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Education Committee Blog

OHA Education Committee member Katie Kuszmar is passionate about oral history, using it as a tool to foster community and “support collaboration for [environmental] sustainability.” You can read more about her work at

Following the publication of her article “From Boat to Throat: How Oral Histories Immerse Students in Ecoliteracy and Community Building” in the Oral History Review, Oxford University Press highlighted Kuszmar in their January 2015 blog post, “Building community and ecoliteracy through oral history,” by Andrew Shaffer. Through a series of question and answer exchanges, Kuszmar explains how she utilizes oral history with her students to engage them in making history while also enabling them to learn about local sustainable fishing practices and consumption. Learn more about the project at

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International Committee Blog

Upcoming International Summer School of Oral History in Prague – September 5 – 13, 2016

Instructors will include Rob Perks (UK), Alexander von Plato (Germany), David King Dunaway (USA), Monika Vrzgulová (Slovakia), Miroslav Vaněk (Czech Republic), Pavel Mücke (Czech Republic) and other teachers from our Department of Oral History – Contemporary History.

Registration due by April 30, 2016

For more information

See attachment for Call for Registrations. Summer School_Call for Applications [439593]

Scholarship Applications – Mark Your Calendars

Applications to the Oral History Association Annual Meeting Scholarships will be posted in March.  Check for updates.

XIXth International Oral History Conference, June 27-July 1, 2016, Bangalore, India

If you are planning to attend this conference, the following website has details on the conference scheduled, scholarships, registration, visas, accommodation and more:

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International Committee Blog

Many thanks to International Committee member Mirek Vaněk for writing the following blog this month:

New Release:

Velvet Revolutions.  An Oral History of Czech Society

Miroslav Vaněk

Pavel Mücke

The Velvet Revolution in November 1989 brought about the collapse of the authoritarian communist regime in what was then Czechoslovakia. It also marks the beginning of the country’s journey towards democracy. This book examines what the values in so-called real socialism were, as well as how citizens’ values changed after the 1989 collapse. In Velvet Revolutions, Miroslav Vaněk and Pavel Mücke analyze and interpret 300 interviews on citizens’ experience of freedom and its absence, the value of work, family and friends, education, relations to public sphere and politics, the experience of free time, and perception of foreigners and foreign countries. The interviewees are drawn from a wide range of professions, including manual workers, service workers, farmers, members of the armed forces, managers, and marketing personnel. All of the interviewees were at working age during the last twenty years of the communist regime and during the post-revolutionary transformation. From this rich foundation, the book builds a multi-layered view of Czech history before 1989 and during the subsequent period of democratic transformation.

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International Committee Blog


Many thanks to International Committee member Hannah Gill for writing the following blog this month:


The New Roots/Nuevas Raíces Latino Oral History Initiative Launches Bilingual Digital Resources

The growth of Latino communities in the U.S. South is one of the most significant demographic changes in the recent history of the nation. The New Roots/Nuevas Raices Oral History Initiative, established in 2007 to document this history from the perspectives of migrant newcomers, is pleased to announce the launch of a new website and digital information system in January of 2016. The website, designed to enhance global access to the collection, will feature an innovated version of Omeka software, a free and open-source library, archive, and museum standard web development/content management system. Specifically, New Roots software developers have enhanced Omeka internationalization by creating a Spanish language interface, improving the security of the platform, creating new plug-ins, and developing interoperability with the universities’ content DM system, where interviews are archived.

The New Roots/Nuevas Raíces oral history collection currently consists of more than 150 digitized interviews in Spanish or English related to Latino migration to North Carolina and the formation of Latino communities. In-depth interviews in this collection consist of immigrants of Latin American origin, U.S.-born second generations, professionals who work with immigrants, policy-makers, religious leaders, educators, students, and business owners. The collection features a digital catalogue, finding aids in English and Spanish, audio recordings of interviews, abstracts, and full transcripts. New Roots/Nuevas Raíces is an ongoing research initiative of the Latino Migration Project at the University of the North Carolina at Chapel Hill in collaboration with the Southern Oral History Program and University Libraries, which assist with digitization, catalogue, and preservation of audio recordings and transcripts.

