Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.


OHA 2021 Business Meeting: Bylaws Revision and Addition

After the 2021 Annual Meeting, OHA President, Dan Kerr, appointed an Organization Restructuring Taskforce, comprised of Tomás Summers Sandoval (chair); Cynthia Tobar; Allison Tracy-Taylor (until February); and Yolanda Leyva (since April). The Taskforce’s charge was to review the current structure with respect to committees, task forces, and interest groups; review association documents and consult with current committee leadership and others; and propose changes to improve the organizational structure and ensure it reflects and supports the new Strategic Plan.

Out of their work, they have proposed the following changes to the Bylaws regarding OHA’s committee structure. Changes were approved at the August 2021 Council Meeting, and now need to be voted on by the membership at the Business Meeting. As per OHA Bylaws, the changes need to be presented to membership 30 days in advance.

There is a Bylaw Revision and three Bylaw Additions (the numbers reflected below is what the new bylaw order will be). Members can find the complete Bylaws under Association Business on the public website.

The Business Meeting will take place during the 2021 Annual Meeting, on Tuesday, October 12, 12:30pm ET.


Original Bylaw Language:


The standing committees of the Association shall be Education, Emerging Professionals, Diversity, Finance, International, Membership, and Publications. Council may create and dissolve standing committees as necessary to accomplish the mission of the Association. In addition to the standing committees, the president may appoint such ad hoc committees as may be necessary from time to time. Vacant committee member and chair positions, except for the Nominating Committee, shall be appointed for specified terms by the president. This process will be completed as soon as possible after the annual meeting. Association members will be given opportunities to express their interest in serving on particular committees, and that interest can be taken into consideration when appointments are made. Chairs will work with the president to draft committee charges for the coming year. Chairs, engaging their full committees, will work with Council to fulfill charges and will report the activities of their committees to Council three times a year (with the first report due prior to the mid-winter meeting, the second during the summer, and the third prior to the annual meeting). Council liaisons will be responsible for working closely with their respective committees, promoting the efforts of these committees, and ensuring that the committees are acting to fulfill the organization’s objectives. Expectations of chairs and committee members will be communicated prior to appointment. In instances of unsatisfactory service, Council shall have the option to remove committee members or chairs.

New Bylaw 14 Revised Language:


The OHA relies on committees of members to fulfill the mission of the Association.  Committees execute the work and responsibilities as described in these Bylaws and in their charge, provided by Council on an annual basis. Council may create or dissolve committees as necessary to accomplish the mission of the Association. The standing committees of the Association will be Advocacy, Awards, Committee on Committees, Development, Diversity, Education, Emerging Professionals, Finance, International, Membership, Nominating, Programming, Publications, and Scholarships, as described below:

