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Annual Meeting Tours and Events



Topaz and the Memory of Japanese-American Internment in Utah

The internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry during WWII was one of the worst violations of civil rights against citizens in the history of the United States. The government and the US Army, falsely citing “military necessity,” locked up over 110,000 men, women and children in ten remote camps controlled by the War Relocation Administration and four male-only camps controlled by the Justice Department. Topaz, located 16 miles northwest of Delta in central Utah, was one of the former camps. Between September 11, 1942 to October 31, 1945, 11,212 men, women, and children passed through the prison camp, families living surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards while also trying to lead normal lives by attending makeshift schools and working in mostly agricultural jobs provided by the government. This tour will include the internment site, as well as a visit to the Topaz Museum in the town of Delta.

*This tour will be on Thursday, October 17, and it will cost $50. The tour will last from about 8am-5pm, and bus transportation is included in the cost. A boxed lunch will be provided upon request for an additional fee (see registration form). There is not an additional cost to visit the museum but attendees are encouraged to leave donations.

Keeping a Record: The LDS Church History Library and Archives

Nearly from its founding in 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has encouraged the production and preservation of history. The Church History Library, located across the street from historic Temple Square, is home to state-of-the-art facilities that hold and process historical documents, artifacts, photographs, and other records that document the history of the church, its members, and the Restoration Movement of which it was part. Come learn about the Church History Library’s purpose, the facility, and the types of records stored in the vaults from the Church History Library Director, Keith Erekson. Justin Bray, Chair of the Oral History Working Group, will then talk about the Church History Library’s approach to oral histories. Your visit will end by viewing the “Foundations of Faith” exhibit where key documents of the Church of Jesus Christ’s history is displayed.

*This tour will take place on Friday, October 18, 10am. If interested, please note that this tour will require a considerable amount of walking. Participants will meet in the hotel lobby and walk to the Church History Library, and will walk back.

The Struggles for Women’s Suffrage in Utah

In honor of 2020, the 150th anniversary of women in Utah legally casting the first votes since the suffrage movement, the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, the non-profit Better Days 2020 leads this two-hour tour of women’s suffrage sites in Salt Lake City. The tour features the struggles for women’s rights in Utah by exploring historic places such as the Council Hall, where the first women cast ballots in 1870, and their stories through generations.

*This tour will be on Saturday, October 19, and it will cost $35. The tour will last from about 9am-12pm, and bus transportation is included in the cost.

The Inland Sea: Antelope Island and the Great Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake looms large in the American imagination and experience. To many people it seems a landform of contradictions and extremes; its shallow, salty waters complement the perceived sterility of the desert basin that gives it form, yet the Lake’s edges—where land and water meet and fresh water mixes with salt—teem with life. From prehistory it has been home to some people, a distinctive landmark and curiosity to others, and the subject of intrigue and speculation. This tour will showcase the lake’s largest island, rich with history reaching back at least 3,000 years, from Native American hunter-gatherers to reportedly the oldest house on its original foundation in Utah. This guided tour of Antelope Island State Park will include discussions of the archaeological legacy of Antelope Island and the first European Americans to explore its shores, walks through the incredibly preserved Fielding-Garr Ranch, and views of the dramatic landscape.

*This tour will be on Sunday, October 20, and it will cost $50. The tour will last from about 7am-2pm, and bus transportation is included in the cost. A boxed lunch will be provided upon request for an additional fee (see registration form).

**** All tour times are subjective to changes


Keynote Lunch: Friday, October 18

Isabel Wilkerson
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
© Joe Henson 2008 All Rights Reserved

In her bestselling and award-winning masterwork, The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the greatest untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities in search of a better life. To this day we have barely understood the full impact of this movement that was driven not by one single leader, but by six million Americans seeking political asylum in their own country. This migration reshaped culture and politics, North and South, and set in motion the current racial challenges and disparities we now face as a country.


Pulitzer Prize winner and National Humanities Medalist Isabel Wilkerson is the author of The New York Times bestseller The Warmth of Other Suns, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

She has become an impassioned voice for demonstrating how history can help us understand ourselves, our country and our current era of upheaval. In her writing, Wilkerson brings the invisible and the marginalized into the light and into our hearts. In her lectures, she explores with authority the need to reconcile America’s karmic racial inheritance — a notion she has expressed in her widely-shared Op-Ed essays in The New York Times.

A gifted storyteller, Wilkerson captivates audiences with the universal story of migration and the enduring search for the American dream, the origins of our shared commonality. She draws a direct link between the leaderless revolution known as the Great Migration and the protest movements for social justice today, both of them responses to unacknowledged and unaddressed history.

