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Oral History Association encourages teachers, students, archivists, librarians, community historians to attend national conference



MINNEAPOLIS, MN September 27, 2017 – The Oral History Association, the leading national organization for oral historians, invites everyone interested in documenting and exploring the impact of life events on their local communities to attend its annual conference in Minneapolis October 4 – 7.  The theme for 2017 is Engaging Audiences: Oral History and the Public. 

Oral history has become a powerful tool for people in communities and cities across the nation learn more about the experiences, memories, and stories that have shaped their world and that bring the past to life through vivid images and recollections of people, places, and events.

There will be workshops on creating digital exhibits, podcasting, and social justice as well as free workshops for K-12 educators interesting in incorporating oral history into the classroom.  In addition, the conference includes several presentations and roundtable discussions, and opportunities for networking and professional development.

More information can be found at

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OHA Announces New Institutional Home and Executive Team

The Oral History Association (OHA) is pleased to announce the selection of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, as its new institutional home, along with the addition of new incoming co-directors Dr. Louis Kyriakoudes, director of the university’s Albert Gore Research Center, and history professor Dr. Kristine McCusker.  MTSU will begin as the new home of OHA in January 2018.

OHA, the principal organization of practicing oral historians in the United States, enjoys a national and international reputation as a leader in the field of oral history. Its members include more than 850 individuals from a variety of disciplines and professional fields, and more than 180 partner institutions including university programs and centers, libraries and archives, museums, historical societies, and community-based programs.

“As president of the Oral History Association, I want to say how pleased we are about this new partnership,” said Doug Boyd, President of OHA.  “The coming together of MTSU and OHA strengthens both organizations and will profoundly elevate the oral history community on so many levels. Dr. McCusker and Dr. Kyriakoudes bring a new energy to our organization and represent MTSU’s incredible commitment to oral history and public history over the years.  This transition represents a powerful and exciting new era for the OHA.”

Boyd also expressed gratitude for the work done by Georgia State University, Department of History, and Arizona State University, School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies, which have shared responsibility for day-to-day operations at OHA.  “Both Georgia State and ASU have been tremendous partners and have helped OHA get to this point” said Boyd.  “We are grateful for all they have done.”

OHA began its search for a new home last January, with a focus on expanding its membership, strengthening its national presence, and advancing new initiatives in the field.

Enthusiasm for the new partnership was shared by OHA search committee chair Dan Kerr, the Director of the Public History Program at American University. “MTSU is uniquely positioned to host the Oral History Association given the deep commitment to oral history as a practice across the university,” said Kerr.  “With key supporting, internal partners that work in historic preservation, archival management, cultural resource management, museum management, history, and music, the MTSU team represents many of the core constituents within OHA’s active membership, and we will be in good hands with our new co-directors. Beyond that, there is a clear buy in for OHA by the directors of the Public History Program, Center for Popular Music, and the Center for Historic Preservation. They have come together to form the Oral History Practices Committee, a group that spearheaded the effort to generate the proposal and one that will now work to integrate OHA into MTSU.”

Formally organized in 1966, OHA hosts an annual meeting in the fall that showcases the best work in the field; it publishes and sponsors the Oral History Review (OHR), the principal journal in the oral history field in the United States. The OHA is governed by an eight-member Council and is guided by its mission to “bring together people interested in oral history as a way of collecting and interpreting memories to foster knowledge and dignity” and the key values of democracy, inclusivity, and quality in the practice of oral history.

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Free teacher workshops offered at OHA 2017 in Minneapolis

Two workshops designed to help teachers use oral history in the classroom will be offered on Saturday, October 7, at the OHA annual meeting in Minneapolis. Both are free and open to the public. Pre-registration is requested at Teacher Workshops.


Workshop I:  8:30 to 12:00
Teach the Teachers: Introduction to Oral History for K-12 Educators

By Workshop Leaders Adrienne Cain and Ryan Barland

Calling all educators! Do you want to learn more about oral history? Do you want to find a new way to engage your students outside of the textbook? This workshop is for you!

Join us Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. for our Teach the Teachers workshop! As the title suggests, this workshop is a really exciting introduction to understanding and using oral history in the classroom. This will be geared towards K-12 educators who are new to using oral histories. Leading this workshop is Ryan Barland, Oral Historian at the Minnesota Historical Society, and Adrienne Cain, Assistant Director of Baylor University Institute for Oral History, who will both bring a wealth of knowledge of education, oral history methodology, and local history.

