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#OHA2019 Paper Submission Portal Deadline has been Extended

The submission portal for the 2019 Annual Meeting is now open. The deadline for submissions has been extended to February 15, 2019. Please note that you will need to create a new account in order to submit a proposal, even if you have submitted proposals in the past.

The Call for Papers is available here, and information about the meeting is available here. Submission Guidelines can be found here.

#OHA2019 is in Salt Lake City, Utah, October 16 – 19, 2019, at the Sheraton Hotel.


OHA Annual Meeting Live-Streaming of Sessions on Facebook Page

Below is the schedule of panels that will be live-streamed on the OHA Facebook page during the Annual Meeting:



African American Oral History
Paper Session
8:30 to 10:00 am (E.S.T.)

Everyone Has a Story: The Role of Oral Tradition among Grassroots Preservationists in Texas’ Historic African American Settlements, Andrea R. Roberts, Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University

Let the Lawyer do the Talking: Shaping Social Movement Narratives of the Long Sixties, Camilo Eugenio Lund-Montano, University of California, Berkeley

Mississippi’s Other Movement: Lessons from the Digital Starkville Civil Rights Project, Judith Ridner, Mississippi State University

Writing about Traveling while Black: Impact of Green Book, Newspapers, and Oral-History on Travel History of an African-American Family, Kathryn Dungy, St. Michael’s College; Ray Black, Colorado State University

Gwendolyn Etter-Lewis, Miami University


Civil Rights and Human Rights: Digital and Oral Histories in the US-Mexico Borderlands
10:30 to 12:00 pm (E.S.T.)

Journalists in the Long and Wide Civil Rights Movement: The Untold Story Behind the Storytellers, Melita M. Garza, Texas Christian University

Civil Rights, Human Rights, Labor Rights: Farmworkers and Migration in the US Southwest, Veronica Reyes-Escudero, University of Arizona

Killing the Messengers: The Importance of Oral History for Freedom of Expression in Mexico and Beyond, Celeste Gonzalez de Bustamante, University of Arizona

Desert Voices: Notes on Producing an Oral History Website with a Journalism History Class, Linda Lumsden, University of Arizona

Anna Sheftel, Saint Paul University


Race, Memory, and Reconciliation: The Aftermath of the 2015 Charleston Killings
1:45 to 3:15 pm (E.S.T.)

Making Sense of the Tragedy: Oral History and the Emanuel Massacre, Marina Laura Lopez, Citadel Oral History Program

Teaching the Emanuel Massacre in the Charleston Classroom, Kieran W. Taylor, 1966

On Reconciliation and Racial Justice in Charleston, South Carolina, Vicki Callahan, University of South California

Kieran W. Taylor, The Citadel



When I Was Your Age: Using Oral Histories to Learn about Childhoods & Youth
8:30 to 10:00 am (E.S.T.)

Rachael A. Beyer, University of Delaware

Heidi MacDonald, University of Lethbridge

Joel P. Rhodes, Southeast Missouri State University

Christa Patricia Whitney, Yiddish Book Center

Donna Alvah, St. Lawrence University


Influencing Public Discourse & Policy through First-Hand Testimony
10:30 to 12:00 pm (E.S.T.)

Abandoned: Stories from Survivors of Gun Violence, Holly Werner-Thomas, Columbia University

The Texas After Violence Project, Jane Field, Texas After Violence Project

Oral History, Organizing, and Creation of Subjectivity (or, Why Should I Be A Member Anyway), Daniel Horowitz Garcia, Alternative Historian; StoryCorps


Contemporary Student Activism
Paper Session
2:15 to 3:45 pm E.S.T.

Days of Resistance: Documenting Black Lives Matter in Higher Education, Cynthia Tobar, Teachers College, Columbia University

Documenting the Silences of the Disenfranchised: Reclaiming the Narratives of Black Female Student Activists, Lae’l Hughes-Watkins, Kent State University Libraries

Within These Walls: The Place of (Be)longing, Anger, and Power in Geography Students’ Strike at Concordia University, Nadia Hausfather, Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, Concordia University

Leslie McCartney, University of Alaska, Fairbanks



Oral History and the Structural Violence of Deindustrialization
9:00 to 10:30 am E.S.T.

Talking Violence and Danger in Gentrifying St-Henri, Montréal Fred Burrill, Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, Concordia University

Working-Class Erasure: Oral Histories of Displacement in Deindustrialized Spaces, Lachlan MacKinnon, St. Mary’s University

Company Ephemera, Class and Identity, Angie Arsenault, Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, Concordia University

Remembering the Unremarkable: Labour Process and Shopfloor Cultures in Female Dominated Factories, Andy Clarke, Newcastle University

Steven High, Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, Concordia University


Climate Change
Paper Session
1:45–3:15 p.m. E.S.T.

