Oral history is the subject of a new exhibit at OSU’s Valley Library, called “Catching Stories: The Oral History Tradition at Oregon State University.”
The work has been curated by library faculty of the Special Collections and Archives Research Center 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 have completed more than 400 oral history interviews, which are part of 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 dating to 1949.
The exhibit is organized into five categories: Horner Museum; OSU’s upcoming 150th anniversary; Cultural Communities; History of Science; and Oregon Agriculture. It 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 and proud of the work we continue to do to document the voices of our communities and creators,” said library archivist Tiah Edmunson-Morton. “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 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 http://scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/oralhistory.html