HISTORY ON THE WEB -- EXEMPLARY SITES
Life Histories, Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940
Library of Congress, American Memory
This site features approximately 2,900 life histories, both in transcribed
and image form, collected from 1936-1940. The documents represent the
work of more than 300 writers from the Federal Writers' Project of the
U.S. Work Projects Administration. The histories appear as drafts and
revisions, in various formats, from narrative to dialogue, report to
case history. Topics include the informant's family, education, income,
occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, and
diet, as well as observations on society and culture. Interviewers often
substituted pseudonyms for names of individuals and places.
Archives of American Art, Oral History Collections
Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Art
This site offers transcriptions of more than 180 interviews with a variety
of artists, including Louise Nevelson, Robert Indiana, Richard Diebenkorn,
and Rube Goldberg. Projects include Texas and southwestern artists,
Northwest artists, Latino artists, African-American artists, Asian-American
artists, and women in the arts in Southern California. This site also
include transcripts for more than 50 of the 400 interviews conducted
in the 1960s as part of the "New Deal and the Arts Oral History
Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project,
Library of Congress, American Memory
A collaborative effort of the Manuscripts and Prints and Photographs
Divisions, this site has more than 2,300 first person accounts of slavery.
The narratives were collected as part of the 1930s Federal Writers'
Project of the Works Project Administration, and they were assembled
and microfilmed in 1941 as the 17-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk
History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former
Slaves. Each digitized transcript of a slave narrative is accompanied
by notes including the name of the narrator, place and date of the interview,
interviewer's name, length of transcript, and cataloging information.
Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive
McCain Library and Archive, University of Southern Mississippi
This website offers 125 oral histories relating to the civil rights
movement, drawn from the University of Southern Mississippi Center for
Oral History Collection. The site features interviews with civil rights
leaders such as Charles Cobb, Charles Evers, and Aaron Henry. It also
offers oral history information about prominent figures on both sides
of the civil rights movement, such as "race-baiting" Governor
Ross Barnett, national White Citizens Council leader William J. Simmons,
and State Sovereignty leader Erle Johnston. Approximately 25 of the
interviews also provide audio clips from the original oral history recordings.
Each interview file includes a longer (250-300 word) biography, a list
of topics discussed, a transcript of the interview, and descriptive
information about the interview, the interviewer, interviewee, and topics,
time period, and regions covered.
IEEE History Center Oral Histories
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
This collection contains 180 interviews with "the technologists
who transformed the world in the 20th century." Categories include:
the history of the merger of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers
and the Institute of Radio Engineers to form the IEEE; interviews with
distinguished Japanese electrical engineers and managers; the 50th anniversary
of the MIT Radiation Laboratory; oral histories of RCA Laboratories
in the mid-1970s; and the Frederick E. Terman Associates Collection.
Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World
James Leloudis and Kathryn Walbert, University of North Carolina, Chapel
This site relies on hundreds of interviews with working-class southerners
conducted by the Southern Oral History Program Piedmont Industrialization
Project of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The site combines those sources
with materials drawn from the trade press and with workers' letters
to President Franklin D. Roosevelt to craft a rich account of cotton
mill life, work, and protest. There are approximately 70 audio clips
of interviews with mill workers ranging in length from 15 seconds to
more than eight minutes.
May 4 Collection
Kent State University
The events of May 4, 1970, on the campus of Kent State University that
left 13 students dead or wounded are the focus of this site. The materials
attempt to answer why the events took place as they did, what lessons
can be learned, and what can be done to "manage conflict among
peoples, groups and nations." The site contains online transcripts
of 93 of the 132 interviews conducted at May 4th commemorations on the
Kent State campus in 1990, 1995, and 2000.
Oral History Online!, Regional Oral History Office (ROHO)
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
This site offers full-text transcripts of more than 55 fully-searchable
interviews, with plans to add oral histories on Black Alumni at the
University of California. Current offerings include "The University
History Series" focusing on the Free Speech Movement, "The
Suffragists Oral History Project," including the words of twelve
women active in the suffrage movement, "Disability Rights and Independent
Living Movement," "The Earl Warren Oral History Project,"
and "Health Care, Science, and Technology," featuring interviews
regarding the medical response to the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco
from 1981 to 1984.