  • ADVOCACY COMMITTEE guides Council and the Association in their role as an advocate for the field of oral history and issues of concern to the Association and its membership. The committee coordinates public statements relating to our principles and best practices, and the rights of oral historians and narrators. More broadly, they advise the OHA in our efforts to support a more equitable, just, and democratic world; defend marginalized voices and peoples; and protect the process of free inquiry.
  • AWARDS COMMITTEE determines the recipients of the various awards and scholarships sponsored by the OHA. Through its subcommittees, it ensures transparent criteria for the selection of awardees and fulfills the mission of the organization in its conferral of awards.
  • COMMITTEE ON COMMITTEES recruits and assigns members to serve on the committees of the Association. The Committee on Committees seeks the advice and consent of Council in making committee assignments and actively seeks to fulfill the goals of the Association with regards to diversity and inclusion.  
  • DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE oversees the association’s fundraising campaigns and other efforts to support the growth of the endowment in accordance with the strategic plan and the mission of the association.  
  • DIVERSITY COMMITTEE supports the Association’s work with regard to diversity and equity within the membership, leadership, annual meetings, and in the field more generally. The committee works independently and collaboratively with other committees to foster inclusivity and promote the meaningful involvement of historically-marginalized populations, in particular those based on race/ethnicity, spiritual beliefs, gender, sexuality, class, and ability. The committee also advances the inclusion of unaffiliated oral history activists and practitioners.
  • EDUCATION COMMITTEE promotes the use of oral history in the classroom and works to ensure the Association meets the needs of educators. The committee creates and maintains networks of educators to facilitate communication; promotes excellence and innovation in oral history education; and provides professional development resources for educators at all levels.
  • EMERGING PROFESSIONALS COMMITTEE ensures the Association is welcoming and professionally relevant to new professionals entering the field (including students, interns, early-career oral historians, and oral historians seeking their first professional jobs). The committee helps create an inclusive and nurturing community within the Association by providing resources, advice and mentorship initiatives, networking opportunities, and by advising Council on policies and procedures to advocate for new professionals within OHA and the public sphere.
  • FINANCE COMMITTEE oversees the finances of the Association and provides information and advice to the officers and Council on their fiduciary responsibilities with respect to OHA income, expenses, and investments. To promote an informed and transparent decision-making process, the committee reviews the annual budget and audit, and ensures the executive office maintains appropriate financial records.
  • INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE fosters and maintains relationships with oral history programs, organizations, and practitioners beyond the United States. The committee maintains open communication with these constituencies and advises the association as it seeks to support and advance the practice of oral history abroad and enhance the presence of non-U.S. practitioners within the membership. The committee serves as the liaison to the International Oral History Association, and encourages the reciprocal participation of members of both in the others’ organization, annual meetings, and publications.  
  • MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE promotes the mission of the Oral History Association by ensuring the growth of a dynamic and diverse membership. The committee maintains membership data, conducts membership drives, and promotes efforts to enhance membership benefits and involvement in the association.
  • NOMINATING COMMITTEE nominates members of the Association for election to Council or as officers of the association, subject to the approval of Council. The committee seeks nominees reflecting the diversity of our membership and the inclusion of those historically marginalized within the profession, and collaborates with the Diversity Committee and others to fulfill its charge and promote clear pathways toward leadership within the OHA.
  • PUBLIC PROGRAMMING COMMITTEE sponsors and hosts a yearly program of events, workshops, and other gatherings relating to oral history and aligned with the needs and interests of the membership of the Association.
  • PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE develops and implements a comprehensive and professional publications program for the Association that reflects the diverse and varying interests and needs of the membership and broader public. The committee reviews and solicits publications both in traditional print and electronic formats, including white papers and pamphlets produced by segments of the OHA.
  • SCHOLARSHIPS COMMITTEE selects recipients for the OHA Annual Meeting scholarship awards.

 Committees fulfill the responsibilities described above and as specified in an annual charge given them by Council. All committees are responsible for making a report of their work to Council—once in advance of the midwinter meeting and again in advance of the annual meeting—and whenever Council may request. As the foundation of the Association’s work, committees are also responsible for suggesting ways the Association might better serve its members and fulfill its mission and goals. Committees have the right to make motions at the annual business meeting without the need for a second for the motion to be considered by the floor. All committees will be assigned a meeting time at the annual meeting and in consultation with the vice-president/president-elect, committees may sponsor sessions at the annual meeting.

 Each year, with the advice and consent of Council, the Committee on Committees selects members to serve on all committees (with the exception of the Nominating Committee, whose membership is determined as described in these Bylaws). Committee members must be members in good standing of the Association and no one person can serve simultaneously on more than one committee. Committee membership should reflect the diversity of the membership of the Association and ensure the inclusion of groups who have been historically-marginalized within the profession. Annual committee assignments are finalized by July 1st, announced before the annual meeting, and terms of service begin at the beginning of the meeting. As part of their service, committee members are required to participate in committee meetings during the year, attend the annual meeting, and take an active role in supporting the committee’s charge.

In order to encourage and maintain effective communication between Council and the Committees, each Council member and officer (except for the Vice President/President Elect) will be assigned to serve as a liaison to one or more Committees. Council liaisons are non-voting, ex-officio members of the Committee to which they are appointed. Liaison assignments for the upcoming year are made by the outgoing Council immediately upon the election of new committee members and Association officers. To facilitate transition, both the outgoing and incoming liaisons should attend the appropriate Committee meetings at the annual meeting. In order to fulfill their responsibilities with regard to the planning and organizing of the annual meeting and conference, the Vice President/President Elect will not be assigned liaison duties. 

 Each committee is guided in their work by one or more chairs. Committees select their own chairs by the Annual Meeting and notify the President of their decision. Chairs are responsible for fostering an open and democratic process for their committee. They convene and preside over committee meetings and, with the participation of the committee members, develop an agenda for each meeting and keep a record of the attendance and minutes. Chairs are tasked with collaborating with their Council liaison to maintain open and informed communication between the committee and Council. Toward that end, they are responsible for preparing and presenting reports of the committee’s work to Council.


