Category Archives: Summer Institute

APPLY: 2015 Summer Institute, Narrating Population Health

The Columbia Center for Oral History Research housed at INCITE is pleased to announce its 2015 Oral History Institute, “Narrating Population Health: Oral History, Disparity, and Social Change,” to be held June 15-26, 2015 at Columbia University in New York City. Increasing economic disparities, war, political conflict and identity-based forms of discrimination have resulted in an unprecedented global crisis in equitable health practices and the distribution of resources. Specifically, we will look at concrete ways that oral history reveals those disparities within communities that face discrimination and stigma, and offers new paradigms for understanding and response.

Areas of focus will include: HIV/AIDS, mass incarceration, reproductive rights, harm reduction, addiction, stigma and discrimination and the impact of the built environment on health such as asthma and other diseases. The program will focus on ways that scholars and advocates have used oral history to illuminate the impact of inequitable distribution of health resources in local and global communities.

The program will hold workshops on interviewing, analysis, digital oral history applications, and interdisciplinary research methods with presentations from medical researchers, historians, population health experts and sociologists. We encourage applicants to use the Institute to explore a range of oral history-research applications, and will select participants based on a successful pairing of the oral history method with other modes of inquiry and analysis in engaging the topics of population health from interdisciplinary perspectives.

The 2015 Application is Now Open
Priority will be given to applications submitted by February 28

Wednesday, June 18 at 2pm: Love, Literature & Oral History: A Public Interview with Dr. Farah Griffin

Love, Literature and Oral History:
Transmitting our Stories

A Public Interview with Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin

Farah GriffinThe Center for Oral History Research/INCITE (Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics) and the Institute for Research in African-American Studies presents a public interview with Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin, William B. Ransford Professor of English & Comparative Literature and African American Studies, as a part of its 2014 Oral History Institute, “ Second Generation Memories and Stories.” The interview, which will focus on the power of love and the transmission of memory in African American communities, will be conducted by Janée Moses and Dr. Marcellus Blount will provide response.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 18, 2:00-4:30pm.

WHERE: Columbia University, Knox Hall, Room 509, 606 West 122nd Street, 5th floor. Campus Map.

Farah Jasmine Griffin is a professor of English and comparative literature and African American Studies at Columbia University, where she has served as director of the Institute for Research in African American studies. In addition to editing several collections of letters and essays she is the author of Who Set You Flowin’: The African American Migration Narrative (Oxford, 1995), If You Can’t Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday (Free Press, 2001) and Clawing At the Limits of Cool: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and the Greatest Jazz Collaboration Ever (Thomas Dunne, 2008).

Marcellus Blount, Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Co-Director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies, teaches American and African American literary and cultural studies at Columbia University. He has been a Research Fellow at the Carter G. Woodson Institute at the University of Virginia, a Visiting Fellow at Wesleyan’s Center for Afro-American Studies, a Rockefeller Fellow at the Center for the Study of Black Literature and Culture at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Visiting Fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University. He has published essays in PMLA, Callaloo, American Literary History, and Southern Review. He co-edited Representing Black Men with George Cunningham. His first study is entitled “In a Broken Tongue: Rediscovering African American Poetry.” His current project is entitled Listening for My Name: African American Men and the Politics of Friendship. He was the Sterling Brown ’22 Visiting Professor of English at Williams College.

Janée A. Moses is a doctoral student at the University of Michigan in the American Culture Program. In May 2014, she earned a Master of Arts in Oral History from Columbia University. Her thesis, It matters whom she loves: An Oral History of the Life and Works of Amina Baraka, excavates the history of Black women participants of the Black Arts Movement and the importance of knowing whom they loved. In 2012, Moses earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on 20th century American cultural history, women’s history, African American history, gender studies, literary studies, and love. Oral history remains her primary method in pursuit of re-examining history in order to advance our understanding of the present.

INFORMATION: For more information, please email Terrell Frazier at or visit


Join us at Public Events for Our 2013 Summer Institute!

CCOH 2013 Summer institute
“Telling the World: Indigenous Memories, Rights, and Narratives”

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12, 4:00-6:00pm — “One Nurse-Midwife’s Story: Dr. Ruth Lubic in Conversation with Elizabeth Hegeman”

LOCATION: Columbia University, 203 Butler Library, Morningside Heights Campus Google Map, Campus Map

At a time when the infant mortality rate in Washington, DC was twice that of the rest of the nation, Ruth Lubic stepped in.

