Category Archives: Oral History

Featured oral history | Max Pruss, the captain of the Hindenburg airship

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.

Hindeburg airship crash

Photo | David Erickson | e-strategycom | Flickr

 

Now open for business: The Federated Department Stores oral history collection

neon open for business sign

Photo: @opensourceway, Flickr

One of the Columbia Center for Oral History Archives’ specializations is business history. Notably, in 1965, the oral history research office conducted a number of interviews related to the history, business practices and the evolution of consumer tastes of the Federated Department Stores from its founding in 1929.

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Event | Push Play

Thursday, April 5, 2018, 6:00 PM  7:30 PM, Knox Hall Room 509

Two women in front of whiteboard.

Push Play is a collaboration between OHMA alums Liza Zapol and Nicki Pombier Berger.

Push Play explores the embodied experience of interviewing as a way of examining how we remember, how we ask narrators to engage in memory, and what is, or is not, included in the archive. We draw on creativity and sense of play as a way of pushing through limits in the practice of oral history. Read more about this participatory workshop.

This event is FREE and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. For more information, please email Amy Starecheski at aas39@columbia.edu.

Event | Performing Listening in the Context of Memorial Audio Walks

Thursday, March 29, 2018, 6:00 – 7:30 pm, Knox Hall 509

The Columbia Center for Oral History Research continues its series on Oral History and the Arts.

Does a performance of memory need to include words? When is it necessary and appropriate to re-present someone else’s oral history testimony? What roles do listening, remembering and going public play in the performance of oral history? In this talk, Professor Luis Sotelo (University Concordia) will explore these questions by looking at a series of examples of work by him, by social actors (memory activists), and by other artists.

This event is FREE and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. Read more about the workshop.

Civil rights leader Bayard Rustin on the class conscious roots of SNCC

Since the 1990s, with social historians looking back on how we’ve told the history of the Civil Rights Movement, Bayard Rustin has come to the fore as a central leader in the movement. Specifically, for decades, he was the unsung hero behind the conceptualization of the 1963 March on Washington. But more than that, this civil rights strategist’s life was intersectional before intersectional identities were theorized in academia’s scholarship.

Bayard Rustin gif telling about his civil rights activism.

A Black History Month salute to Bayard Rustin through oral history. Gif credit: Sundance DocNow/@FOXADHD via Giphy

In this wide-ranging oral history from our collection, Rustin sat down with an interviewer in 1987 and shared his reflections on everything from trade unionism to the seeds of Black politics in Garveyism to the struggles of the day, such as bringing down the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Here’s a clip of Rustin’s thinking on how the emergence of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) reflected shifts in African-Americans’ class consciousness.

 

You can hear more from Rustin and others on the civil rights by searching our Oral History Portal or stopping in to the Columbia Center for Oral History Archives at Columbia University.

Oral histories that speak to us on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Saturday, January 27th is the annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust,

Josephine Prins survived both the Holocaust and the September 11th attacks on New York.

Excerpt from the reminiscences of Josephine Prins : oral history, 2004.

You can read about Prins, her memories of growing up in the Netherlands before the Nazi occupation and how she survived life in Auschwitz by visiting the Center for Oral History Archives.

Event | Experimental Design Workshop

Friday, January 26th, 2018, 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.

INCITE logo

Join the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE), home to the Columbia Center for Oral History Research Office, for an Experimental Design Workshop. The workshop will feature two presentations: Kate Khanna on “The Intersectional Nature of Masculinity: Social Class Threat and the Dynamic Nature of Gender Attitudes” and Tiffany J. Huang presenting, “Investigating the Relationship between Perceptions of Intraracial and Interracial Commonality Using Experimental Priming.”

CCOHR logo

The Experimental Design Workshop is free and open to the public.

NYPD Guardians Oral History Collection Open for Research

The NYPD Guardians Oral History Collection is complemented by the Charles Coleman Collection of The Guardians Association Newsletters, where the pictured materials can be found. (“Felon Sneakers” images from Box 1, Folder 6; “Family Tree” in Box 1, Folder 9; “25th Dinner-Dance” in Box 2, Folder 83; “37th Dinner Dance” from Box 2 Folder 85)

The Columbia Center for Oral History Archives at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library is pleased to announce that a finding aid is now available for the New York Police Department Guardians Oral History Collection. The oral history project was initiated by Liz Strong in 2015 while she was studying in the Oral History Master of Arts program at Columbia.

The collection’s fourteen interviews document the experiences of members of the NYPD Guardians, a fraternal organization for African American police officers and civilian employees of the NYPD. Over the decades, the organization has served members by developing community; providing education and mentorship; advocating within the department; and taking legal action to combat discrimination in hiring and promotion. Interviewees discuss the impact of the Guardians on officers’ careers, the group’s advocacy against discrimination in the NYPD, and developments in police work from the 1960s-2010s. As a result of the oral history project, interviewee Charles Coleman also donated a collection of newsletters and other ephemera to the library. These materials are also open for research at the RBML.

Transcripts can be viewed in the RBML reading room. The audio of the interview is also available in the RBML reading room by emailing the CCOH Archives at oralhist@library.columbia.edu two days in advance of your visit. For more information about the NYPD Guardians Oral History Collection, planning a visit to the RBML, or the oral history collections more generally, please contact oralhist@library.columbia.edu.

-David A. Olson, Archivist for the Columbia Center for Oral History Archives

New Al Jaffee Oral History Open to Research

In new interview, Al Jaffee discusses his work for MAD, including the “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” feature. (Artwork from Al Jaffee papers, soon to be available for research at RBML)

The Columbia Center for Oral History Archives at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library is pleased to announce that an oral history interview with Mad magazine cartoonist Al Jaffee is now available for research. This interview was taken for the CCOH Archives by Suzanne Snider in 2016 to complement archival materials from Al Jaffee already available at the RBML and those to become available in the future.

In this interview, Jaffee describes his youth, his experiences at MAD, his work methods, and his theories on humor, among other topics.

The transcript can be viewed in the RBML reading room. The audio of the interview is also available in the RBML reading room by emailing the CCOH Archives at oralhist@library.columbia.edu two days in advance of your visit. For more information about comics collections at the RBML, please contact Karen Green, Curator for Comics and Cartoons (klg19@columbia.edu). For more information about the Al Jaffee oral history interview, planning a visit to the RBML, or the oral history collections more generally, please contact oralhist@library.columbia.edu.

-David A. Olson, Archivist for the Columbia Center for Oral History Archives

Phoenix House Oral History Collection Ready for Research

The Phoenix House Oral History Collection joins other resources at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library regarding addiction and controlled substances. The images above are from pamphlets found in the Carnegie Corporation Of New York Records (CCNY III.B, Box 48, Folder 48.4)

 

The Columbia Center for Oral History Archives at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library is pleased to announce that a finding aid is now available for the Phoenix House Foundation Oral History Collection. These interviews were taken between 2014 and 2015 by the archives’ partner, the Columbia Center for Oral History Research.

Since 1967, Phoenix House has been a prominent institution in the treatment of addiction. The collection’s narrators include Phoenix House founders, former residents, employees (resident directors, regional directors, clinical directors, public relations professionals, directors of human services, and more), and collaborators such as journalists, politicians, philanthropists, legal counsel, and public servants. They discuss the origins and growth of the organization, the therapeutic community model of addiction treatment, and changes at the organization over the years.

Please contact oralhist@library.columbia.edu for more information about accessing the materials at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Digital transcripts and audio for the collection can also be accessed through the website of Columbia Center for Oral History Research.

-David A. Olson, Archivist for the Columbia Center for Oral History Archives