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OHA Mentorship Program in its third year and going strong

It’s time to get excited about seeing new faces and welcoming new colleagues in Long Beach this October! Now in its third year, the OHA Mentorship Program will again offer mentorship pairing, along with other networking and social opportunities, for newcomers to the OHA Annual Meeting.

Since 2014 the Mentorship Development Team has been working to bridge the gap between OHA veterans and newcomers to the field and to the Annual Meeting. The Mentorship Program grew out of a recognized need to welcome new and/or young professionals into the organization and to provide them with guidance for navigating the Meeting. The Program also strives to promote connection and collaboration outside of the Meeting. Above all, the mentorship experience is meant to encourage fun and easy networking and to promote continued growth and diversity within OHA.

At the heart of the Mentorship Program is the mentorship pairing process that introduces one newcomer to one OHA veteran. The pairs are introduced via email in the weeks leading up to the Annual Meeting. This year we hope to offer an official meet-up for the pairs (Stay Tuned!), but we encourage pairs to meet on their own when and wherever is convenient. We ask mentors to not only offer advice about how to get the most out of the Annual Meeting, but also to share their stories and experiences and introduce mentees to other colleagues and potential collaborators. This is an opportunity to give newcomers a one-on-one interaction and ask questions that they may not typically be able to. And in return, we hope that mentors are excited and energized by the new conversations and projects that newcomers are bringing to the community.

Newcomers can sign up for the Mentor Pairing through online registration for the Annual Meeting. If you are interested in serving as a mentor or you have any questions about the program please contact Ellen Brooks at moc.l1632496768iamg@1632496768skoor1632496768b.b.n1632496768elle1632496768.

We are looking forward to the continued success of this program in Long Beach. See you in October!

Ellen Brooks, Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Erica Fugger, Columbia University

Kristen La Follette, California State University Monterey Bay

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Throwback Thursday looks at a busy 1984…

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 ude.u1632496768sg@ah1632496768o1632496768.

OHA in 1984…

President: Collum Davis, Sangamom State University (now University of Illinois Springfield)
Site of the Annual Colloquium: Lexington, Kentucky
Newsletter: Tom Charlton, editor; L. Katherine Cook, Adelaide S. Darling, Rebecca S. Jiménez, Margaret L. S. Miller, associates
Editorial office: Baylor University, Waco, Texas
Annual individual membership: $15

USS Guam, involved in 1983 invasion of Grenada

Highlights of the year from the Oral History Association Newsletter

  • Marine Corps Oral Historian Ben Frank recounts his odyssey to Granada to interview members of the Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU). Awakened by a phone call from the director of the Command Center at Headquarters Marine Corps and told he was shipping out that day to Grenada, he traveled for two days to reach the island and began interviewing right way. In total, Frank conducted 36 interviews over a month’s time and came home impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the troops. Of his stay on the USS Guam, Frank said, “I was the oldest Marine present. I probably was the oldest individual in the whole damn flotilla!”
  • The Newsletter included an article by John Neuenschwander on a decision handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit which narrowly construed the scope of copyright protection available to works of history and “refused in this instance to extend copyright protection to published interview material.” However, the copyright status or oral history was at best a secondary issue in this case, and Neuenschwander reported that registration of oral history interviews would continue at the U.S. Copyright Office and advised oral historians to stick with established procedures.
  • The NEH, Ford Foundation, and private grants will expand a study of Iranian history by the Harvard University Center for Middle Eastern Studies.A five-year project to document the contemporary political history of Iran will ultimately include more than 150 individuals who observed and participated in important national events and decisions.

Who we were interviewing in 1984…

Dorothy Tod of Vermont — wives of Vietnam vets in Vermont about their experiences living with and caring about men haunted by memories of the war.

Girl Scouts of Philadelphia — senior scouts, ages 15-17, were trained to interview scouts with 20 to 60 years involvement in scouting. Included in the interviews was the 1933 cookie sale: Philadelphia was the site of the first organized cookie fundraiser.

New England Ski Museum — sixty-three interviews showing the values attached to skiing before 1940 and the development of the organized sport.

