I hope this
message finds everyone enjoying the slightly slower pace of summer and with
that time to engage in oral history work, attend one of the many workshops
offered across the country, or turn your interviews into an exhibition, a
monograph, a podcast, digital project, article, performance or one of the other
creative ways our members use oral history in their work.
May newsletter report, I traveled to the Whiting Foundation’s convening held at
the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City where oral and public
historians from the academy – incoming fellows and outgoing fellows – met to
share their work. It was a mini-OHA
reunion as Troy Reeves and I both served as oral history experts commenting on
and providing feedback to fellows. OHA member Christian Lopez also attended and
discussed the Whiting-funded African American community oral history project
he’s launching in Athens, Georgia. Among the 20 projects or so featured at the
convening, close to half incorporated oral history work. We learned about a
walking tour of the Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago that will tell the stories
of its murals and incorporate interviews with the muralists; a traveling
exhibition of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee’s Snowbird Day School developed
with images, documents and oral histories; the Gay Rodeo Oral History Project
and its curated digital exhibit, The Voices of Gay Rodeo; a
crowd-sourced digital project on the Baltimore Uprising that includes oral
testimony; an oral and public history project on race in Tacoma, Washington;
and a Wisconsin traveling exhibition on land, farming and food that emerged
from oral history work (you can ask Troy more about this one).
those engaged in oral history work at the Whiting Foundation convening had
never attended an Oral History Association conference nor were they members of
the organization. Thankfully, with Troy, Christian and myself serving as
unofficial OHA ambassadors, we invited them to attend our upcoming conferences
in Salt Lake or Baltimore and share their work, suggested they explore our
website, and encouraged them think about preservation as they carried out and
wrapped up their projects. It reminded me that we still have work to do to
expand our membership and draw in emerging practitioners and scholars. We would
all benefit from exposure to this innovative work, and they would be introduced
to this supportive, creative and engaged group of oral historians.
The OHA strategic
plan remains our top priority this summer.
We have entered the information gathering stage. Council members are completing a SWOT (strengths,
weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis and are working with our strategic
planning consultant to develop a member survey, which should go live in the
next week or so. We hope many of you
will take time to respond to the survey. The more members who respond, the
better data we’ll have to guide us as we brainstorm, meet with our consultant
in October and begin to develop a framework for the strategic plan. We value
and depend on your feedback as we undergo this critical process.
again want to thank members who have stepped up to assist the organization with
our work, most recently, those who said yes to my requests to serve on awards
committees and accepted nomination to an elected office.