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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

Updates to the Program

Thursday, October 9

  • Session #13: Recovering Endangered Narratives- Session Canceled
  • Session #16: Oral History Recording tours as Visionary Journalism: The SoMove Social Movement Oral History Tour Reportback and Roundtable- Session Canceled
  • Session #18: A Holistic Partnership Approach to Oral Histories with Ethnic Minority Refugees from Burma- Keith Yanner will Chair this session.
  • Session #21: Showcasing Fringe Narratives: Grassroots Latina Activists in Southern California- Natalie Fouseskis will chair this session.
  • Session #25: Implementing OHMS: Multi-Institutional Perspectives- Session moved from Saturday to Thursday at 10;15.

Friday, October 10

  • Session #60: New Bottles for Old Wine: New Media, Oral History, and Digital Storytelling- Mike Lyons will not present his paper.
  • Session #61: Militaries and Civilians- Major Marico Bergo will not present his paper.  Tetiana Boriak will present her paper originally scheduled for Session #24.

Saturday. October 11

  • SATURDAY TEACHER WORKSHOP– the location has changed to the Madison Concourse Hotel, Capitol Ballroom B.
  • Session #89: Life Histories- Megan Gough will not present her paper.
  • Session #111: Healing History? Transforming Narratives in Post Conflict Settings- Natalie Fousekis will chair this session.
  • Session #112: Innovations in Education- Gwendolyn Etter-Lewis will present her paper previously scheduled for Session #123.

Sunday, October 12

  • Session #120: Refugee Memories- Session cancelled. Katherine Fobear will present her paper in Session #123.
  • Session #123: Activism and Memory- Kristen Delegard, Historyapolis Project, will chair this session. Katherine Fobear will present her paper originally scheduled for Session #120.  Gwendolyn Etter-Lewis will present her paper on Saturday in Session #112.


Blog: International Committee reflections on 2013 Annual Meeting

By Leslie McCartney, International Committee Web Liaison

Over the next couple of months we will feature comments from recipients of this year’s OHA scholarships as designated by the Oral History Association’s International Committee.  This month we feature comments by:

Peili Yin, China (Peking University, China)

Paper Title: Review on Mainland China Research of Oral History in Libraries

Abstract:  As far as Mainland China is concerned, the research of oral history in libraries is still at its beginning stage. Until now, there still have not been any books published, while the number of published articles is also relatively less, only 41.
In the year 2000, the first article was published in the Library Journal Shanghai Library.  Compared to America, it’s more than 30 years later must be noted that a large amount of articles (take the percentage of 43.9%) were written by librarians of Shantou University Library, which is the first library in Mainland China carry out oral history with the support of Li Ka Shing Foundation.
The most important is that the research theme is also very narrow.  Almost half of the articles were on the importance and feasibility of oral history in libraries.  The oral history management problems especially cataloging, digitizing, laws and ethics were little discussed.  Researchers and librarians should pay more and more attention to them.

Peili’s Comments:
It’s really a pleasant experience for a student from China to attend the OHA. Even today, I still feel unrealistic for having made such a successful presentation. It should be a dream, but it really came true.
I’m happy to see that through my presentation, oral history in libraries of Mainland China was introduced which also aroused the interest of foreign scholars and practitioners. It was indeed a good chance to exchange and interact from a global view.
The colorful kinds of workshops, roundtables and sessions enriched my knowledge of oral history, especially in the law issue and cataloguing which is still very weak in Mainland China.
For a beginner in oral history, it’s so lucky to meet so many outstanding scholars, such as Donald Ritchie, John A. Neuenschwander and Nancy Mackay. Their books are very popular in China.   After all, I enjoy the journey. And now I’m a member of OHA.

Haweiya Egeh, (Wood Green Community Services, Toronto, Canada)

Paper Title:  Forced Migration and Settlement:  A History of the Somali community in Toronto, Canada

Abstract:  The Somali community is one that is maturing within Canada and the city of Toronto.  After about 20 years in Canada, I believe the time is right to document the immigration and settlement experience of the 1st generation, as well as the different yet similar experiences of the youth (2nd generation Canadians).  This is especially important in Toronto given that there has been a glut of violent incidents with young Somali men which have cast a negative light on the community and has led to questions as to why this is happening.  Is it connected to the initial settlement of these youth’s family 20+ years ago?  Is it related to various systemic failures (i.e. schools, prison system, family, etc.)?  Is there an intergenerational culture clash occurring (“back home” values vs. “Western” values)?  Can it be related to religion and the Islamaphobia that many Somali-Canadians, young and old, feel stigmatized and alienated by?  These are all questions that this project can begin to answer and I believe these answers are of interest to all Somali communities, Muslim communities and African/Caribbean communities around the globe.

Haweiya’s Comments:
At the most recent Oral History Association Conference, I had the honour of presenting my project on the Somali-Canadian community in Toronto.  The main focus of this project is the first generation of Somali Canadians in Toronto and their migration and settlement experience.  What makes this documenting unique is the fact that this cohort of Somali newcomers was the first in Toronto and indeed Canada.  Understanding their experience and history is akin to understanding the beginnings of the Somali-Canadian community, which has grown significantly in the last over 20 years.
Another component of this project will be to document the experiences of young Somali-Canadians, or the second generation, and compare their Canadian experience to their parents’.  Presenting this project to participants of the conference was a great experience.  Listeners were engaged during the presentation and very insightful during the question and answer period.
Generally, as a first time attendant of the Oral History Conference, I was impressed by the quality of the projects and studies being presented as well as the variety.  I particularly enjoyed connecting with other researchers at the conference as well as visiting the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.  It was a pleasure attending and learning at the conference and I hope to attend again very soon!  Thank you to the Oral History Association for their generosity and making it possible for me to continue to learn more about the discipline and enhance my work in the future as a result.

2013 OHA Annual Meeting overviews

We have two overviews of the 2013 meeting that give a flavor of all the great things that happened there. One was done by OHR blogger Steven Sielaff:

And the other was compiled from the various tweets done about the meeting by Jaycie Vos of the University of North Carolina’s Southern Oral History Program:

We hope you enjoy them and come to OHA 2014 in Madison!