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OHA Statement on the Killing of George Floyd and Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

June 5, 2020

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed by a member of the Minneapolis Police Department. Following Mr. Floyd’s death, protests and calls for change and an end to police brutality have risen throughout the United States and internationally. The Oral History Association stands in solidarity with the family of Mr. Floyd, Black Lives Matter, protestors, and communities of color, and we echo this call for change. The killing of George Floyd is not an isolated incident, but another event in a long history of state violence and brutality toward people of color in the United States—a history that predates our country itself.

Institutionalized white supremacy is a disturbingly prominent part of American history, placing barriers to economic, social, and educational equality and creating a criminal justice system which is deeply punitive towards Black Americans. Further, militarized police actions that threaten a free press and freedom of assembly have worked to create a terrible legacy of violence and suppression towards those working to change this country.

As oral historians, we understand that through the stories of people—citizens and activists—we can confront oppression and work to create an equitable and just society. In our commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and respect, and to a historical record that documents the experiences of unheard and marginalized voices, we must listen to and amplify the demands of people and communities of color. We must continue to document and expose the injustice so many have suffered for centuries, and develop new projects to expand these efforts.

In this work, it is essential we adopt anti-racist methods and practices. Further, we can and must work to address institutional racism in our institutions and our field, through developing and supporting leaders of color, providing anti-oppression training, and continually working to center the voices and experiences of those most directly impacted by oppression. People of color, whether they be colleagues, narrators, students, or patrons, must be supported and valued. Historical knowledge around police brutality and systemic racism is essential to addressing both, but Black and Brown people must have a clear, equal, and respected role in developing this knowledge.  

Many of our members have dedicated their careers to documenting stories of democratic citizen action and how these efforts can enact change. We have a responsibility to understand and celebrate these successful efforts, and to engage in this work ourselves. There are a number of ways we can support current protests and calls for justice: register to vote, sign petitions, support protestors or participate in protests ourselves, donate to groups and funds working to end police violence and systemic racism, call our legislators, and educate ourselves.

As Black Americans and those acting in allyship in our communities, states, and country engage in difficult and transformative work to end police violence and racism, work that will continue long after the current moment, we are committed to supporting them and participating, now and in the future. Black Lives Matter.

The following organizations have endorsed this statement:

Baylor University Institute for Oral History
Columbia University Oral History Master of Arts Program and
Columbia Center for Oral History Research
Oral History Archives at Columbia
Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic (OHMAR)
Texas Oral History Association (TOHA)
UNT Oral History Program
UW-Madison Oral History Program

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Highlight: OHA 2019 Diversity Scholarship Award Winner- Anahí Naranjo

Anahí Naranjo Jara is an environmental justice advocate and storyteller from Quito, Ecuador. Anahí is using oral history to highlight the resilience of communities on the frontlines of environmental and social injustices historically silenced in dominant discourses.  Her Pachamama Oral History Project “aims to elevate and center agrarian indigenous individuals in the Ecuadorian Andes to highlight the impact of climate change on the physical and cultural landscape of the region.”

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Update from the OHA President

5-15-2020

I’m writing to update you on the Oral History Association’s continued response to COVID-19, especially as it relates to the annual meeting.

First, as shelter-in-place orders begin to lift or relax within parts of the United States and internationally, it will be a challenge for all of us to navigate shifts (or the lack thereof) in our work and home lives, in those of our loved ones, and in our communities. As I stressed before, following social distancing guidelines, including wearing a face mask, is as important as ever. I will say I have been dismayed to see not only COVID-19 disproportionately impact vulnerable communities in terms of infection rates, death, and economic impact, but also the lack of response from local and state officials in some parts of the country to combat this. I want to take a moment to highlight the OHA’s Statement on Diversity and Inclusivity. Though our ability to practice oral history in these times may be limited, our commitment to respect, inclusivity, equality, and dignity has not wavered. As we negotiate these times, centering the well-being of our fellow humans is and will continue to be essential. 

Second, work continues on our 2020 Annual Meeting, though admittedly it looks increasingly different from previous years. Typically we open our conference registration portal in May, but we’ve decided to postpone registration. There are many unknowns that we are still working through, and given this we feel we need more information and decisions in place before we can begin registration. We hope to open the portal later in June, but if there are any delays, I will let you know as soon as possible. I thank you all for your patience on this. 

