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OHA Statement on Charlottesville

In the wake of the violence this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, the leadership of the Oral History Association (OHA) joins its members in broad condemnation of the acts of hatred that took place there.  Since our founding over 50 years ago, OHA members have frequently been called upon to document the stories of those who have faced racism and intolerance.  These powerful narratives remind us how important it is to speak out against instances of oppression, and we continue to reaffirm our organization’s commitment to the core values of inclusivity, respect, diversity and the rejection of the rhetoric of hate, division, exclusion, and discrimination.

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.

New Edition of “Oral History and the Law”




Oxford | October 14, 2014

Hardcover | 176 Pages | $74.00 | ISBN 9780190209872

Paperback | 176 Pages | $24.95 | ISBN 9780199342518

According to the Oral History Association, the term oral history refers to “a method of recording and preserving oral testimony” which results in a verbal document that is “made available in different forms to other users, researchers, and the public.” Ordinarily such an academic process would seem to be far removed from legal challenges. Unfortunately this is not the case. While the field has not become a legal minefield, given its tremendous growth and increasing focus on contemporary topics, more legal troubles could well lie ahead if sound procedures are not put in place and periodically revisited.

A GUIDE TO ORAL HISTORY AND THE LAW is the definitive resource for all oral history practitioners. In clear, accessible language it thoroughly explains all of the major legal issues including legal release agreements, the protection of restricted interviews, the privacy torts (including defamation), copyright, the impact of the Internet, and the role of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs). The author accomplishes this by examining the most relevant court cases and citing examples of policies and procedures that oral history programs have used to avoid legal difficulties.

Neuenschwander’s central focus throughout the book is on prevention rather than litigation. He underscores this approach by strongly emphasizing how close adherence to the Oral History Association’s Principles and Best Practices provides the best foundation for developing sound legal policies. The book also provides more than a dozen sample legal release agreements that are applicable to a wide variety of situations. This volume is an essential one for all oral historians regardless of their interviewing focus.

John A. Neuenschwander is Professor Emeritus of History at Carthage College. He also served as a municipal judge in Kenosha, Wisconsin for more than 25 years before retiring from the bench in 2012.

OHA member Pamela Henson wins Smithsonian Award

Pamela Henson, Director of the Institutional History Division at the Smithsonian Institution, was awarded the Secretary’s Gold Medal for Exceptional Service by Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough, on December 4, 2014.  Dr. Henson has been at the Smithsonian since 1973 and is the historian for the history of the Smithsonian.  She has managed the Institution’s oral history program since 1974, working with both audio and video in analog and digital media.  Among her interviewees have been a 102 year old astrophysicist who worked at the Smithsonian for 78 years, pioneering women administrators at the Smithsonian, and the craftsmen and women who create the Institution’s exhibits, maintain the historic gardens, and preserve artifacts, natural history specimens, and documents.

Jacquelyn Dowd Hall Reflects on Four Decades of Oral History Work

From North Carolina Public Radio:

Founder of UNC Southern Oral History Program Reflects on Four Decades of Work


When Jacquelyn Dowd Hall started the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 40 years ago, documenting the lives of ordinary people was not part of most history departments.

Telling the stories of minority communities, particularly African-Americans and women, ran counter to the academic endeavors sanctioned by many universities. But Jacquelyn saw an importance in preserving the stories and perspectives of people from all walks of life. And she insisted the program be fully integrated into the history department at Carolina.

Her tenacity paid off and four decades later, the Southern Oral History program is one of the preeminent repositories for oral histories in the region. Host Frank Stasio talks with UNC professor emerita Jacquelyn Dowd Hall.

Listen to the interview at:


OHA Announces New Host Institution

The Oral History Association has recently concluded its national search for a new institutional home and its first executive director. The process began last year, when Dickinson College informed us that it was not in a position to renew its contract. We are pleased to announce that the search is over, and OHA has signed a five-year contract with Georgia State University (GSU) in Atlanta. The OHA offices will be based in GSU’s History Department. In addition to housing OHA, GSU will also be providing the association with its new executive director, Dr. Cliff Kuhn. We are all very pleased and excited, and we look forward to working with GSU and Cliff beginning January 1, 2013. This move marks an important opportunity for growth and development for both the association and the field. Annual conference participants will have the chance to talk with Cliff at the Cleveland meeting, where there will be a session for people to share their ideas and thoughts regarding the association.  More details will be available in the upcoming OHA Newsletter.