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Chinese and Spanish Translations of the OHA’s Principles and Best Practices Now Available!

The Principles and Best Practices Documents are now available in Spanish and Chinese! The documents are linked in the Principle and Best Practices suite of documents:

Thank you to Denise Amparan, Administrative Assistant, and Vianey Alejandra Zavala, Manager of the University of Texas at El Paso Institute of Oral History, for completing the Spanish translation of the documents:

Thank you to Lili Wang (North China Electric Power University), Xiaofan Liu and Chenxi Gu ( Communication University of China) for completing the Chinese translation of the documents. And thank you to Bin Liu (North China Electric Power University) and Xiaoyan Li (Cui Yongyuan Center for Oral History, Communication University of China) for editing the translation: 

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Wanted! A New OHA Treasurer

The Oral History Association is searching for a new Treasurer.

Job Duties include:

Collaboratively with the Executive Office, the Treasurer will help create an annual budget for the OHA. The Treasurer will render an opinion about various practical financial matters, for example, the choice of tax accountants and various bank programs. The treasurer will have signing ability on all checking, saving and investment accounts. The Treasurer will ensure that GAP accounting principles and other good financial practices are used by the Executive Office. Once a year, the Treasurer shall review the records of the Executive Office, the investments and investment policies of the board, and the annual financial review of the association, and shall report to the Council on these matters. 

The Treasurer is appointed for a 6-year term and is approved by the Council, upon nomination by the President. The Treasurer may be appointed for a second term, upon approval by the Council.


The Treasurer must be a member in good standing in the organization and is considered an ex-officio member of the Council. The Treasurer will also serve as the chair of the Finance Committee. We hope that the Treasurer might have accounting experience in some capacity that is directly applicable to overseeing the OHA’s finances, but are willing to consider applicants who are detail-oriented, consistent and able to evaluate budgets.


  1. $2000/year, payable quarterly upon receipt of an invoice
  2. Reimbursement of all OHA related expenses, e.g. office supplies, phone charges, etc.
  3. Reimbursement of travel expenses to the Annual Meeting

Please send a letter of interest and a resume to gro.y1618944986rotsi1618944986hlaro1618944986@aho1618944986. Position is open until filled.

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2020 OHA Award Winners

Article Award

Henry Greenspan’s article, “The Humanities of Contingency: Interviewing and Teaching Beyond “Testimony” with Holocaust Survivors,” [Oral History Review 46:2(Summer/Fall, 2019), 360-379] contributes to socio/historical inquiry goes beyond the collection of testimonies from Holocaust survivors. Greenspan’s call to engage with testimony beyond the collection of experiences takes the practice of oral history into an even more dynamic practice where the actual people become 3D characters. It calls for an engagement with the people with the stories and even the reader’s or interviewer’s own positionality or understanding of the topic.

Book Award

The Oral History Association Book Award committee enthusiastically names Nepia Mahuika’s exceptional book Rethinking Oral History and Tradition: An Indigenous Perspective as the winner of the 2020 prize. We also wish to recognize Jacquelyn Dowd Hall’s, Sisters and Rebels: A Struggle for the Soul of America, with an honorable mention. In addition to embodying the very best in the practice of oral history, both books were inspiring to read in this unsettling time.

Rethinking Oral History and Tradition provokes a thoroughgoing decolonization of our conception of the field of oral history by demonstrating that indigenous oral accounts are oral history. Focusing on a case study of the Maori in Aotearoa, New Zealand, the book confronts a longstanding problem: the condescending and dismissive stance of non-indigenous professional oral historians and other scholars, who have relegated Maori oral accounts to the realm of myth rather than respecting indigenous practices as legitimate forms of oral history. Drawing on sixty interviews he conducted within his tribe (Ngāti Porou), Mahuika recasts oral history as a dynamic, organic, and multi-generational exchange within indigenous cultures that takes place within the context of people’s daily lives. He shows that a lack of attention to the nuance of language partly explains why Maori oral accounts have been relegated to the realm of “oral tradition” and discounted in the reconstruction of Maori history.  Scholars simply did not understand the significant role metaphors play in their language. Ultimately, Mahuika’s elegant and refreshing book makes the case for not shoehorning an indigenous perspective into the existing field, but for totally reimagining and broadening the field of oral history.

