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Oral History @ VT: Resources

This guide brings together resources relating to conducting and transcribing oral histories, and includes the best practices for collecting oral histories and donating them to Virginia Tech.

Oral History @ VT: Best Practices, Style Guide, and Forms

Special Collections and University Archives uses the forms and style guides below. When designing your project, refer to the Oral History Association's best practices available below. Please share deeds of gift with your interviewers and narrators, and edit transcripts according to the style guide.

Recording and Editing Audio

Recorders and microphones are available for checkout at Media Studio A on the fourth floor of Newman Library and may also be available in your academic department. 

 

Remember to hold interviews in a comfortable and safe environment with minimal noise from air conditioning units, traffic, cell phones, and household appliances. Sound booths on the fourth floor of Newman Library are available for checkout through Media Studio A. Oral historians can also schedule time to record in the Media Den, located on the first floor of Newman Library, through The Athenaeum.

 

Newman Library has several spaces with equipment to edit oral histories, including Media Design Studio B, on the second floor, and the Media Den, on the first floor. You may also choose to edit on your own, using available software.

Oral History Manuals

You can find these how-to guides online or in the stacks. Search the library catalog for more books and e-books about oral history. 

Oral History Beyond VT

Before you begin your own project, look into other collections to see what kinds of interviews have already been recorded. The universities below have a substantial number of interviews concerning Virginia, the South, and Appalachia in their archives.

 

Library of Congress

With hundreds of thousands of audio recordings, some dating to the nineteenth century, the Library of Congress is a great starting point for researchers. Highlights include indigenous language recordings, interviews with formerly enslaved African-Americans, folk songs and folk stories, and over 60,000 interviews from men and women who served in the American military from World War I through the Iraq War. 

 

Archives of Appalachia at Eastern Tennessee State University

The Archives of Appalachia includes over 85,000 sound recordings, mostly of old time, bluegrass, and country music. Interview topics include music, coal mining, farming, economic change in Appalachia, and the Great Depression. 

 

Discovery Virginia

This database compiles original research supported by Humanities Virginia and includes several hundred oral history interviews conducted across the state from the 1980s through the present. Collections highlight Virginia music and folklife, FBI history, occupational history, Civil Rights history, and indigenous history. Larger collections come from the Northern Neck, Martinsville, Danville, Carroll County, and Amherst County. New content is added continuously. 

 

Digital Library of Appalachia

The DLA brings together archives from institutions in the Appalachian College Association, including several in Virginia and others in neighboring states. Oral history clips, usually shorter than a full interview, highlight music, tradition, and folklife, and the histories of the Civil War, prohibition, and the railroad. Many oral histories in the collection were conducted in the 1960s and 1970s. 

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Southern Oral History Program

SOHP holds over 6,000 interviews conducted between the 1960s and the present. Their collections include interviews about Southern politics, work and labor organizing, the Civil Rights Movement, and healthcare. They also offer resources like events, internships, how-to guides, and scholarships. 

 

The University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

The Nunn Center holds 13,000 interviews in almost 600 collections. Their specializations include the histories of agriculture, alcohol, Appalachia, extractive industries like coal, Kentucky politics, and quilts. 

 

Baylor University Institute for Oral History

Baylor University has archived around 4,000 interviews in over 200 collections. Their collections highlight the history of genocide, memories of World War II, religious and Baptist history, and history of Texas and the Lower South. The Institute also holds in-depth online workshops available at their site. 

 

The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida

SPOHP holds over 8,000 interviews in 100 different collections, conducted between the 1960s and the present. Their largest collections highlight life in Eastern Virginia, the Civil Rights Movement in Florida and Mississippi, Native American History, and Florida business and agriculture. 

 

Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ Oral History Project

Founded in September 2015, the Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ History Project researches and tells the stories of LGBTQ+ individuals and organizations in Roanoke and surrounding areas. The collection includes a walking tour, online exhibit, and dozens of interviews conduced by Roanoke College students and Professor Gregory Rosenthal.

 

Columbia Center for Oral History

The Columbia Center for Oral History is one of the oldest oral history programs in the country, with interviews dating from the 1940s onward. While collections often relate to nationally significant people and events, such as the John F. Kennedy project and the September 11 Response and Recovery Project, the archives also hold extensive collections on Southern intellectuals and the Civil Rights Movement in the South. 

 

Professional Associations and Journals

To learn about the work of other oral historians, and about issues they confront today, check out publications issued by the field’s professional organizations. In addition to the short list below, search for state and regional organizations in your area: