews with people who were incarcerated at Tule Lake and forced to renounce their U.S. citizenship as part of the Japanese American Legacy Project.

Read more at Common Dreams and access interviews at Densho’s Digital Archive

Columbia University’s Center for Social Sciences Chronicles the History of First Campaigns

An oral historian at Columbia University’s Paul F. Lazarsfeld Center for Social Sciences, Jeffrey H. Brodsky, has conducted more than 60 hours of oral history interviews with politicians recounting their first political races. Brodsky humanizes politicians as he gives them the opportunity to articulate the doubts, motivations, and inspirations during the campaigns that formed the foundation of their public careers. Through a series of video interviews, audiences everywhere can witness the vulnerabilities of politicians, especially during the early stages of their careers.

Read more at The Washington Post

Veteran’s Oral History Project Preserves Veteran’s Stories

Organized and overseen by the Library of Congress and American Folklife Center, the Veteran’s Oral History Project promotes the preservation of veteran’s stories and experiences related to their participation in the United States armed forces. The Fayetteville Public Library is one of the many libraries across the nation that has agreed to take part in the project, as they also believe veterans need to share their experiences, no longer how long they’ve served.

Read more at The City Wire and learn how to take part in the project at The Library of Congress

Bancroft Library’s Regional Oral History Office Conducts Oral History Project on Bay Bridge

As part of an oral history series sponsored by the California Department of Transportation, the Regional Oral History Office team at UC Berkley is conducting a widespread call for stories from those who were involved in the design, construction, and continued maintenance and managing of the Bay Bridge up to the 1950’s. As the longest bridge in the world when it was built, collected oral histories on the history and role of the Bay Bridge to the San Francisco region will not only inform scholars, students, and community members alike, but also be a part of an exhibition dedicated to the environmental history of the San Francisco Bay, opening at the Oakland Museum of California in September of 2013 during the induction of the new Bay Bridge.

Read more at UC Berkley News Center

Houston Community College Southeast Produces Oral History Project Promoting Latino Legacy

After its establishment in the 1890s, the Magnolia Park neighborhood in Houston, Texas, became home to thousands of early Mexican and Tejano settlers. To understand and promote the legacy of Latinos in this community, the president of Houston Community College Southeast commissioned the Magnolia Park Oral History Project, a thirty-part digital film project documenting the people, history, and legacy of the Magnolia Park neighborhood with over 100 interviews and 2000 photographs of community members and their ancestors. Once completed, the project will become a part of a permanent exhibition available to the public in the Houston Community College Southeast’s campus museum.

Read more at the Media Room


Nixon Presidential Library and Museum Releases Formerly Restricted Oral Histories

The Nixon Library and Museum has just released interviews conducted with Judiciary members and the Impeachment Inquiry staff responsible for investigating whether or not sufficient grounds existed for the potential impeachment of President Nixon. These oral histories represent one of the first times staff members have publically discussed work on Nixon’s impeachment inquiry and have been made available via YouTube videos for public access.


Visit the collection here

University of California Santa Cruz Completes Project on the History of Organic Farming

Stories from 58 farmers, activists, researchers, and educators from the early 1960s to today have been released in a new oral history project on the history of organic farming in the Santa Cruz area. Collected by the Regional History Project at the University of California Santa Cruz’s University Library, transcripts of the interviews are available in text and audio format, along with photographs and additional resources.

Read more at Weekend Hippie

Visit the collection here


Oral History in the Digital Age Teaches Us “How To…”

Looking to learn the fundamentals of oral history technology? In the “How To” section of the Oral History in the Digital Age website, those new to Oral History can learn how to achieve good audio recording levels, understand microphones, use lighting for video interviews, digitally preserve interviews and more!

CCOH Staff Featured on ‘Oral History in the Digital Age’ Website

Looking to start an oral history project of your own? Then check out Oral History in the Digital Age, a newly developed website aimed to establish the most innovative and effective practices for oral history in our media-driven digital age.

Headed by the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the project partners with MATRIX, Michigan State University, the Oral History Association, the American Folklore Society, the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in an effort to work with individuals from a variety of experiences and expertise.

From collecting to curating and planning to preservation, Oral History in the Digital Age gives you access to essays written by leading experts about all points in an oral history project. In addition to essays and numerous other interactive resources, these leading voices can also be seen in the “Thinking Big” series, where leaders in the field of oral history talk about their area of expertise in a more personal video format.