New Bylaw 15:


The President, in consultation with Council, may create a task force when the needs of the Association so require. A task force is an ad hoc committee of members charged with specific (usually time-limited) tasks. The president shall appoint a task force chair (or chairs) and will work with them to appoint members and develop a clear charge, including the work they are to accomplish and a timeline for its completion. If no members of Council are appointed to the task force, the president will act as liaison.

 Task forces make reports of their work in progress to Council, as requested.  When they have completed their work they make a full report to the Council for formal action. Once Council recognizes their charge as complete, the task force is disbanded. If the work of the task force reveals itself to be a continuing need, Council will consider whether to convert the task force into a standing committee.

New Bylaw 16:


The OHA is defined by its mission and governance documents, but also by the interests, concerns, and needs of its membership. One of the ways these shape the Association is through our caucuses. A caucus is a formally-recognized group within the membership, one defined by a shared identity, interest, or other criteria. The goal of a caucus is to foster community and inclusivity while creating mutually-beneficial relationships within the Association.

 Caucuses are created by members according to their own initiative and interest. Council formally recognizes a Caucus upon their request and in accordance with the goals of the Association. In general, a request for recognition should be made by at least ten (10) members in good standing and include a succinct description of the defining composition of the caucus. Once recognized, caucuses will be advertised within the Association and its membership. They will also be given meeting time within the program of the annual meeting.

 Caucuses have no formal responsibilities to the Association but, as recognized and valued segments of our community, the OHA welcomes their voice, advocacy, and contributions toward strengthening the work of the Association. 

 In order to maintain formal status, each caucus must submit the names of up to two co-chairs and a roster of current members at the end of each annual meeting. Chairs are responsible for convening the caucus and maintaining formal status. They should be selected by the caucus members on an annual basis and in a manner agreed to by a majority of those participating.

New Bylaw 12:


There shall be a Committee on Committee composed of six members, three of whom are elected by the members on each annual ballot from a slate of not less than five nor more than seven candidates proposed by the Council, in addition to nominations by petition. Candidates may be paired. Members shall vote for three candidates. If they are paired, the nominee in each pair receiving the higher number of votes shall be elected. If they are not paired, the three candidates receiving the highest number of votes shall be elected. Members of the Committee on Committees shall serve for two years until their successors are announced at the annual meeting of the Association immediately following the election.


2021 OHA Conference Welcome

By Amy Starecheski, OHA Vice-President
Sara Sinclair and Nikki Yeboah, Program Co-Chairs
August 2021 Newsletter

In October 2021, the Oral History Association will gather for our first-ever PLANNED virtual meeting. Doesn’t it feel nice, at least compared to 2020, to be able to make plans in advance? Kind of?

While we will miss many things about gathering in person, our team is having a great time making the most of the opportunities that come with gathering online–especially in terms of access. The conference will be affordable–free if you volunteer, as low as $40 for student OHA members and $50 for non-members. We will have live automatic transcription of all events and ASL interpretation for all plenaries and on-demand for parallel sessions.

We also know that access requires more than this. We want this conference to be accessible to non-academics, to our narrators, to people with all kinds of learning styles, to those who have historically been marginalized within the field. So we are creating a mandatory pre-conference training for all presenters and chairs on how to give an accessible, inclusive and engaging presentation and how to facilitate an inclusive conversation. Stay tuned for more details on this in September.

We will kick the conference off with weekend workshops on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 9 and 10, and then offer four days of programming, Oct. 11-14. Each day will have three main time slots for parallel sessions or plenaries, timed so that they work for time zones throughout the Americas, with generous breaks in between. We will not be having the usual receptions but will be providing lots of other opportunities to gather and socialize. The platform we are using, Pheedloop, makes it easy to chat with other participants, individually or in small groups. There will be “birds of a feather” sessions for those who share an identity or experience to gather.

And we are working hard to make sure that the regular conference sessions are places where you can connect, not just tune in. Mini-workshops, campfire sessions and others will be interactive spaces for dialogue. Some sessions will close with an invitation to join the participants for a more informal chat or a meal afterwards, and participants will host small, informal online gatherings for a meal, coffee or cocktail (depending on your time zone!). We also know that one of the benefits of attending a conference online is being able to listen in while cooking dinner, taking a walk or caring for children, so we’ll be sure to label “cameras off” sessions that lend themselves to more passive participation.

There will even be opportunities to gather in person in some locations. For example, oral historians in Hawai’i have organized a satellite conference where they will gather in person and also stream their sessions for others. In September we will offer one more opportunity to sign up to host local in-person gatherings like watch parties, meals or outings in connection with the conference.

We look forward to seeing you in October!