Sisters and Rebels is a page-turner about two women’s complicated and noble mission to transform the region of their birth and the United States as a whole. Drawing on oral history interviews Hall conducted over the course of nearly fifty years, the book tells the individual and intertwined stories of three remarkable sisters from a former southern slaveowning family, Elizabeth, Grace, and Katherine Lumpkin. While Elizabeth clings to the Lost Cause ideology she imbibed in their youth, Grace and Katherine rebelled against and transcended the racism and mythology of their southern upbringing to fight for justice and women’s liberation. Sisters and Rebels is the work of a giant of the field that not only demonstrates Hall’s skill and sensitivity as an interviewer, but also restores readers’ faith that individuals can cast off the destructive ideologies of their childhoods to help transform society in meaningful ways.

Mason Multi-Media Awards

Refugee Boulevard: Making Montreal Home After the Holocaust creatively documents narrators’ stories through a survivor-led historical audio tour, and accompanying booklet and website available in French and English. Building on long-standing relationships with survivors, new multi-session interviews were conducted to connect stories of experiences from 1948 within neighborhood sites. The audiowalk features the voices of six War Orphans Project storytellers and the narrator, all of whom were Holocaust refugees. Voices are integrated with music and soundscapes that enhance the listener’s experience. The accompanying booklet is designed well and enriches the audiowalk with the map, historical photographs and text. Notably, the Refugee Boulevard project currently reaches the community through collaborative partnerships with two museums, as well as informs curriculum for teaching Canadian Studies and History at two Montreal universities. This beautifully conceived and executed project provides a great sense of the power of oral history for contributing to the historical record through community engagement.

Authors: Stacey Zembrzycki, Eszter Andor, Nancy Rabelo and Anna Sheftel

Voices of Virginia: An Auditory Primary Source Reader compiles oral histories across five decades and from twenty repositories into an open-access reader for high school and college students. The reader is organized well by topic, time period, and description, and offers easy links for downloading or listening to the seventy interview excerpts. The audio files were licensed through a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 4.0 license. Content in the Reader is aligned with the History and Social Science Standards for Virginia Public Schools. Section I includes transcripts, context, and discussion questions. Section II offers six lesson plans. This replicable project demonstrates the power of oral history, offers new ways to think about the state’s history through diverse voices of narrators, and broadens access to archived interviews.

Author: Jessica Taylor

The Wisconsin Farms Oral History Project: Lands We Share initiative showcased oral histories in a unique way with a traveling exhibition and community conversation tour at twelve venues throughout the state. Oral histories conducted at five farm sites were highlighted in the exhibit and radio series broadcasts. The stories encompassed some of Wisconsin’s rich cultural diversity and history, including the Oneida Indians, Hmong immigrants, agricultural wage laborers from Mexico and Laos, African-American community activists, and multi-generational German immigrants. Notably, the organizers extended the exhibit’s possibilities by including interactive elements for visitors at each community location, including a culmination farm dinner and conversation. The Lands We Share reached almost 3,000 exhibit visitors, 600 guests at community dinners, and over 100,000 radio listeners. Partnerships and collaborations with communities from the initial oral history project were extended from the Lands We Share initiative and have inspired subsequent oral histories and possibilities for curriculum development.

Author: Stephen Kercher

Postsecondary Teaching Award

Professor Ricia Anne Chansky’s Mi María: Puerto Rico after the Hurricane showed the strength of a dual language project that was fully transcribed and translated. The committee was impressed in the interdisciplinary approach to this subject matter at a primarily STEM focused institution. Her integration of oral history with this general education course through the Department of English creativity allowed a group of newly trained students to engage with the practice. The ongoing civic engagement with the community created a place for survivors to reflect and archive their collective memories. Professor Chansky provided the “ethics of care for my students” in these dire circumstances to facilitate this project. Students in turn found solace in their collective experience and rapport beyond the classroom assignment with their narrators. In these dire conditions with limited access to electricity, this project succeeded that marked our scores high in “civic or community component.” The standard of this collection sets a precedence for future collections at this and other institutions.

