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Throwback to 1985…a time of change at OHA

Follow our weekly series, Throwback Thursday, designed to help celebrate 50 years of OHA. We’ll profile a year in the life of the organization each week with photos, logos, and highlights taken from the Oral History Association Newsletter. We welcome your memories, photos, and comments at

OHA in 1985…

President: Martha J. Ross, University of Maryland
Site of the Annual Meeting: Pensacola, Florida
Newsletter: Tom Charlton, editor; Adelaide S. Darling, Harriet H. Fadal, Rebecca S. Jiménez, and David Stricklin, associates
Editorial office: Baylor University, Waco, Texas
Annual individual membership: $15

Charleszetta Waddles, the “one-woman war on poverty,” profiled in Women of Courage.

Highlights of the year from the Oral History Association Newsletters:

  • Ronald E. Marcello, the Association’s first Executive Secretary, stepped down from his post after almost 10 years of outstanding service to the OHA. During his tenure, the responsibilities of the position and the activities of the Association “have increased in geometric proportions” according to the Newsletter editor. Anne G. Campbell was named Marcello’s successor at the fall meeting. Campbell was curator of the Appalachian Collection at University of Kentucky in 1985, and UK was selected to host the office of the executive secretary.
  • The 1985 recipient of the New England Association of Oral History’s Harvey Kantor award, Ruth Edmonds Hill was profiled in the Fall issue of the Newsletter for her work at the Schlesinger Library on the Black Women Oral History Project and the Women in Federal Government project. When photographer Judith Sedwick photographed a group of the women profiled, an exhibit was born. “Women in Courage,” first shown in December 1984 at the New York Public Library, displayed the photographs and capsule biographies of the women profiled. The exhibit traveled for the next three years to Boston, Seattle, and Atlanta.
  • Oral History and the Law, by John A. Neuenschwander, rolled off the presses in the summer of 1985. The publication was the first OHA pamphlet in a new series of publications prompted by numerous requests for practical, timely oral history information.
  • Attendees at the 1985 Annual Meeting (as it is now referred to in the Newsletters) “proved in a special way their unflagging commitment to both the Association and their field of interest.” Those who journeyed to Pensacola arrived in the midst of Hurricane Juan, dubbed the “Halloween Howler.” Flights were cancelled or diverted, speakers could not make it to Pensacola, and the Pensacola Hilton suffered broken windows and leaking ceilings. A highlight of the meeting was a buffet reception at the Naval Aviation Museum honoring pioneer oral historian Forrest C. Pogue, biographer of George C. Marshall and past OHA President.

Who we were interviewing in 1985…

  • The Smithsonian Institution — chronicling the roles of a wide array of individuals and groups associated with the internal history of the “Pepsi Generation” advertising campaign, building upon a donation of more than 200 items from Pepsi and examining the American passion for youth.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and the Blue Ridge Regional Library — the people of Patrick County, Virginia, on making a living in hard times, community life, migration, and their rural heritage.
  • State Historical Society of Wisconsin — union members of the United Packinghouse Workers of America (UPWA).



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