Featured in the series are CCOH Director Mary Marshall Clark and Education and Outreach Director Terrell Frazier sharing their insights on both designing oral history projects and engaging communities through oral history in an increasingly digital era. Mary Marshall also reflects on the role of oral history in today’s society and Terrell discusses the exchange that occurs when community groups and oral history centers recognize the value they give to one another and how they inform each other’s work in the process.

You can access Oral History in the Digital Age here and view the other videos in the Thinking Big series here.


Here is a roundup of news and happenings in the field of oral history. Follow us on Twitter @CU_OralHistory and “like” us on Facebook for the latest news and events.


With the support of a grant from the National Marine Fisheries Service, the University of Southern Mississippi Center for Oral History continues its work capturing the stories of those whose livelihood depends on the Gulf Coast’s seafood industry, which was threatened by the 2010 Oil Spill on the Gulf of Mexico. The Center has talked with crabbers, shrimpers and oyster harvesters across the Gulf of Mexico about the challenges the disaster has presented to their way of life and the foodways of the region.

Read more at Southern Miss Now

University of Winnipeg Professor Leads Oral History Project on Salvadoran Voices of Manitoba

Professor of Oral History at the University of Winnipeg in Canada, Alexander Freund, has begun documenting the history of the migration of refugees to Manitoba after World War II, focusing on the Salvadoran community: the most populous Latin American group to arrive as a result of the war.

Read more at Metro News (CA)

Lecturer at University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee Completes Milwaukee Transgender Oral History Project

In an effort to show that oral history is “one of the best ways non-transgender people can get to know and understand those who are transgender,” archivist and lecturer at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Brice Smith, completed an oral history project dedicated to stories of transgender people in the Milwaukee community in a little over a year. The project is now stored in the UWM library archives and is fully accessible to students and to the public. It includes 10 hours of audio and more than 200 pages of transcript.

Read more at Wisconsin Gazette

The Memory Project Documents Oral Testimonies on the 1991-2002 Civil War in Sierra Leone, Africa

Similar to Voices of Rwanda, an Oral History project documenting the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the Memory Project, led by the director of the Jeneba Project, Joseph Kaifla, will give those who lived through the Civil War in Sierra Leone the opportunity to give oral testimonies about what happened and how they were affected by the war. The project will serve as “a platform for justice”, with hopes of educating community youth in order to provide understanding and prevent a brutal civil war from happening again.

Read more at Awoko


Retired Music Executive Donates Interviews with Bob Dylan and more to Library of Congress

According to the NY Daily News, retired music executive, Joe Smith, will donate more than 200 rare audio interviews recorded while President of Capitol Records with popular singers including Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Paul McCartney, Barbra Streisand, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner and others to the Library of Congress.

Read more at NY Daily News

Western Carolina University Library Releases “Stories of Mountain Folk”

As the first audio collection released by Hunter Library at the University of Western Carolina, “Stories of Mountain Folk,” an oral history collection produced by a western North Carolina not-for-profit, Catch the Spirit of Appalachia, has now become available through the library’s website. The collection’s interviews cover traditions, events and life stories of regional individuals of Western Carolina including gardeners, herbalists, farmers, musicians, artists and writers, and is now searchable by name, place, and topic in the collection’s online archives.

Read more at Macon County News

Visit the collection here.


Audio and Sound Recording Forum

Looking for a place where you can share knowledge and discuss current topics relevant to the fields of audio recording, composition, archiving, engineering, and research? “Playback” is a social media network that welcomes people with both professional and personal interests in audio recording.

Joining is free at:

Using Oral History to Teach 9/11: CCOH Participates in TAH Workshop

 Using Oral History to Teach 9/11
CCOH Participates in Workshop with American History Teachers 

The following post was written by Gabriel Daniel Solis, project coordinator for the Rule of Law Oral History Project:

Mary Marshall and I were recently invited to speak to a group of middle and high school teachers in South Dakota as part of the Teaching American History grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The organizers of the conference asked us to speak about incorporating oral history into educational curriculums that address September 11, 2001. Several of the teachers noted they felt a responsibility to include September 11in their curriculums — ignoring it would be nothing less than a distortion of history. They noted that many of their students lack accurate, in-depth knowledge or understanding of the attacks, in part because they don’t have their own memories of the event, instead experiencing it with the constant reproduction of violent imagery on television and in mainstream media accounts. One teacher talked about the difficulties of trying to teach his students about September 11, because the students have been bombarded with inaccurate, oversimplified, and “us vs. them” narratives about September 11. Another teacher discussed the risk of attempting to teach about the magnitude and trauma of the attacks without inadvertently traumatizing students in the process. These concerns are critically important for any teacher that seeks to include September 11— or other emotionally charged historical events surrounded by contested narratives — in their curriculum.