Join the Columbia Center for Oral History for an evening with Ruth Lubic, nurse-midwife, MacArthur Fellowship recipient, and founder of the DC Birth Center at the Developing Families Center. In conversation with Elizabeth Hageman, the evening will feature stories of her advocacy for “high-touch, low-tech” approaches to family care before and after childbirth. Lubic was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship of $375,000 over five years in 1993 for her work in New York’s South Bronx, where she opened the first state-approved center in the country, the Morris Heights Childbearing Center. Shifting her attention to Washington DC, Lubic opened the DC Birth Center in 2000 to make care available where infant mortality was disproportionately high.

Ruth Lubic co-founded the National Association of Childbearing Centers in 1983 and has helped establish more than 200 free-standing birth centers.

THURSDAY, JUNE 13, 6:00-8:00pm — “Language Revitalization: Harnessing New Technologies”

LOCATION: Columbia Law School, Jerome Greene Annex, Morningside Heights Campus . Google MapCampus Map.

Globalization has been compared to colonization in terms of language dominance and subsequent homogenization. However, new technologies, a hallmark of globalization can be exploited and developed to aid in language revitalization efforts. In this presentation Drs. Tania Ka’ai and Rachel Ka’ai-Mahuta will explore some of the work conducted in Te Ipukarea: The National Māori Language Institute and the International Centre for Language Revitalisation. The presentation will feature the Reo Online Language Systems.

Dr. Ka’ai is the Director of Te Ipukarea and Te Whare Rongomaurikura and also a Professor in Māori Innovation and Development at the Auckland University of Tehnology, Aotearoa/New Zealand. Dr. Ka’ai-Mahuta is of New Zealand Māori, Native Hawaiian, Cook Island Māori, and Samoan descent. Rachael is a Senior Lecturer in Te Ara Poutama, Faculty of Māori Development, and Associate Director of Te Whare o Rongomaurikura at AUT. MORE INFO HERE

MONDAY, JUNE 17, 5:30-7:30pm — “Māori Song and Oral Tradition”

LOCATION: Columbia University, Knox Hall, Room 509 (5th Floor), 606 West 122nd Street, Morningside Heights Campus, Google Map, Campus Map

The Māori language is traditionally an exclusively oral language. Therefore, Māori knowledge, histories, and traditions have been preserved and disseminated through the oral tradition. This rich oral tradition has taken on many forms, including waiata (Māori song). In this presentation, Dr. Rachel Ka’ai-Mahuta will examine the importance of waiata and issues of preserving and disseminating waiata for future generations.

TUESDAY, JUNE 18, 3:30-5:30pm — “Oral History, Storyweaving & Documentary Theater”

LOCATION: Columbia University, 203 Butler Library, Morningside Heights Campus Google MapCampus Map

Since its founding in 1976, Spiderwoman Theatre has broken new ground in using storytelling and story weaving as the basis for the creation of their theatrical pieces.

Join Oral History Master of Arts student and stage manager Sara Sinclair for a discussion of her work alongside director Murial Miguel in the production of “Violence – The Next Generation,” a multigenerational theatre production at Spiderwoman Theatre. Weaving together stories of personal and family violence, three generations of Indigenous women relay their stories of transcending violence in their lives and communities.

Sinclair will present her work to organically layer the women’s words with movement, text, sound, music, and visual images, creating a script from the women’s stories.



Announcing the CCOH 2013 Summer Institute

The Columbia Center for Oral History is proud to announce its 2013 Summer Institute, “Telling the World: Indigenous Memories, Rights, and Narratives” to be held June 10-21, 2013 at Columbia University in New York City. Sessions will explore the themes of indigenous memories, narratives and rights through local and global perspectives. Faculty will include experts on American Indian life, as well as indigenous cultures from Canada, New Zealand and other areas of the world.

The institute will focus on traditions of telling and ways of knowing in primarily oral cultures. CCOH’s core faculty and students from the Oral History Master of Arts Program (OHMA) will engage in dialogue with guest faculty on the themes of indigenous rights, oral traditions and human rights. We encourage students, scholars, and activists from local and global communities to apply.

More information and application:

APPLICATION DUE: April 15, 2013

Core faculty will include (additional faculty to be confirmed):

· Mary Marshall Clark, Director of the Columbia Center for Oral History 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 at the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics of Columbia University;

· China Ching, Associate Program Officer at The Christensen Fund;

· 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;

· 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.