President’s Letter

By Dan Kerr
August 2021 Newsletter

             As we near the end of August, the OHA Executive Office, the program committee for the annual conference, the Council and our standing committees and taskforces are very busy completing work as we near our annual meeting, “Moving Stories,” this October. As I near the end of my term of president, it has become clear to me that we have our own moving story to tell.

In the past three years, I have had the privilege to witness the commitments, the dedication and effort that many people have made to advance the work of the association and the field of oral history. Witnessing the collectivity of this effort during the extraordinary time that we have lived through and continue to live in is truly awe inspiring.

When it became clear that we would need to cancel last fall’s in-person meeting, I was not alone in my fear that OHA faced a looming catastrophe. If I knew then that we would not be meeting in person in 2021 either, there is no way I could have imagined the level of resilience the OHA would demonstrate and the growth it would undergo throughout this crisis. That growth and resilience was by no means a foregone conclusion. It was only possible because of the time, effort and creativity that so many people have dedicated to the OHA during the pandemic.

This activity and stability have only been possible because of the solid foundation countless committed members of the association have constructed over our 55-year history.  Together we have built something extraordinary that none of us ever could have conceived of on our own.

Last fall OHA members passed a visionary new strategic plan that has shaped our work over the current year:

To put this plan in motion, Council formed the Restructuring Taskforce led by Tomás Sandoval and Cynthia Tobar. Since last November they have carefully reviewed our organizational structure, and in June they presented to Council a series of recommended changes.  I expect that Council will endorse their recommendations this month, and we will ask our members to approve changes to our bylaws at this fall’s business meeting.

The taskforce is recommending that we establish a standing Development Committee, charged with planning for our long-term economic sustainability. To achieve the advocacy goals defined in our strategic plan, the taskforce is proposing to establish an Advocacy Committee.  To enhance our year-round programming, workshops and webinars, the taskforce is suggesting the creation of a standing committee (the name of which is still under discussion) to oversee this work. To coordinate the membership of these committees, the proposal calls for forming a Committee on Committees.

The standing committees will oversee the ongoing work of the OHA that needs to be done year in and year out. For projects that are not ongoing, we will continue to rely on the taskforce structure – committees that dissolve upon completion of the work.

The Restructuring Taskforce also is proposing a new category of participation, member- formed and -led caucuses, which will be formally recognized by the OHA. The caucuses, formed from the bottom up by members who hold a shared interest, identity or other commonality, will, we hope, foster community and inclusivity and create spaces for building mutually beneficial relationships.

I believe these recommendations will allow us to be more responsive, inclusive and transparent as the OHA to evolve.

In July the OHA publicly announced its search for a new Executive Office, which we hope will succeed our current Executive Office on Jan. 1, 2023.  The search is being led by Kelly Navies, Zaheer Ali and LuAnn Jones.

Kris McCusker, Louis Kyriakoudes, and Faith Bagley have done a terrific job overseeing the Executive Office since 2018.  After next year they will have completed their five-year commitment, and they will leave us in a great position for growth.  Stephen Sloan, who chairs our current Development Taskforce, recently produced a chart demonstrating how important the executive office structure has been to our endowment’s growth, which is an indicator of our long-term economic sustainability. The chart notes when the first Executive Office was created at Georgia State University, followed by the move to Middle Tennessee State University.

The Executive Office has also enabled us to expand our membership numbers and the levels of membership participation.  Acknowledging the value of Executive Office for the OHA, the Council has agreed to increase our commitment to the next Executive Office by $20,000 to a total of $70,000.  Please consider submitting a proposal or encouraging someone else to submit a proposal to help lead the OHA over the coming years in an Executive Office capacity.

In July, Council approved a recommendation from the Diversity Committee, chaired by Anna Kaplan and Daisy Herrera, that the OHA form an Equity Audit Taskforce to further our strategic goals with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

This new taskforce will lead a sweeping and introspective audit of OHA’s past, current and future commitments to DEI in all facets of its operation. The audit will assess OHA’s track record of achieving “the meaningful involvement of historically-marginalized populations, in particular based on race/ethnicity, spiritual beliefs, gender, sexuality, class, educational background, and ability,” while remaining open to additional inequities and fault lines that the audit reveals.  The taskforce will work closely with our members over the next two years to as it undertakes this audit.