Mary Marshall discussed the September 11, 2001 Oral History Narrative and Memory Project and suggested ways that oral histories with individuals whose lives were variously affected by the attacks could help teachers in the classroom. She showed brief segments of some oral history interviews and several teachers immediately responded that showing the interviews in their classrooms would be helpful. The teachers were especially moved by the segment of the oral history interview with Debbie Almontaser, an Arab-American public school teacher who only moments after the attacks encouraged her young students to refuse to place the blame on all Arabs and Muslims. Mary Marshall also discussed the Columbia Center for Oral History’s Telling Lives Program, which grew out of the September 11, 2001 Oral History Narrative and Memory Project, and aims to take oral history beyond the traditional archive and into schools and community organizations.

Any curriculums that address the events of that day must also include lessons that provide students with a historical and geopolitical context, as well as lessons about how the world has changed — for better and for worse — in the past 10 years. I discussed our work on the Rule of Law Oral History Project, which has focused on conducting oral history interviews with people who formulated or directed policy changes at the top levels of government, as well as those who witnessed, experienced, or challenged systematic violations of constitutional and human rights in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.

I discussed a few ways oral history might be used to supplement curriculums that aim to teach students about constitutional and human rights issues that have emerged in the decade since September 11. First, oral history interviews can be used as additional primary sources to give students a detailed legal history and behind-the-scenes glimpse of the strategies, negotiations, and politics behind laws and policies that affect our daily lives. The growing Rule of Law Oral History Project archive now includes several oral history interviews about some of the most significant jurisprudence related to counterterrorism, civil liberties, and the rule of law in the post-9/11 era, including legal histories of Rasul v. Bush (2004), Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006), and Boumediene v. Bush (2008).

Oral histories can also be used to help situate contemporary human rights and constitutional issues within a larger historical context. In addition to studying primary documents, students can use oral histories to trace parallels between the lived experiences of Japanese-Americans who experienced racial discrimination or were forced into internment camps in the aftermath of the attacks on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and the experiences of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian citizens and immigrants who experience racial violence and discrimination as part of the global “war on terrorism.” Indeed, perhaps the most valuable contribution oral history can offer to teachers who seek to develop curriculums about September 11and post-9/11 human rights and constitutional issues is their unique ability to go beyond dominant narratives. By going beyond the rigidity of the law, teachers provide students with a more inclusive and complete understanding of the real effects of post-9/11 laws and policies on individuals, communities, and the rule of law in the United States and abroad.

CCOH Interview Update: Former NYT Editor Betsy Wade

Postscript: Mary Marshall Clark, who interviewed former New York Times editor Betsy Wade for over 20 hours in the 1990s, speaks with her again in this unique follow-up.

You were the named plaintiff in Boylan v. Times, the sex discrimination lawsuit against the NYT.[1] Last month we posted a link to a session of your oral history for Women’s History Month, that is live on C-SPAN. But as you recall, you and I spoke for nearly 20 hours. My staff and I have a few questions about that larger history that we hope will encourage people to come to our archive to hear your full and fascinating story.

Were there opportunities to get together as women at The Times, and express your concerns? Did you have safe spaces where you gathered to talk, and to plan?

We did have those opportunities and some of them seemed to us very funny. When we wanted to consult with the women from the Daily News to find out what they were thinking, we gathered in a little restaurant in Tudor City — pinched between Daily News building and UN — a place entirely filled with women, women of a certain age, plus-20, having dainty little salads and ice tea. This was the perfect place to meet because it’s clear that no management person of any management experience ever entered the restaurant. This was our funniest meeting site. The most important meeting site was the place where women from the news department of The Times; 9 or 11 or us (we disagree on the number) decided to have a lunch meeting at a restaurant then called ACT ONE in the old Allied Chemical Tower, and the old New York Times tower, a thin sliver of a building at the foot of Times Square. Judy Klemesrud, a reporter in the style department was confident that no one would ever go there. We had our first meeting there and laughed at the thought of meeting under the noses of management.