Unfortunately, it is also still not yet clear what direction the meeting will take, whether all in-person, all virtual, or a combination. As projected timelines for when large group gatherings can resume only increase, though, we know the likelihood of having an all-virtual meeting increases. Accordingly, we’ve taken multiple steps to begin concrete planning for this possibility. This includes convening the Virtual Meeting Task Force to assist the Program Committee and Local Arrangements Committee with planning the annual meeting. This task force is assisting in a variety of ways, from reviewing available best practices for virtual meetings, to assessing potential digital platforms, to thinking about how we maintain essential aspects of any meeting, like networking. All these capable people are also continuing to develop the meeting program. Sessions, plenaries, the keynote address, workshops, tours, and networking events all will be held no matter what direction the meeting takes. One important tradition at our meetings is honoring the annual award winners. And fortunately there is still time to get in applications! The current deadline is June 1, and you can find more information about the awards and how to apply here. The Call for Posters is still open as well. This would be a great way to feature any recently started projects or efforts.

As we continue to plan, we need your help. The Program Committee, the Local Arrangements Committee, and the Executive Office have developed a survey about the annual meeting. You can access it here, and I hope you will take it. It will help us assess considerations related to an in-person vs. virtual meeting, travel restrictions, registrations costs, potential digital platforms, and the recording/accessibility of sessions. All of this information will be vital in our work, especially as we continue to navigate so many unknowns. 

Finally, as this crisis wears on and getting back to “normal” seems more distant by the day, it’s understandable our sense of well-being may erode. In my own self-care efforts, I have found a few things helpful, including these tips on self-holds, the New York Times At-Home special section, Zoom happy hours, meal planning to limit grocery store trips and nourish my body, and daily walks. What self-care means for everyone is different, but I’m mentioning it again because I sincerely hope you have space in your day for it. It helps sustain us (something very different from increasing productivity, which is a pressure I encourage you to say “No, thank you,” to), and it helps us to be present for ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.

I’ll be in touch soon. Please stay safe and take care.

Best,

Allison K. Tracy-Taylor
OHA President

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Executive Director’s Report

By Kristine McCusker

            This has been a trying few months for everyone, and we hope you are all staying safe. As we have been hunkered down and working remotely, the Executive Office and the Council have found new ways to serve our membership while at the same time gathering information and building new foundations that will stabilize us in difficult times.

            We have conducted or co-conducted two webinars, for example. Thanks again to our friends at the Baylor Institute for Oral History for our co-sponsored and quite timely webinar on remote oral interviewing in early April. Thanks, as well, to our friends at the American Folklore Society for our co-sponsored webinar on Fieldwork and Digital Audio Technology held on May 1. Remember that webinars are always free for our members and can be accessed behind the paywall. We also hope you will sign up for future “check-ins,” as some did with OHA President Allison Tracy-Taylor in April.

            In the meantime, Kris and Louis, the organization’s co-directors, have been gathering information from sources such as the American Council of Learned Societies and other professional, nonprofit societies to make sure we move forward with the least amount of disruption.

            We have consulted the ACLS attorney to make sure that the organization is protected legally and financially. This has helped us generate both a risk assessment for the organization as well as a long-term disaster plan that will account not only for pandemics, but for labor strikes, weather disasters and other disruptive activities that could do us harm.

            We also have applied for money from humanities organizations, the CARES act and other governmental sources to make sure that any financial hits we take will be weathered by these other sources of aid. 

            As always, please let us know if there is anything the Executive Office can do to help.

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President’s Column

By Allison K. Tracy-Taylor

            I’m writing to keep you updated on the various ways the OHA is responding to the COVID-19 epidemic. This is an evolving situation requiring work in a number of areas. By beginning work now, we hope to get ahead of and mitigate negative impacts on the Association and our membership.

            First, let me say I hope you all are staying safe. The seriousness of COVID-19 cannot be overstated. Further, state and federal guidelines on social distancing have impacted many of us in profound ways, the full extent of which we won’t understand for weeks or months, even years. The health and well-being of you and your communities is of the highest priority. I ask you to follow all local and national orders on sheltering in place and social distancing, and I encourage you, as you are able, to prioritize self-care and care for your families and communities.

            Second, we are continuing with planning for our 2020 Annual Meeting in Baltimore. It is our sincere hope the current crisis will resolve enough to allow us to move forward with the meeting as planned. It is shaping up to be an exciting and dynamic meeting.

            The Program Committee has been hard at work reviewing session proposals, and acceptance notifications will go out soon. The Call for Posters is now open, and scholarship applications are also available. We have pushed back the scholarship application deadline to June 10, 2020, and notifications will go out in July. We encourage you to plan for the meeting as you would in any other year, though please review and follow the CDC’s guidelines on travel. It’s also best to not make nonrefundable travel arrangements at this time.