Her major work, The Warmth of Other Suns, tells the true story of three people among the six million who made the decision of their lives during the Great Migration, a watershed in American history. Wilkerson spent 15 years working on Warmth, interviewing more than 1,200 people to tell what she calls one of the greatest underreported stories of the 20th Century. In addition to the National Book Critics Circle Award, the book won the Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Award for Nonfiction, the Lynton History Prize from Harvard and Columbia universities, and the Stephen Ambrose Oral History Prize and was shortlisted for both the Pen-Galbraith Literary Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

The Warmth of Other Suns became a New York Times and national bestseller. It was named to more than 30 Best of the Year lists, including The New York Times’ 10 Best Books of the Year, Amazon’s 5 Best Books of the Year, and Best of the Year lists in The New YorkerThe Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, among others. It made national news when President Obama chose the book for summer reading in 2011. In 2012, The New York Times Magazine named The Warmth of Other Suns to its list of the best nonfiction books of all time.

Wilkerson won the Pulitzer Prize for her work as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times in 1994, making her the first black woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first African-American to win for individual reporting in the history of American journalism.

She has lectured on narrative nonfiction at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University and has taught at Princeton, Emory and Boston universities. She has lectured at more than 200 other colleges and universities across the United States, Europe and in Asia. Her work has garnered seven honorary degrees, most recently from Bates College and Southern Methodist University. She has appeared on national programs such as CBS’s 60 Minutes, PBS’s Charlie Rose, NPR’s Fresh Air, NBC’s Nightly News, MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, and others.

In conferring Wilkerson the 2015 National Humanities Medal, the National Endowment for the Humanities honored her “for championing the stories of an unsung history. Her masterful combination of intimate human narratives with broader societal trends allows us to measure the epic migration of a people by its vast impact on our Nation and on each individual life.”


“Hearing Indigenous Voices: The Challenges and Rewards of Cultivating Relationships with Utah’s Native American Communities”

Historians and other scholars have built more expansive histories beyond the traditional focus on the Anglo experience by examining public lands through the prism of Indigenous peoples whose homeland the American West is. This requires a set of methodologies that many scholars—including some of the scholars on this session—did not start out using but have since come to rely on. Foremost is oral history, an approach ideal for culling out the on-the-ground voices too often missed on a reliance on documentary material alone. Based on a series of interviews and oral history experiences that scholars and community members have, this group of panelists reflect on the challenges of entering and engaging Indigenous communities not necessarily their own in the state of Utah, the importance of mutual exchange, the value of keeping promises and confidences, and the place of authentic interactions over scholarly output. They also consider what becomes of these interviews and oral histories when they are recorded and transcribed, primarily in terms of informing public conversations, whether as teaching curriculum in K-12 or as context for policy on land issues.

“Potholes in the Path: Navigating the Mishaps in Oral History”

Have you ever been in the middle of a heart-felt interview only to look down and realize your device isn’t recording? Or did you travel miles for an interview only to remember that you left your recorder at home? Join us for this session as we explore some of the bumps that may occur on the path with a panel titled “Potholes in the Path: Navigating the Mishaps in Oral History”. This session will feature oral historians from various backgrounds who will come together to share some of their mishaps with creating, conducting, and curating oral histories and share what was learned or lost with those experiences.


Welcome Reception

Please attend the opening reception at the Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel, on Wednesday, October 16. The reception marks the beginning of the 2019 Annual Meeting, a concurrent meeting of the Oral History Association and the Southwest Oral History Association.

Presidential Reception

Join OHA for their presidential reception at The Leonardo Museum, on Thursday, October 17. The reception will honor President Natalie Fousekis, as well as the recipients of the OHA’s annual awards. The Leonardo is a new kind of museum that celebrates genius in all its forms. The museum seeks to inspire curiosity and innovative thinking in visitors of all ages through hands-on activities, interactive learning experiences, and world-class exhibits.

International Reception

Join the OHA’s International Committee and the International Oral History Association for a reception at the Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel on Friday, October 18. The reception provides a good opportunity for international attendees to meet and network with each other.

Southwest Oral History Association Award Reception

Join SOHA for their award reception honoring the Mink awardee and scholarship recipients on Saturday, October 19, 2019 at the Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah. The recipients have been selected for their incredible commitment to oral history scholarship. Learn more about past awardees here:

Sunday Sendoff! 
October 20, 2019 , 9 – 11 a.m.

After spending days learning  about so many projects, tips, and new people, ever wonder how you can stay connected with oral historians in your area after OHA is over?

Join us Sunday morning before you fly out to learn about the regional oral history groups across the country. This event is the perfect opportunity to network with oral historians near you and become involved in your regional group.

Thinking about starting a group in your area? This is event is a great way to see what other regional groups are doing in order to get your group off to a good start!

Some of our regional organizations and affiliates include :

Canadian Oral History Association
Low Country Oral History Alliance
Michigan Oral History Association
Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region
Oral History in the Southeast
Southwest Oral History Association
Square States Oral History Association
Texas Oral History Association

Refreshments will be served!