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President’s Letter

By Allison K. Tracy-Taylor

As 2019 comes to an end, I’m happy to reflect on a very busy fall for the Oral History Association. In October we met in Salt Lake City for our annual meeting, and what a meeting it was. We held concurrent meetings with the Southwest Oral History Association, and it was a wonderful opportunity to connect and reconnect with our colleagues in the Southwest.

            One major highlight of the meeting was keynote speaker Isabel Wilkerson. Prior to joining us in Salt Lake City, Ms. Wilkerson read our recently updated Principles and Best Practices. She was so engaged by it, she wanted a chance to talk more with those who had worked on the 2018 update. Fortunately, Sarah Milligan and Troy Reeves were close by, and they, along with a handful of attendees, were able to talk with Ms. Wilkerson during the keynote lunch about oral history, her work and our own. Along with her compelling talk and book signing afterwards, our whole afternoon with Ms. Wilkerson is something I’ll not soon forget.

            Speaking of Principles and Best Practices, if you haven’t had a chance to read the newly added Archives document (approved at this year’s business meeting), you can check it out here. We are working to add another document to the Principles and Best Practices suite: one on social justice and oral history. While the core best practices documents serve as a general guide for all practitioners, the social justice document will cover the special needs and considerations for practitioners working with or in areas of social justice work or movements. If you’d like to offer feedback or share your own experiences around oral history and social justice work, please contact the office.

            I’ve also convened two task forces, the first being the Independent Practitioners Task Force. Having worked independently for three years now, I have experienced some of the many challenges independent practitioners face and the lack of resources available. With the Independent Practitioners Task Force, it is my intention to better chart the often-difficult landscape independent people navigate and to provide meaningful support and advocacy to help them establish, maintain and build careers. Sarah Dziedzic and Jess Lamar Reece Holler have generously agreed to co-chair, and I’m excited to see the great things they accomplish.

            The second is the Financial Stability and Growth Task Force. Past President Natalie Fousekis is leading this task force, and I am grateful to her for doing so. Recognizing the need for this task force arose from the strategic planning process. As the Association’s short- and long-term financial well-being are integral to everything we hope to achieve, focused work in this area is essential.

            I wish you all the best during the upcoming winter holidays. I hope it is a peaceful and restorative time. And may we all hit the ground running in 2020.

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