The Independent Practitioners Taskforce, chaired by Sarah Dziedzic and Jess Lamar Reece Holler, is nearing completion of a suite of materials for all our members, especially those working as non-salaried professionals. These resources will include an Independent Practitioners’ Toolkit (a guide to navigating the field of independent oral history practice for freelancers), an Oral History Practitioner’s Directory (to promote networking connections and job opportunities) and an Advocacy Statement (a statement of support drafted for an audience of hiring organizations that recommends baseline best practices and ethics for working with freelance oral history practitioners).  Council in July approved funding to develop the new directory.

In July, the Social Justice Taskforce, chaired by Nishani Frazier and Cliff Mayotte, presented a draft Summary and Recommendations Report for Council feedback.  The report presents new ethical and procedural frameworks for practitioners working with vulnerable communities in a social justice context.  Calling for a narrator-centered approach to oral history, the taskforce recommends practices that lead to deep community collaboration and power sharing and proposes new models of rolling consent. The taskforce will continue to seek feedback on their work over the coming months.

The OHA thrives on our members’ activity and contributions of all sorts. You can help shape the association with your time, creativity and money.  On Aug. 25, we will hold our Annual Day of Giving. With this campaign, we are seeking to further build our endowment with the longer-term goal of reaching $1,000,000.  A larger endowment will allow us to invest in the advancement of the field of oral history and will help propel the OHA forward. Would you join me in contributing to this campaign?

Contribute now at

Together we have built the Oral History Association, and through our ongoing contributions we can help ensure that the association and the field will continue to thrive well into the future.

OHA 2021 Day of Giving: August 25

This year’s Annual Day of Giving will go toward helping OHA’s endowment reach $1 million. The endowment helps pay for scholarships to the Annual Meeting; helps us stage webinars and other professional outreach and education; allows us to support other oral history organizations like the International Oral History Association; helps support new initiatives like strategic planning. And most of all, a strong endowment ensures a strong financial future for OHA so that it can continue its support and leadership for oral history work.

Donate Here:

Call for Proposals: Assessing the Role of Race and Power in Oral History Theory and Practice

June 2022
Convened by the Ad Hoc Group for Transformative Oral History Practice* in
collaboration with the Oral History Association and the Oral History Center at UC

It has been just over one year since a White police officer murdered George Floyd, sparking the largest call for racial justice in this country in a generation. Support for Black Lives Matter reached an all-time high in June 2020, with nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults holding a favorable opinion of the movement, and support spilling over to all corners of the globe. White Americans also helped take down Confederate monuments and bought books on antiracism in record numbers while corporations pledged millions of dollars to social justice organizations and causes. One year later, however, commemorations of Floyd’s life and legacy asked:  “What’s changed since?”

We acknowledge that “Assessing the Role of Race and Power in Oral History Theory and Practice” is taking place amid revitalized demands for understanding – and changing – the systemic racism that enabled a White police officer to murder a Black citizen in daylight without seeming fear of repercussions. But it is also taking place at a time of fierce backlash to any understanding of the oppressive forces that enabled Floyd’s murder. At the time of this writing, some state legislatures have passed laws banning the teaching of critical race theory, even as a majority of states seek to suppress the Black vote and overturn our elections.  Recent events such as these are causing many to evaluate the role of structural racism and White supremacy in the arts and humanities, including the practice of oral history. 

Building on an enthusiastically received panel that asked “Is Oral History White?” at the 2020 Oral History Association annual meeting, participants in that session (calling ourselves the Ad Hoc Group for Transformative Oral History Practice), in collaboration with the Oral History Association and the Oral History Center at UC Berkeley, are convening a symposium that will define, identify, analyze, assess, and imagine alternatives to conventional practices, prevailing ideologies, and institutional structures of oral history in the United States and Canada, as they pertain to historic and current forms of systemic racial discrimination. In essence, the symposium is moving beyond the question the 2020 panel asked – “Is Oral History White?” – to interrogate broader structures and dynamics of race and racialized thinking in oral history. 

We are inviting proposals from oral historians and others involved in fieldwork-related interviewing practices, as well as critical race and Whiteness theorists, to submit proposals for symposium papers that pose major questions and offer precise assessments of racial constructs as a factor in all phases of oral history work: project design, research processes, financial and budgetary matters, fieldwork and community relations, interviewing, archival practices, and public presentation and interpretation of narrative materials. 

The “Assessing the Role of Race and Power in Oral History Theory and Practice” symposium will take place via Zoom Webinar over a three-day period in June 2022. We expect to convene approximately thirty-five presenters, spread over six to eight sessions of two hours each. With the assistance of a moderator and/or one or more discussants, session presenters will summarize and discuss pre-circulated papers posted on a conference website, which will have also been made available to registered attendees in advance of the symposium. Symposium sessions will allow time for audience questions and comments, vetted and synthesized via the Zoom Webinar “Q&A” function by the session moderator. This format will allow for especially robust and probing discussion during sessions. 

