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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.s1632496294pn@se1632496294noj_n1632496294naul1632496294) and committee members Kelly E. Navies (ude.i1632496294s@kse1632496294ivan1632496294) and Zaheer Ali (moc.i1632496294laree1632496294haz@l1632496294iam1632496294) 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.

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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.

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OHA Call for Posters is Open! Deadline July 15

The virtual poster session will provide an opportunity for informal, interactive presentations and discussions. This is a forum for exchanging innovative ideas, and for useful feedback and discussion on your work.

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 are a visual and interactive medium, so please provide some information about how the display will convey information visually and/or how you would like to engage visitors. 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 15, 2021. and submitters will be notified in August.

Virtual Poster Platform: We are using Pheedloop to host our online conference. Pheedloop has a robust virtual poster session tool, which allows you to share slides, video, or a single poster with conference attendees. We will have designated times when the poster session is “open” and presenters will be expected to be there live to interact with visitors via video and chat. Visitors will also be able to view posters asynchronously during and after the conference and leave messages or questions for presenters. Viewers have an opportunity to become acquainted with new work quickly and easily and have more time to study the information and discuss it with presenters. There is more time for one-to-one discussion with people interested in presenters’ research than in a typical panel session. Posters are often used to showcase a completed project, or to communicate ideas about research in progress.

For more information and to submit a proposal, see the full Call for Posters:

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OHA Award Nominations due July 1

The OHA’s 2021 award cycle is open and nominations are due July 1.

This year we are offering the following awards:

All open committee spots have been filled, and so make sure to get your applications in!

For more information:

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Co-Executive Directors Report

By Kristine McCusker
April 2021

            Curated highlights from the 2020 Oral History Association conference are now available on the organization’s website. This was funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities CARES Act grant that allowed us to host our conference virtually. Thanks to Faith Bagley and Anna Kaplan for their stellar work on the grant. Don’t forget that this fall’s conference October will again be virtual, but we look forward to seeing everyone face-to-face in Los Angeles in 2022.

We’ve been working with the new Development Task Force, shepherded by Stephen Sloan, to grow and mature on our fundraising abilities. We are pleased to see significant increases already in the endowment to ensure a firm financial foundation for OHA’s work.  We have also been integrating our new treasurer, Troy Reeves, more firmly into the Executive Office and into the organization’s finances so he can be a good steward of the organization’s resources.

Council meetings have been keeping the Executive Office busy. Like our conference, which has gone virtual, Council has also conducted our midwinter meetings virtually through February, March and April, planning for the OHA’s future. Meeting minutes will be posted soon for the membership to read.

We continue to appreciate the trust that the organization has put in us and it is an honor to promote oral history and the Oral History Association.

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President’s Column

By Dan Kerr
April 2021

             The Oral History Association is committed to following through on our core values, and I would like to focus on two of them (see our Strategic Plan for the other three):

Sustainability. We steward our field and organization to ensure that our work is valued and accessible.

            Transparency. We ensure transparent and participatory management of our association, accountable to all individuals and communities we serve.

In late February 2020, the OHA Council held an in-person midwinter meeting over a period of several days In Baltimore, Maryland.  During the meeting, we heard news reports of the first known COVID-19 death at that time in the United States. We had little understanding what was in store for us. More than a year later, we will shortly be wrapping up a series of virtual bi-weekly “midwinter” meetings. While we have accomplished quite a bit, much has been lost in terms of the personal relationships, connection, and late-night conversations that have played a critical role in advancing the OHA to where we are today.

Nonetheless, we have addressed our core business, approving our annual budget and reviewing committee reports, and we have also been forward looking as we continue to engage in rethinking our organizational structure to further our recently passed strategic plan.

We decided to invest $20,000 this year in initiatives that can help us achieve the goals laid out in the plan. Following three years of surpluses, including a surplus of $44,000 from 2020, Council approved the transfer of all but one year of operating expenses from our savings accounts to our endowment accounts. As a result, OHA transferred $66,000 to our endowment, which now has over $670,000 in it. To put things in perspective, OHA ended 2012 with $220,000 in our endowment. We are in a substantially more secure position as a result of the financial stewardship that has come from our recent executive offices and elected leadership.