Mary Ann Johnson, administrator of Jane Addams’ Hull House — people related to the center from its founding in 1889 until Addams’ death in 1935.

Archive of American Minority Cultures, University of Alabama — Birmingham residents on life in the New South city before World War II, the industrial work place, unionism, church, and community institutions. The staff for the thirteen-part public radio series, called “Working Lives,” included project director Brenda McCallum and production consultant Cliff Kuhn.

 

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Follow OHA on Instagram — a new way to stay connected

Social media serves as a means of keeping the world connected. Various platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, promote that connection primarily through words, as we learn to make our opinions concise while tweeting or keep in touch with people through Facebook messages. Instagram is a social media platform that focuses on photographs, and those visuals are linked through phrases with a hashtag, such as #historynerd, creating a sense of community through images. The Oral History Association now has an Instagram account, ohassociation. This will not only strengthen OHA’s online presence but will simultaneously offer glimpses into the world of oral history, such as the inner workings of the office, or pictures from the past. Through Instagram we will continue connecting with oral historians around the world, sharing our goals of preserving memories and uniting in our belief of the power of shared knowledge. Please join us at https://www.instagram.com/ohassociation/.

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Throwback Thursday takes a look at 1983

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 ude.u1632496768sg@ah1632496768o1632496768.

OHA in 1983…

 

Cal State-Long Beach President Stephen Horn, Sherna Gluck, and Rosie project participants Emilie Cook and Susan Laughlin

President: Elizabeth B. Mason, Columbia University
Site of the Annual Colloquium: Seattle, Washington
Newsletter: Tom Charlton, editor; L. Katherine Cook, Adelaide S. Darling, Rebecca S. Jiménez, Margaret L. S. Miller, associates
Editorial office: Baylor University, Waco, Texas
Annual individual membership: $15

Highlights of the year from the Oral History Association Newsletter

  • A four-year oral history research project called Rosie the Riveter Revisited: Women and the World War II Experience wrapped in 1983. Sherna Gluck, coordinator of the Oral History Resource Center at California State University-Long Beach, launched the project after coming across a 1944 survey that found 80% of the women surveyed planned to continue working at their jobs after the war ended. “Hitler really did get us out of the kitchen” explained Tina Hill, a black interviewee with two years of college who could find work only as a domestic until the war began.
  • OHA President Elizabeth B. Mason visited Seattle to make plans for the 1983 Annual Colloquium. She returned to New York by train, making whistle stops in oral history centers across the country during her transcontinental trip April 24-May 6, 1983.
  • As a result of a constitutional amendment passed the previous year, OHA elected officers by mail ballot for the first time in 1983 rather than by vote at the Annual Colloquium. The change provided voting privileges to all eligible association members. For the first time, student members also received voting rights.
  • An article entitled “History of OHA Humming Along” describes the OHA’s early efforts to record its own history. The article chronicles a series of interviews with leaders such as James Mink, Peter Olch, Knox Mellon, and Enid Douglass, people who had knowledge of the evolution of policies or activities of the association. The first interviews were deposited in the OHA archives at what was then North Texas State University in Denton, Texas, and more interviews were scheduled.

Who were we interviewing in 1983?

  • Institute of Oral History, University of Texas-El Paso — union and non-union workers, management, and community leaders involved in three significant strikes in the twin cities of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.
  • Luke S. K. Kwong, sponsored by the Chinese University of Hong Kong — Chinese who lived through the fall of Hong Kong in 1941 and the Japanese occupation. More than 70 interviews provided details on survival techniques and the privations and cruelties the civilian population experienced.
  • Institute for Black Religious Research at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary — 115 interviews on black worship and devotional practices in the twentieth century conducted in metro Chicago and Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.

 

 

 

 

 

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Throwback Thursday greets 1982…

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 ude.u1632496768sg@ah1632496768o1632496768.