Emerging Crisis

Ricia Chansky’s “Mi María” project is a large-scale public humanities project that uses oral history and other biographical methodologies—contextualized in critical disaster studies and environmental humanities—to study the impacts of Hurricane María on the people of Puerto Rico while working to resituate the national narrative from stories about the people to those by the people. This new phase of the project, “Sheltered in Place,” works to understand connections between the climate emergency and the public health crisis of Covid-19 in marginalized and underserved communities that are disproportionately impacted by both. A secondary objective of this project is to devise methods for creatively listening to and circulating life stories in a time of necessitated physical distancing.

Sierra Holt’s project is to produce an oral history of the descendants of the community who live in or near Lambert Lands. Lambert Lands became the home of newly emancipated people from Bedford County, Virginia in 1843. After establishing their settlement, this group obtained a deed, built a church, and developed the oldest Emancipation celebration, which continues today. They also were a stopping point for those escaping slavery in the South.  Since its creation, the legacy of Lambert Lands has continued despite threats of violence from the Klu Klux Klan, growing poverty in Appalachia, and numerous drug epidemics.  To fully comprehend the history of this community, Holt will also research and interview distant relatives who hold knowledge of the community’s origins in Bedford County, Virginia. For preservation, the results of these interviews will be donated to a library or archive housed at an academic institution or museum, particularly one that is focused on Southern and/or Appalachian Black history.

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OHA’s 2020 Virtual Meeting: What to Expect

Thank you for your patience as the Program Committee, Local Arrangements Committee, Executive Office, and myself have worked tirelessly to develop the Oral History Association’s first virtual conference.  For a normal annual meeting, planning for the conference starts a year and a half before the actual gathering.   The first vice president forms the Program and Local Arrangements Committees, the program co-chairs draft the CFP and invite major speakers, and the Local Arrangements Committee strategizes ways the conference can effectively engage with the local community.  Normally, we would have let people know whether their proposals were accepted in April, scheduled the sessions in May, opened up registration in June, and sent out the full program in August. But as you know, this year has been anything but normal.

As things shut down in March, no one was certain what the impact would be on the conference, but we scrambled to make contingency plans, researched best practices for hybrid and virtual conferences, surveyed our members, and developed a plan and a budget for a virtual conference.  The Executive Office negotiated with the conference hotel and reached an agreement in late June to reschedule our conference there in 2023.  It was not until we were able to ensure that we would not take a devastating financial hit that we were able to fully commit to an all-virtual conference.  The OHA Council approved a budget for the virtual conference in late June, and from that point we started implementing our plans for our upcoming virtual conference with breakneck speed.

I believe we will have a very creative and robust virtual annual meeting that will enable us to continue to move the field forward and also develop the professional networks that are essential for sustaining our field.  We have reason to believe that we may have the largest number of people participating in our Annual Meeting than ever before.  While we usually have approximately 90 sessions at our conferences, this year we will have approximately 125 sessions.  Additionally, we will have over a dozen workshops and nearly a half-dozen free virtual tours for conference attendees.  Smithsonian Visionary Artist and MacArthur Fellow Joyce Scott will deliver the keynote address. Award winning radio producer Marc Steiner will conduct a live on-air interview with critically acclaimed author D. Watkins for our first plenary.  The second plenary features Toni Tipton Martin, an award-winning food and nutrition journalist who explores the relationship between cultural heritage, cooking, and social change.  The plenary sessions and keynote address will be live streamed from the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore and made publicly available.



