Oral Histories

American Rhetoric 
Database of over 5000 full text, audio and video versions of public speeches, sermons, legal proceedings, lectures, debates, interviews, other recorded media events, and a declaration or two! Includes the "Top 100" American political speeches as compiled by leading academics.

Archives of American Art Oral History Interviews 
The Smithsonian has been collecting interviews with American artists and photographers since the 1950s, building the Archives of American Art into a priceless repository of personal history, experience and artistic insight. Walker Evans’ first meeting with Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keefe, why Dorothea Lange trusted her instincts, Julius Schulman’s serendipitous beginnings as an architectural photographer; the Archive’s transcripts are replete with the true-life stories of great photographers. Many of the transcripts are available on the site, so prepare for hours of fascinating reading. 

British Library - Oral History of Photography
The British Library manages a well-established oral history program, which includes a project devoted to the development of photography in Britain. Interviews for this project include surviving staff members of prominent photojournalistic magazine Picture Post, Magnum Photo members Martin Parr and George Rodger, photojournalists like Mike Goldwater, noted curators and collectors, as well as “young independents” such as Anna Fox and Nick Waplington. Sadly, it looks like with the exception of a few online audio clips, all this interesting material requires a trip to London.

Caponigro: Artists on Art 
Unique insights from professionals in the photographic industry. John Paul Caponigro takes full advantage of his position amongst the movers and shakers of contemporary photography. The collection of testimonies is "a profound reflection on the nature of the medium". Whilst interviewees are diverse, Caponigro is astounded by the many commonalities they share.

Center for Digital Storytelling 
Affirming the value of the everyday stories that surround us, this Northern Californian non-profit runs a highly regarded workshop on the art and craft of modern story collecting. The site lists the Center’s impressive range of services and collaborations aimed at educating communities of all kinds, as well as classes for the “training of trainers.” 

Making Sense of Oral History
For photo researchers of all stripes, oral history can provide invaluable, first person accounts of the lives and work of those creating the images. Beyond the honest and insightful how-to information for interviewing subjects, this site provides an excellent overview of the purposes of recording a life story. Making Sense explores the story of oral history, how it can be interpreted, and how best to reveal an individual’s rich life experience. This is one of the best general oral history sites around.

Regional Oral History Office, Berkeley CA 
One of the most ambitious oral history programs in the United States, ROHO has interviewed people on a wide range on topics dealing with the San Francisco Bay Area, California and the Western U.S. Talking to everyone from PhDs to factory workers, the Office has built a vast collection of personal histories. These provide detailed information and unique insights into the lives and works of people involved in the arts, literature, science, industry and, of course, academic research, as ROHO is affiliated with the University of California at Berkeley. The office not only makes its considerable library of transcribed interviews available to the researchers, they have also designed the Advanced Oral Summer Institute, a week-long intensive on the theory, methodology and practice of oral history.

Sound Portraits 
Founded in 1994, Sound Portraits Productions produced the ground-breaking work that later forged the way for StoryCorps, the national oral-history project that has done a great deal to enrich American’s sense of themselves. This site is a library of the absolutely fascinating and truly compelling audio portraits that reveal the lives of people living on the margins of society, so often misrepresented or ignored by the general media. Although Sound Portraits has ceased production, the legacy of the Portraits continues, as works such as “Flophouse” and “Ghetto Life 101” have been published in print and/or broadcast in thousands of classrooms in collaboration with the national education outreach organization Facing History and Ourselves. To dig through the Sound Portraits site is to discover the cutting-edge style and humanist content that has influenced much of the best radio documentaries and audio art projects around today. Essential listening.  

Story Corps
In its mobile studio, a modified Jet Stream trailer, the StoryCorps project invites people in cities and towns all over the United States to record and collect their oral histories, or to explore particular moments in time. The project illustrates both how simple and how vital is the act of preserving personal memory. A selection of edited audio clips from conversations between family members, friends, lovers, enemies and colleagues can be found on this National Public Radio page.