This symposium should present a significant opportunity for audience members to reflect personally upon the charged subject of race in oral history in a pedagogically constructive way. Discussions of racialized experience and representations in our field will raise not only important insights but also strong emotions. We expect our audience to have a vast range of racial identities and relationships – including but not limited to Whiteness and Blackness – and varying degrees of experience reflecting upon that. We therefore plan to set shared expectations for constructive conversation rooted in mindful awareness, good faith engagement, and emotional maturity at the very beginning of the symposium and to create opportunities for small-group discussion and individually tailored self-reflection over the duration of the symposium. We hope that the symposium’s virtual nature, with participants in the relative privacy and comfort of their own homes, will contribute to this aspect of the symposium experience. Above all, we plan to keep discussion focused on practical applications of whatever theoretical and conceptual insights into race in oral history our symposium may furnish.

Intended outcomes include publication of revised versions of selected conference papers in an edited volume and a white paper assessing OHA’s racialized history, practices, and programs, to be developed by symposium organizers. Organizers, in cooperation with OHA’s Equity Task Force and Diversity Committee, will also create and promulgate guidelines for racial equity in oral history.

Pending receipt of grant monies, we hope to provide honoraria for symposium presenters.

Proposal Information 

Each proposal should include a title, an abstract of no more than 500 words, and a short biographical statement of no more than 300 words. Include your name, institutional affiliation if relevant, mailing address, email address, and phone number. The abstract must outline the research that you either have conducted or intend to conduct in support of your proposed presentation, the sources that you have consulted or will consult, and the collections in which you have conducted or will conduct research. While we anticipate that most proposals will be for a single paper, we welcome proposals for full sessions, also – to include 3-5 papers, moderator and discussant/s. We also welcome inquiries from individuals interested in serving as a session moderator or discussant to include a brief statement of interest and a short summary of work in oral history. Proposals are due November 1, 2021. (See below for more information.)

Some questions and themes we expect symposium participants may address include:

(Please note that we are open to other related questions and explorations.)

Whiteness and White Supremacy

  • How should Whiteness be defined, and how do the deep structures and conventions of our practice reflect Whiteness, structural racism, and White supremacy?
  • How might an interrogation of unexamined Whiteness be brought to bear on work in oral history? This might be done by assessing a past project or the curation of an existing collection or by considering the planning and implementation of a project currently under development. (Note: While we welcome case studies that audit specific projects, we would also like to see papers go beyond that.) 
  • How has work that has drawn upon existing collections reproduced racialized assumptions? 
  • What are some examples of projects that handled or represented racial dynamics, including Whiteness, in a creative, antiracist, or otherwise generative way?

Non-Western perspectives and approaches

  • What has oral history learned from Indigenous, African American and other perspectives and approaches that fall outside the dominant Western paradigm?
  • What patterns do we see in our own work that can be traced to BIPOC origins and models? What do these BIPOC origins and models have to teach us about the pitfalls of Whiteness and White Supremacy? 
  • How might specific insights, both theoretical and methodological, generated by the field of Critical Race Studies, help guide practical approaches to oral history? 
  • How and in what circumstances has oral history operated against the grain of prevailing racial assumptions?
  • What can oral historians learn about power dynamics and reflexivity from research in the field of trauma studies?

Invisible Architecture

  • How have the institutional and organizational structures underlying work in oral history been racialized? How has the way oral history has been funded and otherwise supported contributed to unintentional racial bias? How has the “history from below” approach perpetuated these biases? And how do White interviewers themselves perpetuate bias?
  • Over its fifty-plus year history, how has the work of the Oral History Association been racialized or reflective of broader patterns of White supremacy? In what ways and to what effect has the association functioned as a gatekeeper for oral history and oral historians, including some practitioners, practices, and work, excluding others, through its various products and programs such as the Principles and Best Practices, annual meeting, and publication of the Oral History Review? How has the association addressed racial issues over time, to what effect? 
  • When and where is it appropriate for oral historians to think beyond our individual projects and consider the role of the institutions we work for in order to tackle structural racism?

