Oral history work is the subject of the current exhibit at OSU’s Valley Library. The exhibit, called “Catching Stories: The Oral History Tradition at Oregon State University,” has been curated by library faculty of the Special Collections and Archives Research Center (SCARC) and mounted in the foyer of the library’s Douglas Strain Reading Room. The exhibit on the Valley Library’s fifth floor traces how oral history interviews have been collected on campus over time as well as the major subject areas that OSU’s oral historians have emphasized through the decades. 

Since 2011, faculty and staff in the library’s Special Collections and Archives Research Center have completed more than 400 oral history interviews, and the department is home to more than 30 processed oral history collections, with another half dozen collections currently being populated and described. The library has nearly 1,000 oral histories in total going back to 1949.

The exhibit is organized into five categories – Horner Museum, OSU’s 150th, Cultural Communities, History of Science, and Oregon Agriculture – and features text quotes, photos of people who have provided oral interviews, video clips, a selection of audio interviews, and vintage recording equipment loaned from the Benton County Historical Museum. 

“We are grateful for the work our past colleagues did to record these stories,” states library archivist Tiah Edmunson-Morton, “and proud of the work we continue to do to document the voices of our communities and creators. Our hope is that this exhibit inspires people to explore our collections or conduct their own interviews, but also to spend time talking with their families and friends about the lives they’ve led.” 

The current exhibit will be on display until March, and there will be events in conjunction with the exhibit happening during winter term. Many of the collections highlighted in this exhibit are available in digital form, either online or upon request. For links to collections that are online, visit the SCARC Oral History Program website at http://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/oralhistory.html.

The Special Collections and Archives Research Center at the library can also facilitate the work of OSU students who would like to pursue oral history interviews for academic credit. Interested students are encouraged to contact the Special Collections and Archives Research Center at scarc@oregonstate.edu. 

The oral history exhibit was curated by Tiah Edmunson-Morton, Natalia Fernández and Chris Petersen, with the assistance of OSU students Estefania Arellana, Gillian Bergmann, Emily Brown, Aimee Hisey, Christopher Russell and Sydney Wisner. The iPad app used to display selections from our video recorded oral history collections was created by Mike Eaton of the OSU Libraries’ Emerging Technology Services department.

Posted - March 01, 2017