Note: AHA Today has featured oral history in numerous past blog posts. This post along with the previous February 3rd post roundup some of these previously mentioned oral history resources as well as introducing some new sources.
Much like podcasts, oral history projects seem to be growing by the week, covering countless historical eras and events. Last week we ran a post introducing a few of these online oral history resources, and today we survey more of these projects.
Suffragists Oral History Project
This project started in the early 1970s as a part of the Bancroft Library’s Regional Oral History Office, interviewing 12 notable figures from the women’s suffrage movement. Most of these women were born in the 1860s through the 1890s. They shared their experiences during the fight for women’s right to vote, and many of them extended their “careers as leaders of the movements for welfare and labor reform, world peace, and the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.”
The following snippets are taken directly from the project’s web site:
- Helen Valeska Bary (1888-1973) – Campaigned for woman’s suffrage in Los Angeles and later had a prominent career in labor and social security administration
- Sara Bard Field (1883-1974) – A mother, lover, poet, and social and political reformer, whose interactions with California artists and political activists gave her a national profile
- Burnita Shelton Matthews (1894-1988) – A District of Columbia federal judge
- Alice Paul (1885-1977) – Founder and leader of the National Woman’s Party, which made suffrage a mainstream issue through public demonstrations and protests
- Jeanette Rankin (1880-1973) – A Montana suffrage campaigner and the first woman elected to Congress, who recalls Carrie Chapman Catt, the League of Women Voters, and her lifelong work for world peace
- Rebecca Hourwich Reyher (1897-1987) – Gives an account of working with Alice Paul in organizing the Woman’s Party
- Mabel Vernon (1883-1975) – Credited for the advance work of gathering the throngs of people to greet Alice Paul and her entourage on their famous coast-to-coast suffrage campaign in the fall of 1915
Sherna Gluck, director of the Feminist History Research Project, conducted the remaining five interviews, capturing the passion and conviction behind these suffragists’ fight for equal voting rights.
May 4 Oral History Project
Sandra Perlman Halem created the May 4 Oral History Project in 1990 to preserve the memories of those who were witness to and participated in the student demonstration gone awry at Kent State University in 1970. The demonstration was in response to President Richard Nixon’s decision to invade Cambodia, thereby expanding the Vietnam War. The protests began on Friday, May 1st, one day after the invasion became public knowledge; however, the protests grew unruly, with confrontation breaking out between protestors and police, resulting in the Ohio National Guard being called to monitor and control the protests. Unfortunately, the National Guard opened fire on the crowd of protestors, leaving four dead, one permanently paralyzed, and eight wounded.
This project includes “accounts by eyewitnesses as well as a wide variety of viewpoints: Kent State alumni, faculty, staff and administrators who were on campus that day; residents of the city of Kent; National Guardsmen; campus and city police; hospital personnel; and other persons whose lives were affected by these historic events.”
The Rutgers Oral History Archives
The Rutgers University oral history archives features stories from alumni and New Jersey residents who fought in World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, and Vietnam. The site allows users to search for interviews based around the following indexes: alphabetically, by Rutgers class year, by war, by military branch, by military unit, by medals. The site also features a special topics section with interviews from those who were interned by the Japanese, Germans, other forces, and neutral powers.
The Chicago Architects Oral History Project
The Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Architecture created the Chicago Architect’s Oral History Project in 1983 to capture stories from the people who participated in the city’s architectural beginnings, from the early 20th-century through today. These oral histories are meant not only to document the past, but also to “explore motivations and influences, behind-the-scenes stories, and personal reflections.” Each oral history contains an interview transcript and mini biography. By sharing their stories about their individual journeys to architecture, they in turn recount international histories, as many of these architects originate from other countries.
Iranian Oral History Project
This oral history project from Harvard features interviews from 118 witnesses to and participants in political happenings in Iran from the 1920s to the 1980s, many of which include personal accounts from political leaders.
Check back for future oral history related posts, read some of our previous coverage (country music, Story Corps, and more), and let us know in the comments of other resources in this area that you’ve found valuable.