September 30, 2008
By David Darlington
The Country Music Foundation, Inc. (CMF), which operates the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tennessee, has just completed a major oral history project. The project involved re-recording and transcribing interviews with 638 individuals involved in the country music industry since the 1920s. The project was supported by a $213,475 National Endowment for the Humanities Preservation and Access Grant, awarded in 2001. CMF matched this figure, making the total project budget $426,950. “We are indeed grateful to NEH for its generous support,” said CMF Senior Historian John W. Rumble, “and we look forward to expanding our collection in the years ahead.” These conversations with performers, songwriters, and business personnel are housed in the Frist Library and Archive at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The archive’s interviews, artifacts, sound recordings, films and videotapes, songbooks, sheet music, business files, books, historic and current periodicals, photographs, and song manuscripts document the history of country music as art and enterprise from its folk origins to the present.
Although the CMF does not intend to make recordings of entire interviews available online, they do have excerpts from certain interviews available on the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum web site. Visitors to the site should go to "Multimedia Center" and peruse the item descriptions for select interviews (Chet Atkins, Jimmie Davis, and Patsy Montana, to name a few). Similar clips will be added in the future. Additional details about the Oral History Collection can be found elsewhere on the site. Perspectives on History may have a longer treatment of the Oral History Project in a future issue. Those interested in the project can also contact John Rumble at email@example.com.