Oral Histories of Environmental Futures: A Project on Climate Change and Energy in Philadelphia, Roger Eardley-Pryor, University of California, Berkeley

Stories from the Ice: Oral History, Global Warming, and Photographing the Land, Kathleen M. Ryan, University of Colorado Boulder

After Activism: Community Environmentalism and the Sydney Tar Ponds Cleanup, 1999-2004, Lachlan MacKinnon, Cape Breton University

Polluted Purifiers: An Oral History of Southeast Louisiana’s Oyster Farmers in the Wake of the Deepwater Horizon Environmental Disaster, Joselyn Whitney Takacs, University of Southern California

Laurie Mercier, Washington State University

Oral History & Podcasting/Radio Storytelling

Molly Graham
Assistant Director
Oral History & Folklife Research, Inc.
June 2018


My first introduction to oral history was in the form of a 2001 radio story that aired on This American Life. (I feel like a lot of oral historians’ origin story begins this way.) Reporter Carl Marziali was telling the story of David Boder, a psychologist who escaped the Russian Civil War and came to the United States in 1919.  Boder returned to Europe in 1945 to record the first Holocaust testimonies, over a decade before we called the Holocaust the Holocaust.  Terms such as “death march” don’t appear in any of the 109 interviews recorded in a dozen different languages.  Names like Josef Mengele are mispronounced as “Wengele” in the recordings.  These interviews are so different from later Holocaust testimonies and memoirs that have been shaped by time and other survivor’s accounts.

At the time I heard this radio show, I thought I wanted to do for a living what Carl Marziali was doing – produce radio documentaries.  I didn’t know that I would also end up doing what David Boder did – recording life stories.  I went on study at the Salt Institute in Portland, Maine.  Here I learned how to produce radio documentaries – podcasts.  My education at Salt, much more than my graduate work in library and archives management, has informed my approach to doing oral history.  At Salt, we were taught how to be professional sound engineers, but also how to capture “felt life” from narrators, meaning the closest understanding of another person’s life experience.  I became embedded in a story for four months documenting the experience of two men who claim to be abducted by aliens in Maine’s Allagash Wilderness.  And my approach to interviewing Jack and Charlie has been the same for everyone I have interviewed since – veterans, activists, immigrants.  This is their version of their life.  I am the midwife to their life story.  I am there to guide it out and record it well.

Salt changed the trajectory of my life, helped shape my career and made me a good oral historian.  I have since urged every oral historian, colleague, and stranger on the street to attend this program or the Transom Storytelling workshops.  Because of Salt I get good tape and good content.  This has been my big push in the field of oral history – the quality of the recording is as important as the information contained within it.  Poor sound quality precludes access and use.  Oral historians need to adopt the standards of public radio – good equipment, mic placement, soundchecks, soft space, and NO extraneous interviewer noises (mm-hmm, yeah, etc.).  Interviews are easier to transcribe, excerpt, and share if recorded well.  It honors the story of the person you are interviewing if recorded warmly, closely and crisply.  It’s embarrassing to turn over a recording that sounds like it was recorded under the sea, in a wind tunnel or with an adult from the Peanuts cartoon.  And it’s so avoidable.  As much attention should be paid to the questions we are asking and the content we are creating as to the medium we record these memories and stories on.

Podcasts have become a popular way for oral historians to feature their stories, share bite-sized portions of their work.  There’s been a lot of buzz about this topic in our field.  Lots of oral history institutions are getting into podcasting – talking about and featuring their material.  It’s a great opportunity to have the content reach broader and more diverse audiences.  It gives our collections longer lives and a wider geographic and demographic scope.  Our interviews become more flexible and versatile if shared in this way.  It’s also a great way to get reacquainted with your collection and the stories in it.  But if oral historians are not trained properly in sound recording techniques, podcast pieces won’t be a successful way to highlight our important work.