Rutgers Oral History Archives of World War II
Sandra Stewart Holyoak, Rutgers History Department
These oral history interviews record the memories of men and women who
served overseas and on the homefront during World War II. The archive
contains more than 160 full-text interviews, primarily of Rutgers College
alumni and Douglass College (formerly New Jersey College for Women)
alumnae. Rutgers undergraduates conducted many of the interviews. The
easily navigable site provides an alphabetical interview list with the
name of each interviewee, date and place of interview, college of affiliation
and class year, theater in which the interviewee served, and branch
of service, when applicable. The list also provides "Description"
codes that indicate the nature of the interview contents, including
military occupations (such as infantry and artillery members, nurses,
navy seamen, and engineer corps) and civilian occupations (such as air
raid warden, student, clerical worker, and journalist).
Women in Journalism
Washington Press Club Foundation
This site provides access to 41 of 57 full-life interviews of American
women journalists for three professional generations: pre-1942, World
War II through 1964, and post-1964. The collection includes interviews
with women who began their careers in the 1920s and continues to the
present day. Print, radio, and television journalism are all represented.
Interviews address difficulties women have encountered entering the
profession and how their growing presence has changed the field. Interviews
range from one to 12 sessions and each session is about 20 pages long.
The interviews are indexed but are not searchable by subject.
ORAL HISTORY GUIDES
Oral History Program (SOHP)
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Southern Historical Collection
"How To: Resources for Planning and Conducting Oral History Interviews,"
includes The SOHP Guidebook, SOHP Interview forms, and a bibliography
of more than 50 oral history resources. The interview forms include
a cover sheet, interview agreement, interview agreement with restrictions,
life history form, and proper word form. The SOHP Guidebook includes
guidelines on designing an oral history project; advice on conducting,
cataloguing, and transcribing interviews; notes on budgets and equipment
needs; and ten interviewing tips.
Step-by-Step Guide to Oral History
Developed by historian and educator Judith Moyer, this thorough guide
to oral history offers suggestions and strategies for collecting and
preserving oral history. Topics range from an explanation of how and
why to collect oral history to guidelines for planning and conducting
an interview, including initial research, locating individuals, choosing
equipment, and asking productive questions. Moyer also addresses a number
of important conceptual and ethical issues related to conducting and
using oral histories, including questions of accuracy, the limits of
oral history, strategies for overcoming specific interview problems,
and twenty questions to help interviewers learn from their experience.
FOR EVALUATING ORAL HISTORY ONLINE
& Provenance: Is the purpose of the site clearly stated? Where?
How? What is the purpose--archival, pedagogical, etc.? Is this a credible
and useful purpose? Are you provided with enough information to understand
the larger context within which the site was developed, the rationale
behind it, etc.? Why would someone use this site?
Who has sponsored and organized the site? How do you know? Are the organizers
credible? How do you know? Can you contact someone at the site to pose
Features: Is the site well designed? Can you follow its organization?
Navigate it easily? Is it updated regularly? Are graphics supportive
or distracting? Are there links to other related sites? Are the links
credible? helpful? current?
History Material Located on the Site: Does the site include full
interviews, interview excerpts, or summaries of interviews? How do you
know this? Does the site explain why it chose to present full interviews,
excerpts, or summaries? written or audio interviews? If the site includes
actual interviews, does it include written transcripts, audio interviews,
or some combination of both? Is the level of editing of both written
and audio materials made clear?
and Technical Quality: How is the presentation of interviews organized?
Is the layout easy to follow? If audio is included, what is the quality
of sound? Can you hear what is being said easily, with difficulty, or
hardly at all? If the site encourages people to submit their reminiscences,
how much guidance are respondents given? How easy or difficult is it
to submit a response? What is the quality of the responses?
for the Interviews: Are the interviews--either taken together or
individually--contextualized in any way? Is any background given on
the topic(s) of the interview(s) or the individual narrator(s)? What
orientation are you given to the purpose for which the interview(s)
were conducted in the first place, the project/interview methodology,
the interviewers' background, etc. In other words, what tools are you
given for assessing the individual interviews?
the Site and Assessing Quality: Does the site include a listing
or a finding aid to all interviews maintained by the sponsoring organization?
How useful or complete is this listing or guide? Can you search the
interviews for information on a specific topic? Do searches return useful
citations? Does the site tell you where the individual interviews are
archived and if they are available to users? How good are the interviews?
Are they interesting, rich, full, substantive, etc.? Do they contain
unique information, unavailable elsewhere? Overall, what did you learn
from the interviews? Are there things you wish the site would include
or "do" that are not available?