OHA in 1982…

Foxfire cast members Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, and Keith Carradine

President: John A. Neuenschwander, Carthage College
Site of the Annual Colloquium: San Antonio, Texas
Newsletter: Tom Charlton, editor; L. Katherine Cook, Adelaide S. Darling, Rebecca S. Jiménez, Margaret L. S. Miller, associates
Editorial office: Baylor University, Waco, Texas
Annual individual membership: $15

Highlights of the year from the OHA newsletter:

  • The Former Members of Congress Oral History Program presented transcripts of 85 interviews with former members of the Senate and House. The project entitled “The Modern Congress in American History” was directed by Charles Morrisey and coordinated by Fern Ingersoll with grants from the NEH, the Rockefeller Foundation, and other supporters.
  • The Imperial War Museum in London reported that it had collected an extensive number of oral histories that were available for research. Topics range from War Work and Military and Naval Aviation to the Anti-War Movement and British Service Cameramen.
  • The play Foxfire, based on Eliot Wigginton’s books, opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theater on Nov 10. Starring Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, the story line drew heavily upon oral history. The newsletter reported that Martha Ross and a group of OHMAR members attended the play in Baltimore and had a positive review.

Who were we interviewing in 1982?

  • Indiana Extension Homemakers Association — homemakers on the changing societal roles of women. Each county in the state was asked to contribute five interviews for a total of 460.
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — Mormon pioneers in southeastern Idaho, the Mormon experience in the West, and life in a Mormon polygamous family.
  • New Jersey Black Oral History Workshop — private lives of New Jersey blacks between the World Wars, including the great migration from the South, the Depression, and common experiences such as lack of jobs, poor housing conditions, and the threat of entrapment within emerging black ghettos.

Check back next week for 1983…

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Throwback Thursday…Oral historians at work in 1981

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 ude.u1632496768sg@ah1632496768o1632496768.

OHA in 1981…

Shirley Stephenson, Stephen Stern, and Stephen Colston, charter members and officers of SOHA

President: James W. Hammack, Jr., Murray State University
Site of the Annual Colloquium: Burlington, Vermont
Newsletter: Tom Charlton, editor; L. Katherine Cook, Adelaide S. Darling, Rebecca S. Jiménez, Margaret L. S. Miller, associates; David B. Stricklin, contributing editor
Editorial office: Baylor University, Waco, Texas
Annual individual membership: $15

Highlights of the year from the Oral History Association newsletter:

  • Nancy Whistler, project director of OHA’s education and outreach study funded by NEH, reported the results of her six-month, nationwide survey identifying persons and institutions involved in efforts to bring coherence and standardized training to oral history. The study led to the conclusion that “oral history training services in the United States lack both standardization and criteria for selection of teaching faculty.” Other items noted were the “random selection and development of instructional manuals and the frequent changes in locations of workshops.” OHA was planning a future grant application to address those needs.
  • The organizational meeting of the Southwest Oral History Association (SOHA) occurred on June 6, 1981, in Pasadena, CA. Members elected officers and adopted a constitution.
  • An article called “Reaganomics Hits OHA” described the impact of the Reagan transition on speakers for the 1981 Colloquium. Carter-appointed leaders of a certain government agency had approved a request for funding to bring several international oral historians to Burlington, Vermont. When “Reagan’s new broom went to work”… the government staff was gone and so was the funding. “But with a typical government quirk, there was a bit of money for more esoteric purposes: we could bring someone from Antarctica or Outer Mongolia who specialized in non-literate societies, for example.” Colloquium organizers decided to pass on that opportunity.
  • The Urban Archives “Discovering Community History Project” was highlighted in an article by Charles Hardy reprinted from Reel to Reel: Pennsylvania Oral History Newsletter. Hardy described the project, sponsored by Temple University, “designed as an experiment aimed at democratizing history by enabling the residents of three very different Philadelphia neighbors to explore and document their communities’ past.” The article examined the lesson learned from working with community residents in the neighborhoods of Haddington, Wynnefield, and Whitman.

Burt Tietje interviews Mrs. Ward A. Davis for the Jefferson Davis Parish: An Oral and Visual History project, Louisiana.
Note the 1981 technology in use…

Who we were interviewing in 1981?

