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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,, as that will be our most reliable method of communication.

Thank you!
OHA Staff

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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 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!

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The Call for Papers for OHA 2020 has been extended!

“The Quest for Democracy: One Hundred Years of Struggle

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

The submission portal for conference proposals is closed.

The new deadline is February 17, 2020. Please note that you will have to create a new account, even if you have submitted conference proposals in the past or are a member of the organization.

Remember to refer to our the Call for Papers and our Submission Guidelines pages for more information.

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Letter to the IOHA

In October, 2019, a member of the Oral History Society (OHS) shared with the OHA Council a letter written by the OHS’s LGBTQ Special Interest Group regarding the International Oral History Association’s (IOHA) 2020 conference in Singapore. This letter brings up important issues regarding locations for any association’s annual meeting, and how the sites selected impact who reasonably can attend. In particular, the letter highlights Singapore’s history of criminalizing same-sex relationships and the dilemma LGBTQ people, and their allies, face in deciding whether to travel to Singapore for the meeting.

Choosing conference locations is indeed a challenge. Issues like labor disputes at conference hotels require associations to be careful, forward thinking, and empathetic when deciding where an annual meeting is held. Additionally, in the United States, discriminatory laws in multiple states prompted the California State Legislature to enact Assembly Bill 1887, which prohibits state-funded or state-sponsored travel to states which discriminate “against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.” Currently eleven states are on this list, and the OHA chooses not to hold annual meetings in any of these locations. From an international perspective, given this landscape, it would be reasonable for people to decline to travel to the U.S.

Which is to say, though currently there may not exist a perfect location for an annual meeting, we must do good-faith work to choose meeting locations that welcome all those who make up the oral history community. The OHA supports the OHS’s LGBTQ Special Interest Group in asking the IOHA to make clear to potential attendees Singapore’s laws around same-sex relationships, as well as to be more thorough in its future site selection.

We respect OHA member’s individual decisions to attend, or not attend, the IOHA’s meeting in Singapore. In support of LGBTQ people and their allies who do choose to attend, the OHA will reach out to LGBTQ organizations in Singapore working to make the country safer for LGBTQ people to offer our support. Looking forward to the next IOHA meeting, the OHA will also request its 2022 contribution to the IOHA be used for LGBTQ programming.

Finally, we thank the Oral History Society’s LGBTQ Special Interest Group for their leadership and guidance on this issue.

OHA Council

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Executive Director’s Report

By Kristine McCusker

            Why does the OHA choose a specific conference site? What’s a food and beverage budget? Why can’t we hold our conference in Tennessee (or Alabama or Mississippi or Iowa)? 

            After each conference, we get suggestions regarding where to hold our next conference, and I thought it might be useful for the Executive Office to describe how we go about choosing our conference sites. 

            First, we work with a meetings procurement organization called Helms Briscoe. Our representative, Katherine, knows our organization well and works hard to find us places that we can both afford and that we might enjoy visiting. 

            Second, we look for hotel/conference spaces that have food and beverage (F/B) budgets within our budget. The Council recently approved an increase in the amount we are required to spend on food and beverage from $20,000 to $30,000. To give you some comparison, the Organization of American Historians’ F/B budget is anywhere from $65,000 to $85,000 for a Tier 1 city like San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia or New York City.

            Third, this minimum F/B then waives any room fees the hotel might charge for the various social spaces and breakout rooms for presentations. We are also required to sell a certain number of hotel rooms, and so we appreciate it when members stay at the conference hotel whenever possible.

            Third, we look for spaces that are interesting and are walkable. Our membership likes to walk, so we look for cities that are fun to walk around and have lots of local restaurants.

            Fourth, we cannot hold conferences in 11 states that have passed absurd bathroom bills or similar anti-LGBTQ laws. Beyond being an offense to our members and potentially dangerous to LGBTQ scholars (the most important consideration here), several states, including California, will not reimburse state employees who travel to conferences in these states. Together, the states with such travel bans constitute more than 20% of our membership. The banned states include the ones mentioned above as well as South Dakota, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, Texas and Kansas.

            Have other questions about conference site selection? Have ideas for us to consider when searching sites? Feel free to contact me at or my co-Executive Director, Louis Kyriakoudes at We’d love to hear from you.

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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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