From the earliest stages of planning the conference, we sought to ensure that we left Baltimore’s oral history practitioners in a better position as a result of our conference.  By the March shutdown, the Local Arrangements Committee had made significant progress organizing a large Oral History Block Party outside the Reginald F. Lewis Museum that would focus on the conference theme: The Quest for Democracy.  Sadly, that will not be able to happen.  But the committee has still worked hard to cultivate a local sensibility for the conference. The Reginald F. Lewis Museum has opened its doors to us to professionally film and livestream the plenaries and keynote address.  The Maryland Historical Society partnered with us to organize two oral history workshops for those who live, work, or go to school in the Baltimore region and Maryland.  Baltimore Heritage coordinated the development of five virtual tours of Baltimore that will be free of charge for all those registered for the conference. These tours will be accessed through our digital program platform Attendify.  As part of the Diversity Reception, we will hold a virtual dance party featuring Baltimore-based DJ James Nasty, who will highlight the importance and history of Baltimore House music. Pixstori is coordinating a series of local stories that will be featured in our digital program. Red Emma’s, a local worker-owned bookstore and café, will have a “shop” on Second Life, featuring books about Baltimore.  And the committee is organizing a series of virtual “dine-arounds,” informal get togethers that replicate a popular feature of past annual meetings. Perhaps most importantly, the Local Arrangements Committee is organizing a post-conference gathering that will explore the development of a collaborative of Baltimore-based oral history practitioners that can continue well after the meeting.  Together, we expect all these efforts will instill in our conference a sense of place even as we meet virtually.



The Program Committee has responded quickly to current events by developing sessions focusing on the COVID pandemic, virtual interviews, and Black Lives Matters protests.  They have reimagined the structure of a virtual conference by extending it two days and reducing the number of session time slots every day to three. On most days we will have ten simultaneous sessions in the late morning (Baltimore/Eastern time), a keynote or plenary address in the early afternoon, and a set of ten simultaneous sessions later in the afternoon.  Receptions will be held in the early evening located on our new Second Life Oral History Association island.



We have developed a strategy to make this the most accessible OHA conference to date.  The plenaries, keynote, and business meeting as well as several featured sessions 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 in real time.  We have provided guidance to presenters so that they can develop accessible visual presentations.  We will be asking that all presenters submit their presentations ahead of time so that they can be posted and viewed by attendees outside of Zoom.



People will navigate the conference by using Attendify, a virtual space where sessions will be organized, session materials such as PowerPoint presentations uploaded, and Zoom links posted.  After the sessions are complete, we will embed recordings and transcripts of those sessions in Attendify so that people can view them asynchronously.  Attendify offers chat features to network with other conference goers, and enables us to showcase our exhibitors, sponsors, and poster sessions.  Registered participants will be able to access the conference materials within Attendify through the summer of 2021.



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.  While we discourage the use of Zoom breakout rooms since there will be no live transcription in those rooms, mini workshops may have a need to use them.  Our goal is to have two volunteers in every session, one who will serve as the room host and one who will do live edits to the automated third-party transcript. While we have asked all presenters to submit their visual slides ahead of time (to be posted on Attendify), panelists and speakers will also share their visual slides live through Zoom screen share.  Room hosts will monitor the chat for relevant questions and comments, and chairs will call on attendees to offer up questions verbally as well.  For the most part, the panels will run very similarly to how we would run our panels in a live conference format.



While we drew upon a membership survey to determine which platform would be easiest for conference attendees to use for regular sessions (Zoom), we also wanted to develop a more playful way for conference attendees to network.  We have built an Oral History Association island on Second Life where conference attendees can gather during coffee breaks, the poster session, and receptions and communicate one on one, in small or large groups.  On Wednesday, October 21, at our a virtual dance party, you will be able to have your avatar dance much better than most of us can in real life.  Second Life also offers us the opportunity to have shopfronts for our vendors and signage that can promote our sponsors and a place for live synchronous conversations with poster presenters.  The Oral History Association island will be a bustling city that looks a bit like Baltimore might if it was governed and run by oral historians.  Second Life takes a little longer to get used to than Zoom, so we will be holding tours of the island weekly prior to the conference for all registrants.  You will need your own avatar and will have to set your name to the name you use when you register for the conference.  Only those registered for the conference will have access to the main part of the OHA island.



We will produce a .pdf of our traditional print program in order to provide attendees with the documentation they may need to get reimbursed for registration expenses.  The print program will also offer us a way to document the conference long after our licenses for various platforms expire and to recognize those who have worked to organize and support the conference.



We will record all sessions unless panelists explicitly opt out, which we highly discourage. The recordings will be akin to published conference proceedings.  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 daily along with the transcripts and shared through our digital program platform Attendify.  These recordings will be accessible only to those who are registered for the conference.  Conference attendees will now 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.