During this workshop, teachers will be introduced the concept and methodology of oral history, explore the basic skills needed for oral histories, and be explore tools and resources available from OHA, Baylor University Institute for Oral History, and the Minnesota Historical Society. We will also review sample projects such as the Northfield Middle School community oral history project that uses its 8th graders to interview community members. Other strategies, such as using oral history to help teach primary sources or in History Day will be discussed.

We encourage everyone to bring laptops as we will be going through some MNHS materials such as Primary Source Packets and Becoming Minnesotan. We will have plenty of time for questions, and input to make sure everyone gets what they want out of this workshop.

Hope to see you there!


Workshop II: 1:00 to 4:30
Teach the Teachers: Incorporating Oral History in the Classroom

by Workshop Leaders Erin Conlin and Ryan Barland

Are you interested in incorporating an oral history project in the classroom? If so, join us for a workshop on Saturday, Oct. 7! Building on skills learned in Workshop I (Oct. 7 morning session on oral history fundamentals), participants in Workshop II will work on developing an oral history lesson appropriate for their classroom. Lessons will incorporate resources from the Minnesota Historical Society and the Oral History Association, and will support instructors in matching the Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies to the proposed lesson.

The Minnesota Historical Society incorporates Oral History into all aspects of its educational efforts. From field trips, to textbooks common core standards, History Day, and more MNHS has tons of resources, staff, tricks and tips to help you bring Oral History to your students. We will go over all of these but will also want to hear back from you! What interests you, what you think will or won’t work in your classroom.

Oral history is an excellent way to connect students to personal and local histories, but we know that incorporating a new project can be a daunting task during an already busy semester. The OHA Education Committee, therefore, is working to support teachers by providing useful resources to make the planning process easier.

Workshop II will be interactive. Novice and veteran oral historians alike are invited to attend. Participants will work together and with workshop leaders to develop a lesson plan they can promptly implement in the classroom.  Come prepared to share your ideas and cultivate new ones!


Erin L. Conlin

Assistant Professor of History, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Oral History Association Education Committee Member


Ryan Barland

Oral Historian, Minnesota Historical Society

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Workshop on Creating Digital Exhibits Using Oral History offered at OHA annual meeting

By Janneken Smucker, Workshop Leader

The field of oral history has made dramatic changes with the introduction of new digital technologies. And with those technologies, our expectations have changed too. For interviews and projects in which we have permission to share the words of our narrators, there is an urge to quickly post online. But how can we be sure we are doing so in a thoughtful, engaging, and sustainable way? And how can we do so without breaking our budgets?

My upcoming workshop, “Creating Digital Exhibits Using Oral History,” will focus on relatively easy ways to share digital oral history content and accompanying visual material online. You don’t have to be a tech genius to create meaningful interpretive content to engage your audiences in your oral history projects. But you do have to be willing to learn a few tricks, experiment with the best formats, and troubleshoot when things aren’t quite how you envision them. These are the lessons I’ve learned from using oral history interviews in my undergraduate digital history courses. My students and I don’t expect to create the same interactive masterpieces that get funded by big digital humanities grants, but we do strive to make meaningful, accessible exhibitions that allow the interviews we are working with to have audiences far beyond the college classroom.

The workshop will explore free and low-cost solutions to sharing oral history online. We will experiment with commonly used open source platforms including WordPress, Omeka, and OHMS, along with freely available online tools like SoundCloud, ThingLink, and HistoryPin.  Bring your laptop and prepare for a hands-on workshop.


The workshop is sponsored by the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia, and will be on Wednesday, October 4, at 8:30 a.m. at the OHA annual meeting in Minneapolis.

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Day of Giving on September 13 to raise scholarship funds

On Wednesday, September 13, the Oral History Association will be hosting a Day of Giving where we dedicate the day to fundraising for our great organization.  Many of you contributed during last year’s effort which was very successful and allowed us to provide much needed funding for scholarships.