Annual Meeting Spotlight: Documenting Ferguson

Documenting Ferguson: Oral History, Virtual Technologies, and the Making of a Movement

The Saturday plenary session at the OHA annual meeting will explore issues of historical recovery posed by the mass protests against state sanctioned violence after the shooting of Michael Brown last August. As national attention turned to this little known city in St. Louis County during the summer of 2014, an explosion of youth activism and social media production made it a flashpoint for long standing grievances about law enforcement killings of unarmed citizens. Documenting this protest in real time raises a number of important issues for oral historians and academics, including how to best obtain oral interviews that represent broad swaths of different communities affected by the protests, whether or not utterances in social media might also be included as part of oral testimony, and finally how might archivists, researchers and academics work together to best preserve this living history. Professor Donna Murch, author of the oral history-based book Living for the City, will host a dialogue with Makiba Foster of the Documenting Ferguson project at Washington University and activists Nailah Summers from Florida and Haiku from St. Louis.


Annual Meeting Plenary: The Guantánamo Public Memory Project

The Guantánamo Public Memory Project is a multi-year collaborative public history project that seeks to build public awareness of the long history of the U.S. naval station at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and foster dialogue on its current uses and possible futures for the site. Launched in 2009 from the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience in conjunction with Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, the Project entails a growing collaboration of universities, organizations, and individuals. Historians Liz Ševčenko and Patrick Moore will discuss the project’s goals, activities, and outcomes, especially emphasizing the role of oral history as a means of collecting and sharing new stories about the Guantánamo Bay Naval Station. From 2011-2014, Ševčenko, Moore, and teams of students and faculty from more than a dozen universities worked with people who lived, worked, served, or were held at GTMO — as well as with journalists, lawyers, human rights activists, artists, and museum professionals — to encourage community conversations about the US base and consider its relevance to numerous issues including national security, militarism, immigration, public health, and incarceration.

Liz Ševčenko was the founding director of the Guantanamo Public Memory Project. She also was founding director of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, a network of historic sites that foster public dialogue on pressing contemporary issues. As Coalition Director, Ševčenko worked with initiatives in more than 60 countries to design replicable programs and practices that reflect on past struggles and inspire citizens to become involved in addressing their contemporary legacies. She is currently co-director of the Humanities Action Lab at the New School, and director of its Global Dialogues on Incarceration.

Patrick Moore is the current president of the National Council on Public History and the founder and director of the Public History Program at the University of West Florida. Professor Moore and his colleagues at UWF developed the mobile app Next Exit History™, a GPS-based system that provides iPhone and Android smartphone users with on-site historic information that Moore takes on the road in conjunction with his UWF summer travel courses on Route 66, Civil Rights, and the Lewis and Clark expedition. Moore’s other notable projects include a study of Cuban commuters and exiles at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, as well as an assessment of Hurricane Katrina’s impact on Gulf Coast fishing communities. As a fellow at the Kennedy Space Center, Moore helped create an oral history and knowledge-mapping program and is in the final edits of an oral history-based manuscript titled Voices From the Cape.

Annual Meeting Spotlight: Keynote Speaker Charles E. Cobb, Jr.

Remembering and Telling the History of the Southern Civil Rights Movement

The keynote speaker for the Friday lunch at the annual meeting will be Charles E. Cobb, Jr.  Cobb is a prolific author who has worked tirelessly to document and preserve the history of the Black Freedom Movement in America.  From 1962-1967, Cobb served as a field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), mainly in Mississippi. After SNCC, he and other SNCC veterans established Drum and Spear Bookstore in Washington, DC which became for a time the largest bookstore in the country specializing in books for and about black people. Later he traveled through parts of Africa, including Tanzania, where he lived in 1970 and 1971.

In 1974 Cobb began reporting for WHUR Radio in Washington, DC.  He later worked at National Public Radio as a foreign affairs reporter, working on the network’s coverage of Africa and helping establish NPR’s first coverage of African affairs. After leaving NPR, Cobb worked as a correspondent for the PBS show Frontline from 1983 until 1985. In 1985 he became the first black staff writer for National Geographic Magazine. He was a member of National Geographic’s editorial staff from 1985-1997.

Currently Cobb is a senior analyst at  He has taught about the southern civil rights movement at several universities and authored four books including Radical Equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project (with Robert Moses), On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail, and, most recently, This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible.

In 2011, Cobb helped establish the SNCC Legacy Project, which works with SNCC veterans to archive historical documents, and to support their efforts to tell, teach, and reflect on civil rights history and the ongoing impact of the movement in America.  On March 2, 2015 the SNCC Legacy Project in collaboration with Duke University launched a One Person One Vote website: In April Duke received a grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation to continue and expand this project over the next three years. Cobb has been on Duke’s campus as the “scholar-activist” in this effort.