            Understanding there are many unknowns in this situation, we have also begun a risk assessment of COVID-19 and the economic implications stemming from it for the Association. For the annual meeting, there are a number of scenarios being considered, including the possibility, if meeting face to face is not safe or feasible, of holding a virtual meeting. These discussions are in early stages, and we are committed to communicating with the membership and meeting attendees about these discussions often and in a timely manner.

            We are also developing a longer-term emergency plan for the Association. This plan will cover a number of scenarios, and I imagine by the end of 2020 our section on how to respond to pandemics will be particularly robust.

            As oral historians, in these times of social distancing, we’ve had to reevaluate the how and why of face-to-face interviewing. A number of resources around this issue have been developed that I’d like to share with you.

            First, the Association was fortunate to partner with Baylor University’s Institute for Oral History to hold a webinar on remote interviewing. If you were unable to attend, we’ve made available the recording of the webinar, the slides, and additional resources pulled from the webinar chat, as well as a summary of the webinar’s recommendations.

            The Vermont Folklife Center has also put out helpful tips on remote interviewing, and this week the Oral History Society released substantive advice on remote interviewing. Finally, Sarah Dziedzic (who has worn many hats in the Association, including currently serving as co-chair for the Independent Practitioners Task Force) has written an essay on oral history, immunodeficiency and disability justice. I hope you’ll take a moment to read it.

            The Association is also working to develop further guidelines and resources around remote interviewing and we hope to distribute these soon. As resources in other areas impacting our community become available, the Association will work to highlight and connect our membership to them. If there are resources you find particularly useful or topics on which you’d like to see more resources, please reach out to the office. If you’re interested and available to help us curate resources in a particular area, please let us know.

            I’ll be in touch soon and regularly. Please stay safe and take care.

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Webinar: Fieldwork and Digital Audio Technology: What to Know before You Go

The Oral History Association and the American Folklore Society present the next in their series of webinar:

Fieldwork and Digital Audio Technology: What to Know before You Go

May 1, 2020
1:00pm-2:30pm EST

Leaders: John Fenn (American Folklife Center) and Andy Kolovos (Vermont Folklife Center)

This interactive webinar will provide beginning and seasoned fieldworkers alike with strategies and approaches for integrating digital audio capture technologies into their cultural documentation efforts. Given the rapid rate at which digital technologies and equipment change in the consumer world, it can be challenging to figure out what you want versus what you need. From complex jargon to varying definitions of “quality” and “resolution,” there can be a lot to know—and it is easy to get lost in the world of audio recording options.The webinar leaders will emphasize some of the key factors to be aware of when planning for the use of digital fieldwork equipment, and will offer a range of tips and questions to consider. We hope to demystify the process of choosing and using digital audio equipment for ethnographic fieldwork and oral history interviewing, so in addition to discussing some of the basic technological aspects we will discuss a few recording scenarios common to this type of work. 

Social distancing complicates face-to-face interviewing and fieldwork activity that involves audio recording, so in light of the risks posed by the coronavirus/COVID-19 to fieldworkers and participants alike we will explore options for remote audio capture. We will try to account for smartphone-based options as well as those available via personal computers, including both asynchronous and real-time interviewing.​


Free to OHA and AFS members. Nonmember fee is $75.

AFS Members can get the discount code and registration instructions here.

Seating is limited so sign up soon! Register Here: oha.memberclicks.net/fieldworkdigitaltechnology-webinar

Please email oha@oralhistory.org with any questions.

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COVID- 19 Updates for OHA

Conference Update from the OHA President (6-25-2020)

Update from the OHA President (5-15-2020)

Letter from the OHA President (4-10-2020)


The OHA Office is working Remotely (3-20-2020):

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, oha@oralhistory.org, as that will be our most reliable method of communication.

Thank you!
OHA Staff


OHR Update: Resuming Book Reviews (6-25-2020):

Books are available again for review (http://oralhistoryreview.org/books/), though through summer 2020, the OHR will mail books to reviewers twice a month, so expect some delays in receiving books.

OHR Update: Pause on Book Reviews (3-19-2020):

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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Letter from the President

I’m writing to keep you updated on the various ways the OHA is responding to the COVID-19 epidemic. This is an evolving situation requiring work in a number of areas. By beginning work now, we hope to get ahead of and mitigate negative impacts on the Association and our membership.

First, let me say I hope you all are staying safe. The seriousness of COVID-19 cannot be overstated. Further, state and federal guidelines on social distancing have impacted many of us in profound ways, the full extent of which we won’t understand for weeks or months, even years. The health and well-being of you and your communities is of the highest priority. I ask you to follow all local and national orders on sheltering in place and social distancing, and I encourage you, as you are able, to prioritize self-care and care for your families and communities.