Oral history and current events

  • How are oral historians and the institutions and organizations with which we are affiliated responding to the current political moment? How might we respond more effectively?
  • Oral history is by its nature a civic enterprise and a medium for public engagement. How can oral history mobilize anti-racist constituencies, create dialogue around difficult issues, and/or influence public opinion or policy?
  • What are the limits of oral history in combating structural racism?

The deadline for proposal submissions is October 1  November 1.

Notification of acceptance: On or about December 15.

Submit proposals to:

In the subject line of your email, please write, “Last Name Symposium Proposal Submission” and send to: MOC.L1638800017IAMG@1638800017YROTS1638800017IHLAR1638800017OEVIT1638800017AMROF1638800017SNART1638800017. Proposals should be sent as an attachment in Word or PDF formats and not in the body of the email. Please include a cover page with your name, contact information, and brief bio.

Questions may be directed to:


Final papers should be submitted no later than April 15, 2022 in order to post them on the conference website for distribution  to conference attendants by May 1, 2022

Final papers should be between 5,000 and 7,000 words and include a bibliography. 

Submit final papers to: 

In the subject line of your email, please write, “Last Name Symposium Paper Submission” and send to:  MOC.L1638800017IAMG@1638800017YROTS1638800017IHLAR1638800017OEVIT1638800017AMROF1638800017SNART1638800017. Proposals should be sent as an attachment in Word or PDF formats and not in the body of the email. Please include a cover page with your name, contact information, and brief bio.

 *The Ad Hoc Group for Transformative Oral History is composed to date of the five panelists who contributed to the OHA’s 2020 conference session, “Is Oral History White?” – Benji de la Piedra, Jessica Douglas, Kelly E. Navies, Linda Shopes and Holly Werner-Thomas.


OHA 2021 Annual Meeting Registration is now open!

Registration for the 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting is now open. The conference will take place October 9-14.

2021 Conference Fees:
OHA Member with Institutional Support…$75
OHA Member Independent Scholar … $50
OHA Student Member… $40
Non-member… $120
Non-member Student… $50

The complete program  is available here (All times are listed in Eastern Time). For a refresher of what the different session types are, please see the Call for Proposals.

The descriptions of the pre-conference workshops are available here. This year workshop fees will be on a tiered scale, so feel free to pay as much or as little as you are able.

See our website for more 2021 Virtual Meeting details and for information about signing up as a volunteer.

2021 Virtual Meeting Details

***All times listed on the PDF of the Preliminary Schedule are in the Eastern Time Zone. ***


For this year’s annual meeting we are using a virtual event platform called Pheedloop. Pheedloop will work similarly to the platform we used last year in that it will be the gateway to accessing all the conference content. In addition to having the schedule of sessions, we’ll have an Exhibit Hall and Poster Session where attendees will be able to engage with exhibitors and presenters through text and video chat. Attendees will also be able to chat with other attendees one on one. The platform has Zoom integration, which should streamline joining and switching between sessions, and allows attendees to create a personal schedule of sessions. It also has accessibility adjustments, which allows attendees to adjust settings like font size,  color contrast and saturation, etc., and can optimize profiles for vision impairment, ADHD, and more. Pheedloop will adjust the times of the program schedule to the attendees’ time zone.

Conference registrants will receive a virtual event invite in their email from Pheedloop shortly before the conference. This invite will have the link and login information to access the virtual event platform. We’ll also have instructions on how to update personal information and navigate the platform.

Poster Session and Exhibit Hall

This year the poster session and exhibit hall will be integrated into Pheedloop. Attendees will be able to browse them anytime during the conference, but we’ll also have times built into the schedule so attendees can chat with the people at each “booth.”


For the regular sessions, OHA has acquired a package of professional Zoom licenses so that we can host and manage ten simultaneous sessions.  The expectation is that presenters will present their materials live and that there will be live engagement with the audience following the presentations. Our goal is to have at least one volunteer per session, who will edit the automated third-party transcript. If possible, we ask that the chair of the session host the meeting, but if they are not comfortable with that, then we will have another volunteer present. Panelists and speakers will also share their visual slides live through Zoom screen share. For the most part, the panels will run very similarly to how we would run our panels in a live conference format.

Attendees will join the Zoom sessions directly through Pheedloop, though there is an option to join traditionally as well if there are any problems (with a link and passcode).


We have developed a strategy to make this the most accessible OHA conference to date.  The plenaries and business meeting will have live ASL translation.  All sessions (not including Zoom breakout rooms) will have an automated transcript, and we are working to develop a list of volunteers to edit those transcripts before posting the recording.  We have provided guidance to presenters so that they can develop accessible visual presentations. Presenters will also be able to upload any presentation materials to the virtual event platform.