When thinking about our annual budget, I find it useful to think of our three major areas of income and expenses: Membership/Executive Office, Annual Meeting and Oral History Review.

A hugely important source of income that serves as the backbone for the OHA comes from our individual and partnership memberships ($61k).  These dues largely support our executive office, which includes $56k for the office and approximately $27k for other administrative expenses. Much of the work of the executive office goes to support the annual meeting. Taking that into account, the actual cost of the annual meeting is far greater than what our budgeted cost is ($50k). We expect to earn $56k from conference registration and sponsorships.

The other huge source of revenue as well as significant area of expense is the Oral History Review, which importantly is owned by the Oral History Association.  The OHR brings in approximately $67k in revenue and costs us $42k.  That surplus supports the executive office as it plans the annual meeting, which is critical to generating scholarships for the field and content for the journal’s pages.  There are other sources of revenues and other costs, but these are the big ones.

None of that income nor those expenses are terribly stable.  We know our financial contribution to the next executive office will have to increase in order to make our transition successful (possibly by $20k).  We are currently in a position where we can risk that because we can responsibly draw approximately $25k from our endowment given its size and the guidelines set out in our bylaws and standing resolutions.  That does not, however, leave us with a lot of room to invest in our core values that seek to make our field more equitable, inclusive and meaningful. In order to address our core values, we need to grow.

Basically, we need to expand our annual income by $20,000 per year if we are going to use our endowment income to promote programs rather than operations.  While all of our committees have important contributions to make towards this growth, the two that are most directly critical are the Membership Committee, chaired by Catherine Mayfield, and our newly constituted Development Taskforce, chaired by Stephen Sloan.

A growth in our membership numbers by 15%, not counting a parallel growth that would occur with conference registrations, could raise an additional $10k.  Our relatively underdeveloped approach to development is currently raising approximately $10k per year, which supports scholarships and awards.

We believe that having a more robust strategy that focuses on annual giving campaigns, life memberships, planned giving, grants and corporate donations could easily double what we are currently doing. Lastly, given the growth of our endowment over the last decade, we are in a position to have a successful campaign to reach an endowment of $1 million, which would double the amount we are able to draw from it annually to invest in our priorities.

As we embark on an effort over the next two years to put OHA in a more sustainable position, please consider investing in our field with your own contributions.  We are the ones who have dedicated our lives to the practice of oral history, and we know why our field is so critically important.

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OHA’s Response to the Violent Attacks Against Asian Americans

March 22, 2021

In light of the recent violent attacks against the Asian American community, the OHA has done several things to support our friends and neighbors. We have signed onto a statement with fellow professional societies affiliated with the American Council of Learned Societies, decrying the violence. You can find the statement here: The Council has also gathered together resources that we might rely on as we stand firm against racial injustice pitted toward Asian and Pacific Islander communities. They include:

You can also:

If you have other resources you think we should include, please contact the Executive Office at gro.y1632496294rotsi1632496294hlaro1632496294@aho1632496294. We will continue to post everything we receive on this page.

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Anti-Oppression and Oral History Spring Workshop Series

The Oral History Association is proud to partner with the Columbia Oral History Master of Arts Program to co-sponsor a spring workshop series on Anti-Oppression and Oral History. This series will consist of five virtual workshops and is a continued collaboration from the Summer 2020 Anti-Oppression Workshop Series.

“Oral history has a strong tradition as a progressive practice, focused on amplifying marginalized voices not typically given powerful platforms to speak in public. Oral historians have documented the stories of struggles for justice around the world, and at times have participated in those struggles. At the same time, as a field oral history has excluded Indigenous people and practices from the legitimacy we have so laboriously built. Leadership in our organizations and institutions has been predominantly white, even while people of color have played key roles and invested their time and energy in building these institutions.

In this series, we share visions for oral history in which people of color – their knowledge, skills, practices and voices – are at the center of our practice. This is not a diversity approach, in which our field remains white-led but invites some people of color in. It is an anti-oppression approach, in which we reorient our work to challenge structural oppression actively, expecting that that will change our work and our field in deep ways. We invite you to learn, grow, imagine and be challenged.”