The new bilingual website will make the New Roots collection more accessible in Spanish and English to regional, national and global public constituencies that include Spanish-speaking interviewees and their families, public educators, researchers and students, and oral history colleagues in Latin American countries. We hope that these technologies will not only enhance the utility of the New Roots Oral Histories, but also other archival collections in institutions that are rapidly digitizing their libraries’ content repositories and seeking to improve global access to scholars’ work. In 2016 and 2017, New Roots staff will engage in outreach activities to share the new resources with Latino communities, K-16 educators, national and international oral history networks, and Mexican universities in the origin states of migrants living in North Carolina. These activities have been made possible with the support of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.



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International Committee Blog

It is with great sadness I submit this monthly blog.  The passing of Cliff Kuhn, the OHA Executive Director, is such a great loss and my sympathies go out to his family, friends and colleagues.  The Oral History Association’s Annual Meeting in Tampa was excellent this year due to the efforts of Cliff and Gayle Knight.  Cliff’s energy and passion for oral history will be truly missed.

This month we hear from two International Scholarship recipients who presented their papers at the OHA annual meeting in Tampa:

The OHA conference in Tampa, Florida was the third OHA I have attended, and what a rewarding experience it was, again. Given that my permanent location is 6000 miles away in South Africa, having this opportunity to attend an OHA is a rare and special experience.I presented my paper entitled, “The practice, limits and meaning of empathy in oral history” on the first day of the conference.

The session was well attended and the unusual mixture of papers dealing with empathy, compassion and mindfulness in oral history interviewing triggered a lively discussion and several productive differences were illuminated.  My own presentation was well received, and the questions and feedback from the audience will usefully  guide my reworking of the conference paper into a journal article. As with previous occasions, I was struck by the smooth and very efficient conference organization, and a special acknowledgement of the superb job done by Cliff Kuhn and Gayle Knight is necessary. I thoroughly enjoyed several sessions and the opportunity to have extended conversation with oral historians from across the USA and many from other countries was invaluable. Sessions dealing with trauma, memory and various post-violence themes were especially informative to my on-going work on these themes.

Finally, my sincere thanks and appreciation to the OHA international committee for granting me this scholarship to attend the Tampa conference.

Best wishes, Sean Field, University of Cape Town, South Africa


The Oral History Association conference was very instrumental for my development as an oral history researcher and presenter.  This opportunity helped me acquire some tools that I will use in my professional work and research. The conference also helped me to present my research to scholars who then gave me suggestions on how to improve it. The scholarship helped me to cover part of the expenses that I incurred to attend the meeting.

As a full time student it would have been impossible for me to cover the expenditure to attend as well as hotel, airfare and registration. Without the scholarship, I will not have the opportunity to attend, present and participate of the conference.

Jorge Mercado, Puerto Rico


In October I attended the 2015 OHA Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida thanks largely to a generous scholarship from your committee that assisted with travel and conference costs. I want to take this moment to thank you for this opportunity. The scale of this conference far exceeded my expectations (and I had heard wonderful things). The program was packed with an incredible range of workshops, seminars, and presentations from a broad range of people. It really highlighted the diverse and innovative uses of oral history in this interdisciplinary field. From the moment I arrived, I felt welcomed into this community of established and emerging scholars. I met incredible people and learned about the great work that is being done. The conference theme ‘stories of social change’ was ideal for me to reflect on and share my research on single and/or lesbian mothers. Again, thank you for the chance to share my work in an international context, but more importantly thank you for the opportunity to learn from the members of the American oral history community. I return to Australia for the final write-up of my doctoral thesis with a renewed sense of excitement and inspiration with regard to the power of oral history and the importance of sharing these stories of social change.

Christin Quirk, Australia

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International Committee at the Annual Meeting

The Oral History Association’s Annual Meeting in Tampa was excellent. I want to thank all who came to the International Committee meeting and thank our international scholarship recipients for their terrific papers.