For more on Charles Cobb, see these excerpts from an oral history interview conducted by OHA executive director Cliff Kuhn for the National Center on Civil and Human Rights:

Register now for the 2015 annual meeting in Tampa

Online registration for the 2015 meeting is now OPEN.

Make plans to attend the 2015 annual meeting scheduled for October 14-18 at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel. The annual meeting attracts a broad range of people and features the best work in the field, enabling students and both emerging and established scholars to network and learn valuable skills. This year’s theme, “Stories for Social Change and Social Justice,” focuses special attention on the power of oral history to uncover links between political and cultural change and to inspire civic engagement.

Program Highlights

  • Dynamic plenary sessions on oral history and social activism, the Guantanamo Public Memory Project, and organizing in the aftermath of Ferguson;
  • Andy Garrison, independent filmmaker out of Austin, Texas, showcasing and speaking about his most recent documentary feature Trash Dance;
  •  OHA Presidential Reception at the Tampa Bay History Center and performance of Gator Tales, an original play devised and directed by Kevin Marshall in conjunction with the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program featuring the unique experiences of African American students at the University of Florida;
  • Keynote speaker Charlie Cobb, journalist, professor, and former activist with SNCC. Cobb is currently a senior analyst at and a visiting professor at Brown University, as well as one of the creators and coordinators of the SNCC Legacy Project.
  •  Evening performances by actor, writer and educator Judith Sloan, featuring her work “YO MISS!,” and human rights activist and comedian Hari Kondabolu, called “one of the most exciting political comics in stand-up today” by the New York Times.


  • Oral history workshops for practitioners at all levels;
  • The OHA mentor program linking newcomers to established oral historians; and
  • More than 75 general sessions highlighting recent work and new technology.

Registration and housing will open in May. The links for online registration and hotel reservations will be available on our website when they are available.

Recaps of the Annual Meeting from Attendees

From Baylor University:

From Bryn Mawr College:

And from the Southern Oral History Project newsletter:

Director’s Note

Staff, students, and friends of SOHP recently gathered at the 2014 Oral History Association (OHA) annual meeting in Madison, Wisconsin. I felt all the satisfaction, inspiration, and exhaustion that a great conference brings. OHA is a unique meeting–it is a refreshing combination of presentations about historical findings, project workflows, archival tools, teaching methods, engagement strategies, artistic work, and ethical issues. The conference touches on every aspect of oral history work in every setting (communities, universities and schools of all sizes and shapes, non-profit organizations and corporations). It reminds us that regardless of our specialty, all of us have a role to play in moving our field forward, and that, as Seth Kotch, late of the SOHP, stated during the panel presentation he shared with our Coordinator of Collections Jaycie Vos and NC State Library Fellow Virginia Ferris, “oral history is not over when the interview is done. That would just be an interview.”

We had recently seen many of our alums and friends at the Symposium and Celebration for Jacquelyn Dowd Hall here at UNC, but reconnecting with so many of the SOHP family involved in planning the OHA conference was a particular thrill. Current and former staff and students of SOHP belonged to (or chaired!) the Program Committee, gave over a dozen presentations, and were members of the OHA executive leadership as well. Associate Director Rachel Seidman shared the stage with Founding Director Jacquelyn Dowd Hall and two other noted historians for a thought-provoking plenary session, “Academics as Activists,” which SOHP sponsored. Former Outreach Coordinator Beth Millwood’s smile was pleasantly ubiquitous, as she chaired both a panel and OHA’s International Committee. The conference also featured the documentary film I co-produced, Private Violence, right on time for our nation’s current and extensive discussion of domestic violence. The film features DV victim advocate Kit Gruelle, who was interviewed by SOHP in 2013 as part of the Moxie Project. Jaycie also presented on the physical and digital exhibit she curated for our 40th anniversary. Two of our graduate students, Rob Shapard and Sarah McNamara, gave papers on their research, and UNC Professor Hannah Gill, who directs the New Roots project on Latino migrants to North Carolina, also gave a compelling presentation. The conference was also a great opportunity to connect with our collaborators at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies and the University of Mississippi, and regenerate relationships with colleagues from all over the country. Oral history offers a window into the world that is unlike any other field; it is a method and a discipline that helps us imagine a future, using both the past and present to incubate our ideas and connect to each other in new ways.

The variety was stunning. If you want a glimpse yourself, check out the Storify presentation that Jaycie created for OHA. It was a pleasure and honor for me to witness how our SOHP community continues to lead the field in every respect, and how we are embracing every opportunity to learn and advance our work.

–Malinda Maynor Lowery