This year, we will be designating our OHA Giving Day funds to special scholarships for oral history students and practitioners affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, so they can attend the 2018 annual meeting in Montreal.  I am pleased to announce that we have a commitment from our friends at the Chao Center for Asian Studies at Rice University in Houston and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida to each match our efforts up to $1,000 ($2,000 combined).  We are grateful for the Samuel Proctor Program and the Chao Center’s  generosity which will help leverage the support we get from you and other members.  Your contribution will make a difference!

 Thank you for once again stepping up and contributing so that OHA can continue its mission as the principal membership organization for people committed to the value of oral history. DONATE!

Photo credit: Ashleigh Champagne

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Announcing new editors for the Oral History Review

The Oral History Association is pleased to announce the new editorial team that will assume responsibility for editing and producing the Oral History Review, the leading scholarly journal in the field, published by the Oral History Association and Oxford University Press.

The incoming editorial team— Editor David Caruso, Chemical Heritage Foundation; Managing Editor Abigail Perkiss, Kean University; and Digital Editor Janneken Smucker, West Chester University, will assume responsibility for publication of the OHR in January 2018. Building on the two-person leadership model developed by the current team, Editor Kathy Nasstrom and Managing Editor Troy Reeves, the enlarged three-person group brings their individual expertise and experiences to fulfill the core mission of the OHR, while expanding the international outreach to the larger oral history community and continuing to respond to the changes in academic publishing, social media and digital humanities.

David Caruso is Director of the Center for Oral History at the Chemical Heritage Foundation and is currently serving as theOHR Book Review editor. Abby Perkiss is a member of the History faculty at Kean University and also is the OHR pedagogy editor. Janneken Smucker, West Chester University history faculty, brings her experience in developing innovative digital projects to the role of Digital Editor, affirming the Review’s commitment to digital engagement with oral history content.

As they assume responsibility for the OHR, they are also beginning a search to complete the editorial team, seeking candidates to fill the open positions of Book Review Editor and Pedagogy Editor. Details about these positions and the application process are available on the Oral History Association website at Editor Search.

Stay tuned!  Over the next few months you will be hearing more about the incoming Oral History Review editorial team, their plans for the future, and how you can get involved.

As we move forward, we want to express our thanks and enormous appreciation to Kathy Nasstrom and Troy Reeves, for their vision, innovation, and management of the Oral History Review for the last six years. They assumed responsibility for the production and editorial oversight of the OHR at a time of major changes in scholarly publication and have overseen significant growth of the journal.  They have fostered the journal’s relationship with Oxford, expanded the print content, added an annual section on pedagogy, brought online multimedia content to the journal, initiated a visible social media presence for the OHR, and published an inaugural virtual issue celebrating the Oral History Association’s 50th anniversary. With this legacy, Kathy and Troy leave a solid base on which to further develop the journal across the diverse oral history community, introducing new voices to the conversation on important oral history topics and debates.

A special thanks to the search committee, Martha Norkunas, Middle Tennessee State University, Seth Kotch, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Kathy Nasstrom, current Oral History Review editor, serving as an advisor to the committee. Their thoughtful and considered participation in the search process was invaluable.

Susan McCormick
Chair, OHR Search Committee
Department of History,
University at Albany-SUNY


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Oral History Review seeks Book Review and Pedagogy Section Editors 


The Oral History Review, the official journal of the Oral History Association, is accepting applications for two positions on the editorial team, the Pedagogy Editor and the Book Review Editor.

The successful applicants will join the six-member editorial team of the Review and will participate actively in the development of the journal.  The editorial team—a creative and dedicated band of editors/oral historians—is motivated by a commitment to the journal and its place in the life of the Oral History Association and the broader oral history community.  Together, we seek to make the Review a lively site in which to experience, discuss, and debate oral history.

These positions are wonderful opportunities for national visibility and service to a well-established scholarly journal.  Each provides a chance to network with well-known and emerging scholars in the field and to stay abreast of the latest oral history scholarship.

Applicants for either position should, first and foremost, be familiar with the literature on oral history. Specific duties for each position can be found after the end of this announcement.

Candidates should also possess:

  • strong writing and editing skills (although no formal editorial training is required);
  • solid organizational abilities to manage the volume of articles or reviews;
  • interpersonal skills to work with authors from many backgrounds and fields;
  • technological flexibility in order to learn and use both computer software applications (such as Word and Excel) and emerging web-based applications.

Deadline for applications is 1 November 2017.