OHA will reach out to the participants in a select few sessions and seek permission to have those sessions publicly live streamed.  When granted permission, the recordings of these sessions will also be made freely available to the public. If you and all the participants in your session would like to have your panel be open access, please contact the OHA office.



We will host all our digital materials from the conference in Aviary, a cloud-based platform for publishing searchable audio and video content.  The conference collection will only be accessible to those registered for the conference except for the open access sessions mentioned above.



Pixstori will allow people to create talking pictures that they can use for personal profiles in Attendify.  The poster session presenters will also craft their own Pixstoris for their posters, and the Local Arrangements Committee is developing a Pixstori series on Baltimore.  We’re hoping conference attendees will find creative ways to use Pixstori throughout the conference to document this unique time in OHA’s history.

This year’s conference will forever be remembered for the way we came together in the midst of the crisis of the pandemic and the crisis of systematic racism.  The program is more relevant than ever as we address the relationship between Oral History and Democracy in the weeks before a pivotal Presidential election and 100 years following the passage of the 19th Amendment.  Now more than ever is the time to assess what is our role as oral historians.  Please join us for the Oral History Association’s Annual Meeting in 2020.



Dan Kerr
Vice President/President Elect, Oral History Association

P.S. We still have sponsorship opportunities and exhibitor space available. If you would like to be a sponsor or an exhibitor, please contact the OHA office at gro.y1618944986rotsi1618944986hlaro1618944986@aho1618944986.

We also need the help of an unprecedented number of volunteers, and we are especially looking to include people who would not normally attend the conference. Please help us recruit volunteers by sharing this link with them:




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2020 Annual Meeting Registration is Now Open

Online registration is now available for the 2020 Annual Meeting. You will need to use your Memberclicks account in order to register. If you don’t have an account, you will need to create one. ***Please make sure to select a type of registration on the form (i.e Member with Institutional Support, Member without Institutional Support, Student Member, Non-Member, or Non-Member Student) otherwise you will not actually be registered for the conference.

  • The program schedule is available here.
  • The descriptions of the pre-conference workshops are available here.

For more information, see our Annual Meeting Registration Page.

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The OHA’s Annual Day of Giving is August 26 – Help Secure the OHA’s Future in a Difficult Time

This year’s Annual Day of Giving will be August 26 and all donated funds will help sustain OHA’s endowment. 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. 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. You can support the OHA here:

Thank you!

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OHA Membership Feedback Wanted: Strategic Plan

The OHA has been working on a strategic planning process since 2019. At the 2019 Annual Meeting Council engaged in a planning retreat, and we held focus groups and one-on-one interviews with members. Taking all of this into account, at our Mid-winter Meeting in Feb 2020 Council developed the following mission, vision, values, goals and strategies.

We then paused our work to respond to the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our original intention was to continue to refine success indicators for each goal, create a timeline for implementation, and prioritize our strategies before sharing this document with committees and membership for feedback, but the ongoing uncertainty and heavy workload created by the pandemic has led us to decide to share this document now, as is.

We feel that this draft plan still provides a powerful framework for our work, even as we have shifted to unanticipated tasks such as preparing to hold meetings online and developing remote recording guidelines. We are sharing this for feedback now, so that we will be ready to prioritize strategies as short, medium and long term and develop an implementation plan later this year.

For our members: We invite you to read and respond to this draft, and begin to ponder how you as a member might contribute to implementing it, both in this time of crisis and in the medium to long term. We also ask you to consider how this plan serves you and all the members of the Oral History Association. In our recent Statement on the killing of George Floyd and solidarity with Black Lives Matter, we discussed the need to confront institutional racism in our institutions, and this work extends to the OHA itself. Though this strategic plan is not the only place we will describe and commit to anti-oppression work within our organization, it is important for us to address it here intentionally. So we ask you for particular feedback on the ways we’ve included diversity and inclusivity, how this may be lacking, and how we can improve and expand this work.


This initial phase of feedback will be open until August 9, 2020. Council will then review and integrate feedback from the membership and OHA committees and distribute a revised draft for membership approval in September.

Strategic Plan PDF:

Give feedback here:

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