Our colleagues over in the Columbia Center for Oral History Research (CCOHR) will host series of workshops on Oral History and the Future. The sessions are centered around the question, “How is this future orientation made real?”
Read more about the series and see the list of presenters coming to campus this fall.
September 13, 2018, 6:10 – 7:30 PM
Pan Dulce: Breaking Bread with the Past
October 4, 2018, 6:10 – 7:30 PM
The Uses of Narrative in Organizing for Social Justice
October 18, 2018, 6:10 – 7:30 PM
Confessions of an Accidental Oral Historian, Archivist, and Podcaster
November 1, 2018, 6:10 – 7:30 PM
Accelerating Change: Oral History, Innovation, and Impact
November 29, 2018, 6:10 – 7:30 PM
Words Transmitted; Worlds Apart
To say that the events of September 11, 2001 had a lasting impact on New York City, the nation and the world would be an understatement.
In the days after the attack, the Columbia Oral History Research Office, as the combined research and archives arms were known then, had the foresight, skill and tact to design and execute a large-scale oral history project to hear from New Yorkers about how 9/11 had already changed their lives.
Under the leadership of oral historian Mary Marshall Clark,
The September 11, 2001 Oral History Project consists of five projects and programs focusing on different areas of inquiry related to the aftermath of the destruction of the World Trade Center. As of the tenth anniversary, the project as a whole amounts to over 900 recorded hours (23 hours on video) with over 600 individuals.
You can hear excerpts from some of the oral histories from this New York Times article and read more about the project.
Who will be the next Supreme Court Justice to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy?
The confirmation hearings to vet this administration’s nominee have begun. Reporters are describing what went down on day one as unlike anything they’ve seen before in, collectively, years of judicial reporting.
While you watch and wait to see what happens, stop into the RBML’s Center for Oral History Archives and read transcripts with past Justices.
Here are the interview transcripts we have available in our reading room:
If you only know TV judges, please come read some oral histories with actual judges.
Mary Freeman, a doctoral student in Columbia’s History Department and a valued student employee here in the RBML, shared a few of her findings related to the Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, holiday.
Mr. D.N. Leathers Sr., Walter Leathers’ Father Celebrating Juneteenth | DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University
Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery on June 19, 1865, presents an opportunity to highlight a rare resource at Columbia’s RBML in the Frederic Bancroft Papers. Bancroft’s notebooks include interviews he conducted with former slaves during trips he took to the South in the early 1900s. Bancroft recorded their answers to questions he asked about their experiences under slavery as well as many of his own observations about life in the Jim Crow South.
During the Great Depression, the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration assembled an extensive collection of narratives told by former slaves. Despite its biases and limitations—the interviews were conducted almost entirely by white researchers, who often used racist dialect to record the words of their subjects—historians have come to rely on the WPA collection as one of the few archival resources that tells the story of emancipation from the viewpoint of former slaves who experienced it. Frederic Bancroft, who received his PhD in history from Columbia, interviewed former slaves during his travels in the South in 1902 and 1907, thirty years before the WPA conducted its interview project. Bancroft used these research notes when compiling his book, Slave Trading in the Old South (1931).
Bancroft’s interviews suffer from some of the same interpretive issues as the WPA sources. Bancroft grew up and was educated in the North, but he, like most white Americans of his time, held racist views. Furthermore, many of his notes are in shorthand, which presents a challenge to modern-day readers. Even so, they offer a rare glimpse into the experiences and memories of former slaves and their descendants.
One can’t help but notice the explosion of podcasts available for download from sources both commercial and nonprofit.
The Columbia Center for Oral History Archives fields requests for permission to use excerpts from our oral history collection in radio and podcast productions. In addition to any restrictions or permissions that might apply, as Curator of Oral History, I consider the integrity of the project: will the oral history narrator’s story be served and/or augmented by the production?
A recent example of good use of our oral history collection is this story from the CBC’s podcast, The Hook. Max Pruss, air pilot of the ill-fated Hindenburg. Pruss sat down with, as it was called then, the Oral History Research Office in 1960 as part of our Aviation Project. For The Hook, Pruss’ granddaughter Viola, produced this documentary, Finding Max.
Photo | David Erickson | e-strategycom | Flickr
On May 3, the editors of the college newspapers at Brown, Bryn Mawr, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Haverford, Princeton, Rutgers, Sarah Lawrence, and the University of Pennsylvania agreed to publish a joint editorial condemning the American invasion of Cambodia and calling for a nationwide university strike to demand “an immediate withdrawal of all American troops from Southeast Asia.” The editorial said in part:
“We must cease business as usual in order to allow the universities to lead and join in a collective strike to protest America’s escalation of the war. We do not call for a strike by students against the university, but a strike by the entire university— faculty, students, staff, and administrators alike.”
In May ’68, responding to a request from student protest organizers, fusion rock band The Grateful Dead played a free concert on Low Plaza. Band member Mickey Hart writes:
Always up for an adventure, we of course, went right along. Since the police and guards were closing off access to the majority of the campus – we were “smuggled” on campus to Low Library Plaza in the back of a bread delivery truck. Equipment and all.
Click through from rare photos and video of the performance.