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Amp Up Your Archives!

What are oral histories?

The short answer: It is a person's story in their voice. Oral histories are created to get first-hand accounts about a specific topic or event. Oral histories and oral traditions have been around for centuries, but were not seen as formal history as western society preferred the written word as a historical record. Oral histories therefore make room for voices that traditional record keeping practices have excluded. 

There are some examples of oral history projects from the surrounding area. The Asian American Reproductive Justice Oral History Project held at Smith College in Massachusetts and the New York City Trans Oral History Project, which served as a great resource for the Amp Up oral history projects. Local examples on Princeton’s campus include the LGBTQIA+ Oral History Project, the Brave Voices Project, and oral histories for senior theses.       

Oral history projects with Mudd Library

All proposed oral history projects intended for donation to Mudd Library should be discussed well in advance by emailing scoh@princeton.edu. A staff member will contact you for a meeting to discuss your project’s scope, release forms, recording audio, transcription, transferring the files, and to answer any questions you may have about the process. 

Transcriptions of the audio (or in some cases video) are a requirement for any oral history project given to the Mudd Manuscript Library, in order to provide access to researchers. Please make sure that all file names (audio/visual and transcripts) include the name of the interviewee. For example, Smith_John.wav and Smith_John.pdf, if an interview is divided into several parts, Smith_Jordan_part_1.mp3, Smith_Jordan_part_2.mp3 with one transcript file for interviews.