  • Regional Oral History Office (ROHO) at Berkeley — completed their eight volume, 2,948-page suffragists project which includes “the only lengthy interview with Alice Paul, leader of the militant National Women’s Party and sponsor of the first Equal Rights Amendment.”
  • United Negro College Fund — several original college presidents and a longtime volunteer workers for the first phase of a project documenting higher education.
  • Radio Free Georgia — interviews with a wide spectrum of Atlantans for a fifty-part oral history documentary entitled “Living Atlanta.”
  • The Amalgamated Textile Workers’ Union in San Antonio — garment workers of South Texas for an oral history project called “Threads.”

 

Check back next week for 1982…

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International Committee Blog

Oral History Association International Scholarships

Sixteen international scholarship applications were received this year and the decisions on which to fund were very challenging for the committee. In the end, five scholarships were awarded:

Joana Craveiro, Portugal

Marella Hoffman, UK

Meera Anna Oommen, India

Annie Pohlman, Australia

Samantha Prendergast, Australia

Congratulations to you all! Your attendance and presentations at the Annual Meeting will indeed be of great interest to those in attendance.

Between now and the Annual Meeting in October, the abstracts of the awardees papers/presentations will be highlighted in this blog.

This month we feature Annie Pholman and Samantha Prendergast, both from Australia.

Annie Pohlman, Australia

Small boxes of sexual crimes: turning oral histories into evidence for the International People’s Tribunal for 1965

This paper reflects on the process and ethics of turning individual life stories, told through oral history interviews, into evidence of crimes. Specifically, I reflect on my role in preparing evidence of sexual crimes for the International People’s Tribunal for 1965: a tribunal set up in 2015 in the Netherlands to achieve symbolic justice for crimes against humanity committed during the 1965-1966 mass killings in Indonesia. During these killings, an estimated 500,000 men, women and children were massacred, and more than one million others were rounded up and held as political prisoners. In the fifty years since these killings, the Indonesian state has yet to investigate or redress these crimes. The International People’s Tribunal for 1965 brought together survivors, researchers, artists and journalists from across Indonesia and around the world, who charged the Indonesian state with various crimes against humanity, including murder, enslavement and torture.

The Tribunal also charged seven separate sexual crimes as crimes against humanity, including rape, torture, sexual enslavement and forced pregnancy. My role in this Tribunal was to prepare evidence for the Prosecutor for each of these sexual crimes. This evidence was based on the oral testimonies of survivors and eyewitnesses, gathered by Indonesian human rights organisations and researchers, as well as from my own oral history research over the last fifteen years.

This paper critiques the process of turning the life stories of individual survivors and witnesses into evidence for the Tribunal. Complex narratives of trauma and survival, told over hours, weeks or longer, were reduced to individual case files of crimes. Each case file – representing one person’s experience of one or more sexual crimes – contained information about the timing, location and people involved in the crime, and descriptions of the acts of sexual violence. The details were extracted from these personal stories to fill in small blank boxes of information for evidence. I argue that this process was one of intense mediation and obliteration. Evidence for the Tribunal was gained but at the cost of erasing much of the testimonies upon which this evidence was based.

Samantha Prendergast, Australia

They Never Recorded the Interviews: Transcripts from the Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System, 1950-51

Between 1949 and 1951, scholars from Harvard University’s Russian Research Centre conducted over 700 interviews with Soviet émigrés and refugees. Rather than record the conversations, which took place in Russian or Ukrainian, interviewers wrote detailed notes throughout the interviews and later audio-recorded their notes in English. The only surviving records are the non-verbatim transcripts of the interviewers’ audio-recordings. For the most part, contemporary Soviet historians use the Harvard Project transcripts as “depositories of fact.” I argue that when we read the transcripts closely and with a mind to their context, we can look beyond what the respondents recalled to examine how Soviet émigrés actively remembered the past. Framed as sources of oral history, the Harvard Project transcripts offer rich and novel insights both into the experiences of post-WWII Soviet émigrés and into how the émigrés made sense of their pasts.

Though the transcripts differ remarkably from contemporary oral history records, they nevertheless originated with aural interactions between interviewers and interviewees. By reconsidering the Harvard Project transcripts as records of oral life histories – and insisting that the life histories are valuable, despite the limitations imposed by the archive – I am proposing that we make space in historical research for documents that do not meet contemporary definitions of what constitutes an oral history record.

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