CCOH Releases 2011-2012 Annual Report

It is with great enthusiasm, that we share our annual report on the accomplishments and vision of the Columbia University Center for Oral History (CCOH).Through the generous support of the Atlantic Philanthropies Foundation, the Center has has emerged as a vital global resource for scholars, human rights activists, and NGOs engaged in creating cross-cultural dialogues. This past year, we have archived more than 150 hours of interviews for the Guantanamo Bay/Rule of Law Project, which showcases the role of oral history in addressing the most pressing debates of our times.

Furthermore, we are approaching the final phase of our oral history project of the Carnegie Corporation, for which we anticipate to have archived nearly 1,000 hours of audio and video interviews. Additionally, we have radically expanded our education and outreach activities locally in New York, as well as internationally and on the web. Our public workshop series and sponsored public events have gathered more than 1,000 attendees in 2011-12. The success of our outreach activities has allowed us to utilize and build our global networks through our blogs, iTunes U collections, SoundCloud profile, Twitter feed, and Facebook posts. Our growing number of followers include readers from the United Kingdom, Brazil, Colombia, Turkey, South Africa, Pakistan, Sudan, and more.

Through our Oral History Master of Arts (OHMA) program, located in the Columbia University Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Thinking and Empirics (INCITE), we are expanding and strengthening the field of oral history by training outstanding oral historians each year.

We now invite you to explore an interactive version of our report, featuring audio and video clips, and review the work that CCOH has undertaken this past year. We look forward to the expansion of our efforts and the promising future that oral history has in the academy, public life, education and advocacy.

Reflections on the CCOH 2012 Summer Institute

The following post was written by CCOH intern Alexa Lytle. Alexa, born and raised in Orlando, Florida, is a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying Communications, Performance Studies, Folklore, and Social and Economic Justice.

During the first two weeks of June, I had the privilege of attending the Columbia Center for Oral History’s 2012 Summer Institute, “What is Remembered: Life Story Approaches in Human Rights Contexts.” As an undergraduate student approaching my senior year of college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I found myself to be one of the youngest individuals in the room. Which, let me tell you, was downright intimidating, but one of the most incredible opportunities I could have ever asked for.

I remember the first day, being so impressed by the knowledge and experiences of those in the room, I was like a kid in a candy story, so excited by my surroundings and wanting a taste of everything. I was with incredible individuals of different ages from the United States and other countries like Canada, Turkey, Columbia, Germany, and Nepal. The impatient oral historian in me surfaced right away; I desperately wanted to know everyone’s stories immediately. The five-minute introductions we each gave were such a tease. It was like ending an interview after just five minutes. I wanted to know more! Though luckily, not only would I spend the rest of the day with these incredible individuals, but the next two weeks! And although I was unbelievably excited, I did not anticipate exactly how transformative these next two weeks would be for me as a student, oral historian, and individual continuously trying to figure out the “next step” in life.

At the end of each day, my brain was teeming with ideas and discourse from presentations and discussions. And by the end of the two weeks, my brain hung a nice little sign on its door reading: “on vacation- return in a few days for clearer results.” I had learned so much these past two weeks, my fully filled notebook is evidence that I certainly absorbed more here than a number of other courses in my college career; my brain needed some time to process.

During the institute, I witnessed the brilliance of renowned oral historian and folklorist, Alessandro Portelli; Linda Shopes, editor and past president of the Oral History Association; members from the Concordia Center for Oral History and Digital Storytelling; Doug Boyd, director of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky; Taylor Krauss founder of Voices of Rwanda; and all my fellow institute attendees, not to mention CCOH’s own esteemed staff! By learning how oral history can be used in performances, museums, publications, books, videos and other forms of media, I realized the immense possibility oral history has for social and individual change.

First and foremost, oral history is an exchange between the listener and teller — an opportunity to construct and reconstruct the self through interpretive dialogue. It is a transformative moment of discovery in which one can be moved into action, to become an agent for social change. Yet perhaps most importantly, I realized what it means to actively, acutely, deeply, and reflectively listen. For as an oral historian, not only must I listen in these ways, but I must remain humble and willing to be changed in the process. Because once you decide to truly listen, you’ll start to feel these walls of assumptions break down inside you, you’ll feel your eyes open wider and wider, and you’ll realize that there is so much more that you can learn, always.