Here at the comments of two of the international scholarship recipients:

My first experience at the OHA Annual Conference was fantastic. There were many interesting panels, and my own paper was well received and fun to present to an American audience. The walking tour of Ybor City was also worth the trip to Tampa itself. Our guide was a joy, bringing the neighborhood to life and making us laugh with several stories that I assume only he could tell with such panache. I greatly appreciate the support of the OHA International Scholarship which enabled me to make the journey and attend. I hope to return in upcoming years and see familiar faces from this time around.
Adam King, PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The meeting theme on the power of oral history to uncover links between political and cultural change and to inspire civic engagement interested me greatly. My paper based on my work as the oral historian for an oral history project with Sudanese refugees and the various sectors in the community who helped Sudanese people in their new Australian environment matched the conference theme. Presenting the project and its important issues of trauma, cultural awareness, and language as it affects an oral history project and involving children among others was an honor in an atmosphere of professional camaraderie. I loved being with like-minded professionals passionate about oral history and I sensed genuine interest in all the presentations. There was a real sense of aiming for excellence in the field and working with, and learning from, other professionals. The conference tone was academic but not pompous; it was learned but practical as well.

It was also a fun meeting. The Newcomers’ breakfast was a treat and a great chance to network with a range of participants. I loved the Speed Networking; I was a bit nervous about it because Speed Dating is definitely ‘before my time’! I had no idea how it worked but it turned out to be a great way to learn about different aspects of oral history. The various performances were fabulous. I liked the poster displays too with their visual representations of projects. The conference was expertly run.

Overall, possibly the nicest part of being in Tampa for the 2015 Annual Meeting was its friendliness and being in an exciting setting of learning more about knowing someone’s story and preserving it.
I was successful in receiving a scholarship from the conference organizers and that was a much appreciated fantastic help because Australia is so far away – after a plane delay which then caused a missed connection it took me 30 hours to get to the USA but it was worth it. I’d love to come again.
Carol McKirdy, Australia

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International Committee Schedule at the Annual Conference

The Oral History Association’s Annual Meeting in Tampa is quickly approaching. Some things you might be interested in attending are:

The International Committee is meeting on Thursday, October 15, 2015, 12:00 – 1:00 PM at the Tampa Marriott Waterside 3, Florida Salon 3. All are welcome so please attend. If you would be interested in being on this committee please email Leslie McCartney, International Committee Chair at ude.a1618949848ksala1618949848@yent1618949848raccm1618949848l1618949848.

The International Committee scholarship awardees this year will be speaking on the following days and times:

Sean Field (South Africa)
Thursday, October 15, 2015; 1:15 – 2:45 PM
Tampa Marriott Waterside, 3, Meeting Room 4
Panel: Listening Compassionately, Mindfully, Empathically, and Cooperatively in Oral History Interviews
Paper: The Mean, Practice and Limits of Empathy in Oral History

Adam King (Canada)
Friday, October 16, 2015; 10:215 – 11:45 AM
Tampa Marriott Waterside, 3, Meeting room 3
Panel: Revealing Resilience: Workers’ Narratives of Life and Labor
Paper: Make Sense of Change: Sudbury Mine Workers on the 2009 Vale Strike

Carol McKirdy (Australia)
Saturday, October 17, 2015; 3:15 – 4:45 PM
Tampa Marriott Waterside, 3, Florida Salon 3
Panel: Stories that Move [with] Us: Oral History in Migration and Diaspora
Paper: South Sudanese Refugees in Southern Sydney: A Community Oral History Project

Jorge Mercado (Puerto Rico)
Thursday, October 15, 2015; 1:15 – 2:45 PM
Tampa Marriott Waterside, 3, Florida Salon 3
Panel: Oral History and New Narratives of U.S. Latin@Experience
Paper: The Migration of Puerto Ricans to Houston, Texas, from 1950 to 2010

Christin Quirk (Australia)
Friday, October 16, 2015; 3:30 – 5:00 PM
Tampa Marriott Waterside, 3, Meeting Room 3
Panel: Life Stages and Identity
Paper: Single and Lesbian Mothers: Narratives of Resistance and Change

Looking forward to meeting everyone in Tampa, Leslie McCartney

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International Scholarship recipients to present at OHA annual meeting

This is our last blog highlighting abstracts of papers to be given at this year’s OHA Annual Meeting in Tampa by the International Committee Scholarship recipients.