Second, we are continuing with planning for our 2020 Annual Meeting in Baltimore. It is our sincere hope the current crisis will resolve enough to allow us to move forward with the meeting as planned. I will say it is shaping up to be an exciting and dynamic meeting. The Program Committee has been hard at work reviewing session proposals, and acceptance notifications will go out soon. The Call for Posters is now open, and scholarship applications are also available. We have pushed back the scholarship application deadline to June 10, 2020, and notifications will go out in July. We encourage you to plan for the meeting as you would in any other year, though please review and follow the CDC’s guidelines on travel. It’s also best to not make nonrefundable travel arrangements at this time.

Understanding there are many unknowns in this situation, we have also begun a risk assessment of COVID-19 and the economic implications stemming from it for the Association. For the annual meeting, there are a number of scenarios being considered, including the possibility, if meeting face to face is not safe or feasible, of holding a virtual meeting. These discussions are in early stages, and we are committed to communicating with the membership and meeting attendees about these discussions often and in a timely manner. We are also developing a longer-term emergency plan for the Association. This plan will cover a number of scenarios, and I imagine by the end of 2020 our section on how to respond to pandemics will be particularly robust.

As oral historians, in these times of social distancing, we’ve had to reevaluate the how and why of face-to-face interviewing. A number of resources around this issue have been developed that I’d like to share with you. First, the Association was fortunate to partner with Baylor University’s Institute for Oral History to hold a webinar on remote interviewing. If you were unable to attend, we’ve made available the recording of the webinar, the slides, and additional resources pulled from the webinar chat, as well as a summary of the webinar’s recommendations. The Vermont Folklife Center has also put out helpful tips on remote interviewing, and this week the Oral History Society released substantive advice on remote interviewing. Finally, Sarah Dziedzic (who has worn many hats in the Association, including currently serving as co-chair for the Independent Practitioners Task Force) has written an essay on oral history, immunodeficiency, and disability justice. I hope you’ll take a moment to read it. The Association is also working to develop further guidelines and resources around remote interviewing and we hope to distribute these soon. As resources in other areas impacting our community become available, the Association will work to highlight and connect our membership to them. If there are resources you find particularly useful or areas you’d like to see more resources in, please reach out to the office. If you’re interested and available to help us curate resources in a particular area, please let us know.

Finally, we’ve planned a virtual check-in for Wednesday, April 15 at 10am PDT (11am MDT, 12pm CDT, 1pm EDT). The meeting will be held via Zoom, and you can register to participate here (You can log in using your membership login information). In these times it’s challenging to anticipate our members’ needs. One thing that has helped me is to connect with colleagues virtually and talk through issues I’m dealing with. So, this virtual check-in is a bit of an experiment, and an informal time for folks to connect and talk through issues they are facing. If this proves helpful, I can see us holding check-ins regularly. If not, we’ll continue to look into other ways to support our membership.

I’ll be in touch soon and regularly. Please stay safe and take care.

Best,

Allison K. Tracy-Taylor
OHA President

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Webinar Recording: Oral History at a Distance: Conducting Remote Interviews

Sponsored by Baylor University’s Institute for Oral History and the Oral History Association

The Full Recording of the webinar, as well as the Q&A Session afterwards, are now available.

The slides from the webinar, a summary, and a digest of additional resources mentioned in the webinar chat and Q&A, are also available.


Tuesday, March 31, 1pm to 3pm CDT
Followed by an extended Q&A session

This webinar is free for the public, and requires no pre-registration. A recording of the webinar will be posted on the OHA website.

This timely webinar will address the dynamics of conducting remote oral history interviews. It will begin with an analysis of the pros and cons of conducting distance oral history interviews. Stephen Sloan will then address aspects of interviewing in a distance environment, breaking down the interviewer and narrator experience in these exchanges, and offer direction on best approaches for interviewing at a distance. In recording remote interviews, Steven Sielaff will cover best practices for recording archival-quality oral history interviews, then discuss in depth the tools and techniques available to enable the user to follow best practices in a remote setting. Physical equipment and software used for landline, cellular, and web-based video conferencing recording solutions will be discussed. Adrienne Cain will cover the legal and ethical considerations and implications of oral histories conducted via distance interviewing. The information included in this section abides by OHA’s Principles and Best Practices, John Neuenschwander’s Oral History and the Law, as well as other resources applicable to distance interviewing.

Facilitators:

Adrienne Cain
Steven Sielaff
Stephen Sloan

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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, oha@oralhistory.org, as that will be our most reliable method of communication.

Thank you!
OHA Staff

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