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Weather forecast for Sept. 13: Rain, no matter where you are


 James V. Mink, first Chairman of OHA, started the OHA endowment by presenting the organization with a check for “a rainy day.”

That’s because Sept. 13 is Make It Rain Day for the Oral History Association’s endowment.  It’s a one-day, online fundraising event during which each donor who makes a contribution that day to OHA’s goal of raising $50,000 will be entered into a random drawing to win OHA 50th anniversary items—a T-shirt, tote bag and lapel pin–all available at the October meeting.

But more important than the swag is a chance to be part of growing the endowment, currently valued at just under $400,000, which will enable the OHA to begin its next half-century with an ability to expand services for which members have expressed support.

Specifically, the OHA Council has set out several objectives:

  • Enhancing diversity in oral history by expanding scholarships and fellowships. Council has created a scholarship fund in memory of the late Cliff Kuhn, past OHA president and executive director, to which you can specifically contribute.
  • Preserving OHA archives. Council has authorized expenditure of $10,000 to begin digitizing OHA archival materials at the University of North Texas, but more will be needed to develop and implement a preservation and access plan.
  • Continue leading in evolving technologies. Oral history is technology driven, and OHA should remain in a leadership role in developing new digital tools for oral historians.

OHA can spend up to 5 percent of the endowment annually, so the more it grows, the more funds will be available to support existing initiatives and pursue new ones.

Fittingly, the 50th anniversary campaign marks 30 years since James V. Mink, long active in oral history in California, donated a $500 check to OHA at the 20th anniversary meeting on the Queen Mary in Long Beach to start the endowment, which he then modestly called “a rainy day fund.”

While some members may be unable to copy Mink’s example with a $500 donation (worth more than $1,000 today), please give what you can on Sept. 13 (or any other day, for that matter). And be assured you’re investing in the future of an organization that has become the preeminent voice for people who believe in the value of oral history.