Interviews will be conducted in early November, with an expectation that the new editors will be selected no later than 15 December 2017.  The official start date for the position will be 1 January 2018; however, the incoming editors will work with, and be trained by, the outgoing editors (working together as co-editors) to deliver the issue of the journal that is due to the publisher in February 2018.

The incoming editorial team will be in Minneapolis for the annual Oral History Association meeting and available to answer questions and discuss the positions in greater detail.  Also, for more information about the positions and the editorial board, or to submit an application, please contact:


David Caruso
Editor, Oral History Review
Director, Center for Oral History
The Chemical Heritage Foundation
315 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 873-8236

To apply, please provide the following:

  1. Letter of application, stating interest in one of the positions and describing relevant experience.
  2. CV. or resume.
  3. Optional, but recommended: a short writing and/or editing sample, roughly 1,000 to 1,500 words in length.

Pedagogy Editor

The Pedagogy Section is published once annually, in the journal’s fall issue. It aims to highlight not only innovative pedagogical practice, but also sound analysis of the use of oral history in the classroom, in both secondary and higher education settings. Applicants should have experience doing oral history work in a classroom setting, an eye for innovative teaching practices, and an ability to distinguish process from analysis. Interested candidates are encouraged to read through the Pedagogy Section in recent issues of the Review in order to get a feel for the section’s offerings.

The Pedagogy Editor:

  • Solicits articles for the journal’s Pedagogy Section.
  • Works with authors during the initial development of their work.
  • Manages the peer review process for submissions.

Book Review Editor

Each issue of the Review contains roughly thirty book reviews, as well as longer pieces meant to elicit deeper reflections on the role a book or a collection of books has played, is playing, or may play in oral history.

The Book Review Editor:

  • Identifies oral history based books to review using publishers’ catalogues.
  • Finds reviewers for identified books.
  • Evaluates and edits submitted reviews both for substance and for adherence to stylistic guidelines.
  • Maintains a database of books accepted for review, reviewers selected for reviews, and the expertise of reviewers.
  • Develops ways to highlight specific works in the field.
  • Works with the book review assistant (position already filled) to accomplish the above tasks.
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International Committee events at OHA 2017 in Minneapolis


Please join the International Committee at these two events at the OHA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis! Everyone is invited to attend.


International Committee Meeting

When:                 Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Where:               Marquette III room, Hilton Minneapolis Hotel
Time:                   3-5 PM


International Committee Reception

When:                 Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Where:               The Choir room in ‘The Local’, 931 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
Time:                   5:30 PM


For more information, email the International Committee Chair Leslie McCartney,

See you in Minneapolis!

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“Walk in an oral historian, walk out a podcaster…”

by Susan Davis, workshop leader for Podcasting I and II offered at the OHA annual meeting in Minneapolis. For more information on registration, see OHA 2017.


Since February I have been to Armenia, Georgia, Sri Lanka, Morocco, Jamaica, Australia, Senegal and Mozambique to teach workshops on podcasting. Each of these countries, while in differing states of readiness, has a long and important oral tradition and a lively radio culture. The US State Department sent me on a world tour to help move historians, journalists, activists and radio producers into the age of podcasting.  They are gathering voices to tell the stories of emerging from the Soviet shadow, rebuilding after a long and brutal civil war, educating disabled children, legalizing marijuana, establishing rights for original peoples, providing jobs and catching fish. This adventure happened after nearly 22 years in Public Radio, first with Marketplace, then Soundprint, NPR and North Carolina Public Radio.

I produced a daily show for years before turning to teaching audio story-telling and training podcasters full time. Listen, there are more than 300,000 podcasts available on iTunes. 299,000 of those are AWFUL. But the other 1000 are fantastic (give or take 50.) Of the 20 most downloaded podcasts on iTunes, more than half are made by radio professionals. Yes, they have a platform for promotion, but more importantly, they know what listeners want and like, and they know how to tell a sometimes long, possibly complicated story using the inherent intimacy of audio. And that is exactly what I know. And I am anxious to share it with you. You don’t need a plan, just access to recordings, or an idea about recordings, we’ll do the rest int he workshop. Walk in an oral historian, walk out a podcaster. I’ll give you everything you need to know to go home and start the next day (or, rope your grad students into starting the next day!)



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