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Webinar Recording: Oral History at a Distance: Conducting Remote Interviews

Sponsored by Baylor University’s Institute for Oral History and the Oral History Association

The Full Recording of the webinar, as well as the Q&A Session afterwards, are now available.

The slides from the webinar, a summary, and a digest of additional resources mentioned in the webinar chat and Q&A, are also available.

Tuesday, March 31, 1pm to 3pm CDT
Followed by an extended Q&A session

This webinar is free for the public, and requires no pre-registration. A recording of the webinar will be posted on the OHA website.

This timely webinar will address the dynamics of conducting remote oral history interviews. It will begin with an analysis of the pros and cons of conducting distance oral history interviews. Stephen Sloan will then address aspects of interviewing in a distance environment, breaking down the interviewer and narrator experience in these exchanges, and offer direction on best approaches for interviewing at a distance. In recording remote interviews, Steven Sielaff will cover best practices for recording archival-quality oral history interviews, then discuss in depth the tools and techniques available to enable the user to follow best practices in a remote setting. Physical equipment and software used for landline, cellular, and web-based video conferencing recording solutions will be discussed. Adrienne Cain will cover the legal and ethical considerations and implications of oral histories conducted via distance interviewing. The information included in this section abides by OHA’s Principles and Best Practices, John Neuenschwander’s Oral History and the Law, as well as other resources applicable to distance interviewing.


Adrienne Cain
Steven Sielaff
Stephen Sloan

The OHA Executive Office is Going Remote

Starting Monday, March 20 the OHA’s Executive Office will be working remotely.

Please bear with us during this time as our responses to any inquiries may be slowed down. We will not have access to our office phone, though we will be able to check and return voicemails. We ask that people please contact us through email, gro.y1638799464rotsi1638799464hlaro1638799464@aho1638799464, as that will be our most reliable method of communication.

Thank you!
OHA Staff

OHR Update: Pause on Book Reviews

Update from the Staff at the Oral History Review:

The Oral History Review is not able to mail books out for review at this time because our offices at the Science History Institute are closed during the pandemic. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Upcoming Deadline: Emerging Crises Oral History Research Fund

The Oral History Association provides funding of up to $4,000 to undertake oral history research in situations of crisis in the United States and internationally. These funds may be applied to travel, per diem, or transcription costs for research in places and situations in which a longer application time schedule may be problematic. Such crisis situations include but are not limited to wars, natural disasters, political and or economic/ethnic repression, or other currently emerging events of crisis proportions.

The Deadline is April 15, 2020.

Click for more information

2020 Call for Posters Now Available!

“The Quest for Democracy: One Hundred Years of Struggle

2020 OHA Annual Meeting
October 21-24, 2020
Hyatt Regency
Baltimore, Maryland

The Poster Submission Portal is open. See the full Call for Posters.

We invite submissions for a poster session and project bazaar that will be held at the Oral History Association Conference on October 21-24, 2020 at the Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor in Baltimore, MD. The session will take place on Saturday, October 24, from 10:00am to 12pm. Proposals addressing the meeting theme, “The Quest for Democracy: One Hundred Years of Struggle” are especially welcome, but any timely subject of interest to oral history will be considered. 

Submission requirements: Proposals should include a title and a description of how the poster or project relates to the theme. Abstracts can be up to 250 words.  Posters and projects are a visual medium, so please provide some information about how the display will convey information visually. Because OHA evaluates only the abstract in its decision, be sure that it clearly conveys the purpose of your presentation. The deadline for submissions is July 13, 2020 but submitters will be notified on a rolling basis.

Notification:  For proposals submitted by May 11, the primary contact on the proposal will be notified if the proposal has been accepted by June 1, 2020. For proposals submitted by the deadline of July 13, submitters will be contacted no later than July 27, 2020.

Co-Executive Directors Report

By Louis Kyridakoudes

This past December, I led a delegation of 14 people from the Oral History Association on a week-long tour of Cuba. Despite recent changes by the current administration intended to make it more difficult to travel to Cuba, American citizens can still travel to the Caribbean’s largest island. Traveling with OHA colleagues and friends made for a week of deep engagement with the people, culture, art, music and history of Cuba.

Sixty years after the revolution, Cuba is at a crossroads. The Cuban people face the challenges of preserving the revolution’s gains in face of a global economy and a still-hostile U.S. policy shaped by the viciously punitive U.S. embargo and the 1995 Helms-Burton Act. We traveled to Cuba under the U.S. Treasury Department’s “Support for the Cuban People” designation.

We worked closely with Charles Bittner to organize a week’s visit of deep engagement with contemporary Cuba that allowed us to avoid what the eminent historian Louis A. Pérez, Jr. has criticized as “selling Cuba” to American tourists. Bittner, a sociologist who has taught at Southern Methodist and St. John’s (N.Y.) Universities has been organizing cultural and scholarly tours of Cuba for more than 20 years, first in partnership with The Nation magazine and now with the Intercultural Travel Group.

For our trip, he organized an itinerary that connected our travelers with activists, artists, musicians, public historians and scholars who spoke to what Cuba is today and to what it is becoming.

We explored Havana’s thriving art and music scene. Visits to Taller Experimental de Gráfica, an art cooperative focused on the practice of 19th century printmaking techniques, and other gallery and artist workshop tours allowed us to meet Cuban artists and learn about their work.

An evening with Frank Delgado, Cuba’s leading folk musician and troubadour gave us a unique insight into the connections between the revival of Cuba’s traditional musical forms and contemporary activism. A visit to the home of the Afro-Cuban rapper and activist duo, La Reina y la Real, led to an impromptu performance in their living room.