Christin Quirk:

Panel: Life Stages and Identity

Presenting Author on individual submission: Single and Lesbian Mothers: Narratives of Resistance and Change

While it is widely accepted that political activism by lesbian and gay groups, and the women’s movement in the early 1970s was central to changing social attitudes in Australia, the contributions of single and lesbian mothers is less evident and more problematic. Dominant discourses of motherhood were at odds with feminist ideals; ‘the mother’ with child was to be revered only within the framework of a specifically defined nuclear family structure: any variation from this model family has been subject to negative social pressure(s). Presenting an exaggerated threat to heteronormative patriarchal structures of family, single and/or lesbian mothers have challenged ‘traditional’ notions of family with a fluidity and diversity of family structures. More importantly, these ‘alternative’ families have prompted a host of research that has consistently shown that it is family processes (such as the quality of parenting and relationships within the family) that contribute to determining children’s well-being and ‘outcomes’, rather than family structures. This paper will examine interviews with single and/or lesbian mothers who raised their children over the last forty years to locate narratives of resistance and change.

Hope to see you all at the OHA Annual Meeting in October.

Leslie McCartney

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International Scholarship Presentations at the 2015 Annual Meeting

This is our second blog highlighting abstracts of papers to be given at this year’s OHA Annual Meeting in Tampa by International Committee Scholarship recipients.

Carol McKirdy, Australia
Panel: Stories that Move [with] Us: Oral History in Migration and Diaspora
South Sudanese Refugees in Southern Sydney: A Community Oral History Project

This project captured history of local community Sudanese immigration history by recording the narratives of recent Sudanese refugees and citizens in the community who assisted and engaged with them to help settlement in Australia. Narratives of people from Caringbah Anglican Church, Gymea Community Aid Information Service, Sutherland Shire Council and TAFE NSW Sutherland College were recorded. The project documents Australian Sudanese immigrant community history, recollections of life in Africa including war, civil unrest and diaspora, the Dinka language and images. Ownership of the project belongs to Sudanese people.

The oral histories help people understand more about Sudanese people living in the community demonstrates how refugees settle and how the community supported immigrants. The project helps the community’s understanding of cultural diversity, fosters history preservation, builds capacity of the community to understand the unique circumstances of Sudanese refugees, reduces racism and breaks down barriers through building awareness of people who were new settlers and appeared different, enables second generation Sudanese children to learn family history, creates unique, Australian History educational resources as the oral histories are published on a wiki and linked to educational websites, provides models for future immigration records, encourages community participation with newly arrived migrants and fosters social inclusion and harmony. The project included narratives from Sudanese children who experienced significant and uncommon childhood events and had valuable contributions to make because of their unique understanding. Their short recordings tell history from a child’s viewpoint. To collect their stories, Sudanese children participated in a version of Vox Populi.

Narratives are poignant in their retelling of diasporic and traumatic lives as people moved around Sudan seeking safety and freedom from conflict, then to Kakuma refugee camp and finally to Australia to establish new lives in peace. The Sudanese histories won’t be forgotten and left untold.

Jorge Mercado, Puerto Rico
Panel: Oral History and New Narratives of U.S. Latin@ Experience
The Migration of Puerto Ricans to Houston, Texas, from 1950 to 2010

“The Migration of Puerto Ricans to Houston, Texas, from 1950 to 2010” is a research study and the final dissertation project to fulfill the requirements of the Doctoral degree program at the Complutense University of Madrid in Spain in the History Department by the researcher. The purpose of the research is to determine the factors that influence the history of the migration of Puerto Ricans to Houston, Texas from 1950 to 2010, a non-traditional site for migration of Puerto Ricans and one of the new sites for settlement of this Diaspora. Because of the lack of statistical data available from 1940 to 1990 most of the information has been obtained by oral history interviews. This paper will discuss the project, focusing on the impact and importance of oral history interviews as an informational source that provides the necessary documentation and framework to enhance the contributions and history of this ethnic group in Houston, Texas.

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