If there is a way we can make your conference experience more accessible, please email us at gro.y1638800017rotsi1638800017hlaro1638800017@aho1638800017.

Recorded Sessions

We will record all sessions unless panelists explicitly opt out. If even one panelists opts out, then the whole panel will not be recorded. All attendees will be notified upon entering a session that the session is being recorded and that their participation within the session will be recorded.  These recordings will be posted along with the transcripts.  These recordings will be accessible only to those who are registered for the conference.  Conference attendees will be able to view sessions scheduled alongside one another and will be able to watch the sessions regardless of what time zone they live in.  Pre-conference workshops will also be recorded, but those recordings will only be accessible to those registered for that workshop.

To opt out of being recorded, please fill out this presenter survey:



Search for New OHA Host Institution and/or Executive Director

The Oral History Association (OHA), the principal organization of practicing oral historians in the United States, is seeking a host institution and/or executive director beginning January 1, 2023. 

Since it’s founding, the OHA was run by an Executive Secretary, but the organization decided to go to an Executive Office model in 2011. The first Executive Office was at Georgia State University from 2012-2017. The five year term of the current Office at Middle Tennessee State University ends in December of 2022.

Therefore, the Executive Office Search Committee has published an Invitation to Submit a Letter of Interest. For the full RFP, please see this link:

The Search Committee is committed to working with prospective applicants as they prepare Letters of Interest. Please feel free to contact Search Committee Chair Lu Ann Jones (vog.s1638800017pn@se1638800017noj_n1638800017naul1638800017) and committee members Kelly E. Navies (ude.i1638800017s@kse1638800017ivan1638800017) and Zaheer Ali (moc.i1638800017laree1638800017haz@l1638800017iam1638800017) to indicate your intent to pursue this opportunity and to address any questions you may have. Initial expressions of interest are due October 15, 2021.

Nominating Committee employs new approach to elections

By Nishani Frazier and Nikki Pombier, Nominating Committee Co-Chairs

Some of the members of the Nominating Committee are relatively new to OHA, although they are not new to oral history. As new members, we embraced different strategies for enhancing the OHA structure, in part because we were not informed by or obligated to older models. We asked questions, we considered other possibilities, and we were motivated to help OHA reach its stated goals in the strategic plan.

We approached the process differently for multiple reasons.

First, prior applicants had expressed confusion and even disappointment regarding the lack of transparency and broader participation. How did one get “picked” for consideration? Why was it person A and B? And what happened to candidate C? Incorporating all candidates bolstered transparency and avoided the implication that council service required “insider” status versus work in the field and good ideas.

Second, some felt the process was quite insular and dependent on the contact list of the Nominating Committee. This created a limited pool on multiple levels and stymied broader participation among both members and oral historians outside OHA. We felt that changing how we conducted the process served to build the organization and membership. It also increased OHA’s profile with other organizations where oral historians find homes external to OHA. The Association for the Study of African American Life serves as one example, where oral historians of the black experience were more likely to present their work and who might be brought into the OHA community.

Third, the Nominating Committee was particularly concerned with continuity and sustainability. The multiple candidates provided OHA members with an increased, inclusive selection of potential candidates for the open positions on council and for vice president-elect. But it could also serve as a pool for council and the president for populating other committees with diverse candidates whose demonstrated interest in engaging with the organization ought not be overlooked. The Nominating Committee in previous years faced some difficulty with locating candidates because those who did not transition to the council felt disinclined to be “on the rollercoaster” again. This resulted in a talent loss.

Fourth, the ballot acts as one of the few places of exposure and introduction. Candidates who transition to committees can enter OHA and avoid the questions which sometimes emerge regarding their background or standing in the profession. This is also important because many oral historians outside of the OHA structure feel disaffected by the constraints and presumptions of professional status–independent oral historians are one example.

We believe that the Nominating Committee has an important role to play in tackling the system-wide challenges the strategic plan hopes to address. In the first year of experimental outreach we were able to generate a strong slate of candidates. What we hope to do is turn this new process into forward momentum that expands and maximizes diversity throughout the OHA by reaching out to a broader constituency–especially those most excluded and disaffected by the traditional OHA structure.

The increased pool is an opportunity for OHA to highlight the work of all oral historians in or out of the organization, mentor new leadership, improve transparency and create continuity and sustainability for OHA leadership.

There are many within and external to OHA who would gladly serve the organization. The Nominating Committee believes that we can welcome those persons by simply opening the door.