What was the “moment” in your memory that defined the beginning the women’s movement at The Times?

We would have to reconvene the [women’s] caucus to get the answer. The Times women believed that we were tremendously fortunate. We had jobs that everyone else had wanted and struggled to get. When we went to parties people would say, “Oh you work at The Times. Is there someone I could talk to?” It was very hard for us to understand how unhappy we were. Our lawyer told us we had to think of our employer as Southern Natural Gas! It was a gradual process of pushing and pulling. Grace Glueck said, “The women at Newsweek are sitting in, and also at the Ladies Home Journal, and here we are and nothing is happening here we are not getting anything done!” Part of the push came from my serving as pension trustee and looking at the male chart and female chart for pay rates versus age and seniority. So I knew what the numbers were, I could not copy but the bottom line was the bottom line. We were not doing well. There were no women photographers. But even then there were opportunities, sexually neutral jobs, but The Times wasn’t buying.

When did you know that litigation would be necessary?

Gosh. I think that at the time we had gotten a lawyer, in 1974, and filed very familiar complaints with a city agency and then with the EEOC, a federal agency. We could see by looking at these forms that it had a very legal feel, not a negotiable feel to it. “When did this begin? When did you first notice this or that?” These are not phrases that normally turn up in labor negotiations.

Who were the women who sustained you, and organized with you?

I think that the things that buoyed all of us, that kept us from feeling discouraged in breath-taking moments, were the kinds of women who joined. I am thinking of one in particular. Her job title was “contract matron,” cognate to the job title janitor, except for gender. When she agreed to join the original complainants, I practically sat down and wept. What a brave and intelligent woman, not young. There were events like that, that not only buoyed those of us doing the organizing, but gave us material to organize other women. If Kathleen can join us, then so can you. There were two women who worked in the cafeteria who were high up in seniority order; they were the cashiers. When the organizers of the suit went through the line, The New York Times was buying our coffee.

What was the relationship between your activities as a union activist and your activities on behalf of the lawsuit?

Someone said to me, more than one time, “Why are you guys jumping out of the frying pan into the fire?” When we went from organizing the women’s caucus at NYT and on to running as officers of the Newspaper Guild of New York (the largest local in this international union), it was pretty natural but it was a fluke in timing.

Who were your role models, both in The Times, and outside?

My role model for how to handle difficult situations inside The Times was my long time friend Joan Cook, the most skilled natural political person I have worked closely with. She didn’t know how to lie. Someone asked her, “Why did you shake hands with Bert Powers?” Without a breath, she said, “I didn’t know he was going to cross our picket line. She was a “close-up” role model. I worked with her on two papers (The Tribune and The Times); we had the same gynecologist. Our nanny babysitters were best friends… we pursued the same goals. Joan was a very skilled and emphatic reporter.

The person for whom I have a strong feeling for as a feminist role model is the late professor Carolyn Heilbrun, of Columbia. She was a full professor, an Avalon endowed professor, and bringing along younger women in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and she suddenly realized that her protégées were all getting turned down. So she resigned from Columbia and told them she was no longer going to be the person (the woman) to point to. One of the things I do to carry forward her memory is to lavishly give away murder mysteries she wrote under the name Amanda Cross. I can hardly think of a more brave and important gesture than her resignation.

At her memorial service Gloria Steinem said, “I was listening to television while Anita Hill was testifying. My private phone rang and it was Carolyn and she said, “We have to get her (Hill) a lawyer and some money.”

When you became editor, what was it like to be in authority over the men who reported to you?

On the surface I don’t think this was a move that was like a great splash. I had been filling in as head of copy desk when two or three other people were on vacation. I had been doing it on weekends for more than a year, so I was just taking another small step. The difficulty came when people who I had supervised were promoted over my head and that continued until the end of my career.

What do you have to say to the generation of women now entering the news? What do they need to know, to lead and to flourish?

I think that what I will say to you is much what other members of the Journalism and Women’s Symposium [JAWS] and the members of the Newswomen’s Club of New York and similar organizations say: “They really are going to be surprised when they find out what reality is, and each of them, however wonderful and talented, is going to find that they are not getting the same stuff that the men are getting.”

However, it’s very hard to tell this to young women who think that the battle is done.

Thank you Betsy: for your contributions, your inspiration and your humor. I invite everyone who has read this to come and listen to your entire life history.


[1]Boylan is Jim Boylan, Betsy Wade’s husband.