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Oral history: Getting Started

This research guide helps to give students a place to start in looking for information about the practices and uses of oral history

Online oral history projects

This site provides links to oral history projects that have been placed online.  The first link is to a source that has attempted to index several online projects.

University Archives Oral History Collections

The University Archives does collect oral histories relating to its goals as listed in the collection development policy.  This includes local and university history.  Some materials have been processed and are available for use such as the Ferris Heritage Lecture Collection.  The University History Task Force has also had a project since the early 2000s to collect selected oral history interviews.  For more information about this, please contact University Archvies staff.

Where to start

Oral history is defined by Wikipedia as "the collection and study of historical information about individuals, families, important events, or everyday life using audiotapes, videotapes, or transcriptions of planned interviews."

There are a number of secondary sources available in FLITE about the uses and techniques of oral history.  In addition to these peer-reviewed sources, there are a number of online sources which also provide excellent information.  And there are always new sources that FLITE may not be aware of yet, so please let us know about those.

Some useful websites

American Association for State and Local History

This site provides an online bookstore of publications relating to the topics of oral history and its uses.  They also provide training program.s

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History- University of Kentucky Libraries

This site gives sample forms, equipment and project management suggestions.

National Park Service Guide to Oral History

This site helps to detail the process of conducting an oral history program.  It provides a link to best practices and successful projects.

Oral History Assocation

This is an official organization for oral historians.  The stide includes wikis, listservs and a variety of digital resources.

Step by Step Guide to Oral History

This provides a detailed listing of the activities needed to create and sustain an oral history project.

University Archivist/ Special Collections Librarian

Melinda Isler's picture
Melinda Isler
University Archives
Alumni 101
410 Oak Street
Big Rapids MI 49307
(231) 591-3731

Using the University Archives

The University Archives and Records Management Reading Room is located in Alumni 101, in the heart of the oldest building on campus. Because of the unique materials and the program mandate to preserve those materials, there are special rules concerning use that do not apply to the general library collection.

We are here to assist you in your research to the best of our ability. Limited reference materials are available in the reading room. All other materials are retrieved on an on-call basis and used in the reading room facility. Materials are non-circulating and may only be used under direct supervision of UARMP (University Archives and Records Management Program) staff. Photocopying is done by staff. For further information on using the University Archives, please review the Guidelines for Use of the Ferris State University Archives.

The University Archives typically provides reference service from 8:00 - 12:00 p.m; 1:00 - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday and by appointment