Find more information here:

The workshops will be free to everyone, with a sliding-scale suggested donation so instructors can be fairly paid.

Series at a Glance

March 20th, 2021, 1:00 – 4:00 PM
Placing the Narrator at the Center: Design Co-Created Oral History Projects
Nairy AbdElShafy

April 23rd, 2021, 3:00 – 5:00 PM
Oral History: A Working Praxis of Critical Care and Relationship-Building Pt. 1
Crystal Mun-Hye Baik 백문혜

April 30th, 2021, 3:00 – 5:00 PM
Oral History: A Working Praxis of Critical Care and Relationship-Building Pt. 2
Crystal Mun-Hye Baik 백문혜

May 13th, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30 PM
A Public Interview with Brent Stonefish
conducted by Francine D. Spang-Willis

May 27th, 2021, 1:00 – 4:00 PM
Equity Budgeting: Budgets for Economic Justice
Sarah Dziedzic and Jess Lamar Reece Holler

*All times are listed in Eastern Standard Time

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OHA 2021 Elections, Call for Nominations

OHA Nominations Committee
2021 OHA Elections
Call for Nominations

Deadline: March 22, 2021

Dear OHA members,

We are inviting you to help us move the organization forward towards its strategic goals and focus on social justice, by submitting statements of interest or recommendations (for self or another) for three (3) OHA leadership positions commencing October, 2021:

  • OHA President Elect (1 seat) to be elected for a one-year term (2021-2022) and a three-year commitment.
  • OHA Council (2 seats) to be elected for a three-year term (2021-2024).

The nominations committee enthusiastically embraces opening the process for broader inclusion and diversity and acknowledgement of the oral history community.

OHA is led by a group of volunteers who serve as officers, Council members, and committee members. See OHA Operations Manual for more detailed description of the roles and responsibilities of OHA officers and council members.

Under-represented members are especially welcome, as per the OHA Statement on Diversity and Inclusivity:

The Committee will review all statements of interest and recommendations and select two candidates for each position to bring to the membership for election. Statements of interest and recommendations must include; name, contact information, and a paragraph summarizing the nominee’s qualifications and vision. All candidates need to become OHA members following their official nomination.

Please submit using this form:

OHA Nomination Committee Co-Chairs

Nicki Pombier & Nishani Frazier
Email: moc.l1632496294iamg@1632496294reibm1632496294opikc1632496294in1632496294

2020-2021 Nomination Committee Members

David Cline
Sharon Utakis
Tara White
Winona Wheeler
Tomas Summers Sandoval, OHA Council Liaison

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Co-Executive Directors’ Report

By Kristine McCusker
February 2021 Newsletter

We hope that, during in the difficulties of a pandemic and political and economic uncertainty, you are surviving.

The OHA is navigating the perils of the pandemic well, thanks to the hard work of Council, volunteers and our intrepid Program Associate Faith Bagley. We are busy planning #OHA2021 and are pursuing positive approaches to holding a meeting in a time of pandemic. We are still monitoring the situation, preparing for the possibility of another virtual meeting, and will know more soon. Once we know for certain, we will send an email to the membership.

In the meantime, we are finding new opportunities to promote the organization:

  • This year, we will conduct two oral history trainings for regional library systems in Tennessee.
  • Thanks to support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, we are publishing online our most compelling 2020 conference sessions. They will be available by the end of February and will be open to the public.
  • Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez will be conducting an OHA-sponsored workshop on Latinx oral histories for the Organization of American Historians on April 15 from noon-1:30 p.m. EST. Special thanks to Virginia Espino for organizing this session. Pre-registration with OAH is required.

We are also helping Troy Reeves, the OHA’s new treasurer, ease into his job. He has already been a stellar support, providing good observations and wry asides as we make finance and insurance decisions. He also enjoys horrifying us southerners with horror stories of snowy Wisconsin.

We are in the process of setting up new financial systems (e.g. making Paypal a payment option) that will make it easier for our members.

As always, if there’s anything the OHA can do, please let us know. Until we hear from you then, best–or at least better–for 2021.

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