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Oral Histories: How to Research  

Resources available through Western Libraries and its Heritage Resources programs.
Last Updated: Jul 17, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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A guide to finding oral histories through Western Libraries, focusing on resources available through the Heritage Resources programs or online.

Guide to the Collection of Oral History Interviews on Whatcom County (Wash.) and Regional History 


What is Oral History?

Oral History.

Definition   n. ~ 1. An interview that records an individual's personal recollections of the past and historical events. – 2. The audio or video recordings, transcripts, and other materials that capture and are associated with such an interview.

Citations   †156 (Klopfer 2001, p. 112): Documents described as oral histories range from personal reminiscences to structured interviews to recordings of contemporary thoughts or events saved for posterity. The arrangement of oral histories also range from raw tapes to edited tapes, translations, transcripts, re-wordings, syntheses and interpretations.

[Definition from Richard Peace-Moses, A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology. Society of American Archivists, 2005 (accessed 2011 April 25)].


Where Can I Access Oral Histories?

Western Libraries staff can assist you in accessing published works about or containing oral histories. Useful terms for searching the libraries catalog include: "Oral history" and "oral tradition."

We also encourage you to access oral history transcripts and recordings available through Western Libraries' Heritage Resources programs (see "Oral history collections at Western").


    Resources from the Western Libraries Catalog

    Oral History Forum d'histoire orale
    Full-text articles (WWU Log-in required). Oral History Forum d'histoire orale is the journal of the Canadian Oral History Association.

    Oral history review
    Full-text articles (WWU log-in required). The official publication of the Oral History Association, containing "articles, book and film reviews, and bibliographies deal with the verification of human experience and research findings in oral history." [sic].

    Oral history: an interdisciplinary anthology - Dunaway, David K. and Willa K. Baum
    "A collection of classic articles by some of the best known proponents of oral history, demonstrating the basics of oral history, while also acting as a guidebook for how to use it in research."

    Washington State Oral/Aural History Program - Rune, Anne.
    Transcripts from oral histories conducted in the 1970s, including interviews documenting lives and experiences of African Americans and Filipinos in Washington State. Available on microfilm at CPNWS or through Western's main library.


    More Campus Connections

    WWU's Fairhaven College and Woodring College of Education offer credit courses about oral history and oral traditions in storytelling. Check out the WWU Course Catalog for more information.  

    Heritage Resources

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    Heritage Resources
    Contact Info
    Special Collections, 6th Floor Wilson Library, 360-650-3193

    University Archives and Records Center, Goltz-Murray Building, 360-650-3124

    Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Goltz-Murray Building, 360-650-7534
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    Heritage Resources


    Western Libraries Heritage Resources provides for responsible stewardship of and access to unique and archival resources in support of teaching, learning and resarch at Western Washington University and beyond. The Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Special Collections, and University Archives and Records Management work together to document the culture and history of Western, the local community and Pacific Northwest region, and to promote public and scholarly access to holdings.



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