Rappers and Activists La Reina y La Real perform in their home.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Eveleigh

We explored contemporary Cuban issues with leading experts and intellectuals. A tour with an architectural historian allowed us to learn of Havana’s rich architectural history and the challenges of historic preservation. Seminar meetings with the eminent University of Havana sociologist Marta Núñez gave us a deep insight into gender and sexuality issues in contemporary Cuba.

Literary critic and author Susan Haus shed light on Cuba’s contemporary literary culture. Our visit to ELAM, the Latin American Medical School, displayed Cuba’s strong commitment to training the next generation of medical doctors. ELAM draws students from across the Americas and United States. We met with four of the nearly four dozen American students enrolled at ELAM to discuss their commitment to social justice through the practice of medicine.

We also traveled to Cuba’s southern coast, visiting the cities of Cienfuegos and Trinidad. In Trinidad, a United Nations World Heritage site, we met with city historian and historical preservationist, Nancy Benitez, who shared her knowledge of the city’s history and contemporary efforts to restore its historic city center. Trinidad’s thriving folk art and traditional musical culture was captivating.

OHA members meeting with American medical students at ELAM.
Photo courtesy of Charles Bittner

Cuba now has a dynamic private sector of restaurants, small inns, small shops and galleries, jazz clubs and contemporary music venues. All of this amid the beauty of Havana, city that has just celebrated its 500th anniversary of its founding, and the Cuban countryside made for a memorable week.

We are working with Charles Bittner to plan another OHA-sponsored trip, Jan. 3-10, 2021. You can learn more about the details and costs at the Association’s website

President’s Letter

By Allison K. Tracy-Taylor

I’m excited to announce a new award structure for the Oral History Association.

Every year the OHA gives a number of awards to recognize outstanding work in various facets of the field. With feedback from members, awardees and award committee members, the Awards Task Force, led by Past President Todd Moye with Christa Whitney and Steve Estes, revised the structure of the Elizabeth B. Mason Project Award and the Oral History in a Nonprint Format Award. The new award is intended to be more flexible and responsive to the different types of projects and products oral history practitioners work on.

With the new Elizabeth B. Mason Multimedia Award, the OHA seeks to recognize outstanding oral history projects, collections, exhibits and multimedia presentations for the public. Up to three awards will be given each year. Qualifying projects may be any of the following:

  • Oral History Project or Collection (physical and/or virtual)
  • Exhibitions (physical and/or virtual)
  • Documentary or Performance (podcasts, films, theatrical productions, mobile applications, etc.)

The OHA welcomes nominations for projects with an institutional affiliation, including those undertaken by libraries, archives, colleges and universities, museum and historical organizations, community-based institutions, and others. And we also welcome nominations for projects undertaken by academic scholars, independent researchers and ad hoc groups. The awards will not be given to an ongoing project or oral history program, although they may be given to a distinct project or interview series within such a program. We encourage nominations from both large and small oral history projects. Entries are welcome from around the world but must be submitted in English.

The following awards will remain as they have before: the Article Award, the Book Award, the Martha Ross Teaching Award (awarded in odd-numbered years), the Post-Secondary Teaching Award (awarded in even-numbered years), and the Stetson Kennedy Vox Populi Award.

The deadline for submissions for these and the Elizabeth B. Mason Multimedia Award is June 1, 2020. Information about the awards and the application process can be found here. This page will be updated with information about the new award structure soon.

I thank those who provided feedback on the OHA’s award structure, particularly those who had recently served on award committees. Their feedback was especially helpful. I also want to thank Todd, Christa and Steve for their good work on the Awards Task Force. I look forward to congratulating the recipient of all our awards in Baltimore.

I’ve also been working to prepare for Council’s midwinter meeting. In addition to monthly conference calls, Council meets in person twice a year: during the OHA’s annual meeting in October and at some point in, well, midwinter.

This year’s meeting was at our conference hotel in Baltimore at the end of February. The meeting agenda included additional work on the OHA’s new strategic plan, as well as updates on the work of the association’s committees and task forces, a review of the association’s standing resolutions and a number of other topics. We also met with members of the 2020 Local Arrangements Committee. I look forward to talking more about the midwinter meeting in my next letter.

 Preparing for midwinter has me thinking about transparency in the OHA. We need to work on this in a number of ways, but one question I’ve heard recently is how do members of the association interface with Council?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a clear answer. Not because Council doesn’t want to be available, but because we don’t have set procedures in place. So much of the association’s work is done informally, which can be a benefit in some ways, but it also means when members have a question or feedback for the OHA’s leadership, they often don’t know where to start.

First, you can find contact information for all of the OHA’s leadership here, and you can contact us directly. If you do reach out to one of us, please understand that we do all have day jobs, so we may not be able to follow up immediately, but we will be happy to hear from you.      

Besides reaching out to the leadership, participating in the occasional surveys we put out is always helpful and a good way to provide directed feedback. You can also attend the business meeting at our annual meetings in October. This is a great way to learn more about the association’s current work, but there are also multiple opportunities for attendees to participate in the discussion and even raise new business. If you’re a committee or task force member, the reports submitted to Council twice a year are a great place to include questions for or raise issues with Council.

Finally, you can always reach out to the Executive Office at gro.y1638799464rotsi1638799464hlaro1638799464@aho1638799464. Our Co-Executive Directors Louis Kyriakoudes and Kris McCusker and Program Associate Faith Bagley are knowledgeable and happy to help.

 As my letter might indicate, 2020 has already been a busy year for the OHA, and I’m looking forward to connecting with you all in one way or another in the coming months!