Oral History

Since the founding of the Oral History Association in 1967, oral history has transformed the way many historians study the past. Historians use oral history to record the testimony of informants who were eyewitnesses to historical events. Oral history has provided social and cultural historians, in particular, with a rich body of evidence for historical actors who have not left written records of their experiences. This recorded testimony becomes a primary source available to a wide range of researchers once transcribed and published or deposited in an archive.

The Oral History Tool of Research at American University trains graduate students in this methodology according to the Oral History Association's professional guidelines entitled, Principles and Standards of the Oral History Association.


Students who are using Oral History as a Tool of Research qualify by passing the Oral History course, HIST 667, with a grade of B+ or better. Students must complete a TOR form in the History Department office.

See more history courses.


Oral History bibliography (compiled by Dr. Pamela Henson)

Oral History Listserv

Vermont Folklife Center: Guide to Field Recording Equipment

Vermont Folklife Center: Field Recording in the Digital Age

Hunt, Marjorie. The Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History Interviewing Guide. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 2003.

Oral History Association. Oral History Principles & Best Practices. Oral History Association, 2010.

The State of Recorded Sound Preservation in the United States: National Legacy at Risk in the Digital Age, Library of Congress, August 2010

Fact Sheet on Video Preservation

International Oral History Association

Oral History Association

Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region

British Oral History Society

Online Collections

Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

British Library Oral History Collection

Center for History and the New Media, George Mason University, includes September 11th Digital Archives

Center for the Study of History and Memory, Indiana University

Columbia University, Oral History Research Office

Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina

Institute for Oral History, Baylor University

Minnesota Historical Society Oral History Collection

Nevada Test Site Oral History Project, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Project Jukebox, University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Oakland Chinatown Oral History Project, Oakland Asian Cultural Center

Regional Oral History Office, University of California

The American Century Project, St. Andrews School, Potomac, Maryland

The Whole World Was Watching: An Oral History of 1968, South Kingston High School and Brown University, Rhode Island

United States Senate Oral History Collection

University of Connecticut at Storrs, Oral History Office

Veterans Oral History Project, Library of Congress

Vietnam Center and Archives, Texas Tech University