Institute for Oral History News

BUIOH Represented at the 2013 OHA Annual Meeting

Nov. 13, 2013

On October 9-13 members of the BUIOH staff attended the Oral History Association (OHA) Annual Conference in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sessions were held at the historic Skirvin Hilton Hotel in Downtown OKC, with evening excursions also scheduled at the Oklahoma History Center and Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. Several staff members and ex-students presented at the conference: here is a brief summary of their experiences.

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Dr. Sloan presents a Native American bead art piece to Mary Larson

BUIOH Director Stephen Sloan was standing OHA Vice President for the conference and received the official gavel as incoming President at the conclusion of events. In addition to the many council and executive sessions he attended, Dr. Sloan also chaired the Campus Oral History Roundtable, emceed the evening festivities at the Oklahoma History Center, and presented outgoing President Mary Larson with a token of appreciation at the OHA Business Meeting. Dr. Sloan reflects on another event of interest to him:

"A highlight for me was the presentation by Ed Linenthal Friday evening at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. Dr. Linenthal spoke on the issues and processes of memorialization at the site of the Murrah Federal Building and other spaces associated with catastrophe, including the World Trade Center, USS Arizona, and the Flight 93 Crash site near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. His talk was challenging and thought provoking, exploring what our practices of memorialization say about our culture."

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Stephanie Renne from George Blood Audio on preservation: "Digital is not forever"

Senior Editor Elinor Maze chaired a panel entitled Archiving Oral History: Perspectives on Collection, Preservation and Curation. She shares with us her experiences at this session:

"It was over-bowlingly surprising--and very encouraging--to have a standing-room-only crowd at our EARLY Friday morning OHA session on archive practices. The M word (metadata) was thrown around many times in the course of the ninety minutes, and there was no mass exodus. Lively interest all around, with folks eager to have Nancy MacKay's survey of oral history metadata practice publicly available on an ongoing basis, and even expanded for continuing data gathering. Stephanie Renne, the audiovisual archivist at George Blood Audio & Video, quite vividly demonstrated the dangers to the long-term survival of oral history recordings posed by inattention to such basic matters as sampling rates, file compression, and metadata recording. She joined her voice to the clarion call for well established, widely disseminated, and scalable standards and tools to help oral historians do work that lasts. Yona Owens was also a hit, presenting a detailed case history of enhancing an archive collection--the Lewis Clarke Collection of the personal items, faculty and professional papers, and architectural drawings of a former North Carolina State University School of Design faculty member--with oral history materials. She showed how her project worked to make the whole readily discoverable, durably contextualized, and engagingly presented, all with relatively modest expenditure and simple-to-use technology. All in all, I left the session room with a sense that good work of oral historians is in good hands, with growing numbers of talented and thoughtful people contributing in very practical ways to its preservation."

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Michelle Holland (second from left) prepares for her panel presentation

Editor Michelle Holland presented on the newly updated BUIOH Style Guide in the New Answers to Old Questions in the Digital Age panel. Her contribution prompted some interesting questions in the Q&A portion of the session - it seems almost everyone has transcription quandaries that need addressing! Michelle talks about her favorite session of the conference:

"My favorite featured three Baylor professors--Laine Scales, Tanya Brice (now at Benedict College), and Elizabeth Goatley--who shared what they learned in their individual oral history projects that all dealt with civil rights in Louisville, Kentucky. I enjoyed their perspectives on how an interviewer can influence the answers an interviewee will give."

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Steven Sielaff (left) poses with the Oral History Review editorial team after an exquisite dinner

Newly hired University Researcher Steven Sielaff presented his work beta testing the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) in the OHMS: Enhancing Access to Oral History for Free session. OHMS is software in its second year of development out of the University of Kentucky's Louis B. Nunn Center for Oral History and Baylor University will soon be the first to install a local version for use on any number of university-based A/V projects. More info on OHMS can be found here.

In addition to his presentation Steven also volunteered for OHA at their registration desk, attended the Oral History and the Law workshop, and served as official Editorial Assistant for the Oral History Review (OHR) for the length of the conference. He blogged and Tweeted his experiences throughout on the official OHR social media platforms, then wrote a summary piece for Oxford University Press that was recently published here.

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Priscilla Martinez (left) details stories from the Crystal City, TX school system

A few former BUIOH graduate assistants were also in attendance and presented on their recent activities and research:

Priscilla Martinez (MA '13) gave a great multimedia presentation on her recent thesis research entitled "Why Just Them? We Were Beautiful Too" Crafting Identity and Constructing Community in Crystal City, Texas. Her overall panel, Myth, Memory and Malice in the Making of Mexican-American Cultural Identities, featured current work by three PhD candidates in a general field of US History that is woefully underrepresented. Priscilla is currently enrolled in the History PhD program at UC Santa Cruz.

Carlos Lopez (MA '09) took part in the popular So, What Do You Do? Concurrent Event where ten presenters have five minutes to define who they are and what they do in the field. Carlos' internet-meme themed approach was certainly a hit. Carlos is also a member of the OHA diversity committee and is currently enrolled in the History PhD program at Arizona State.

Jessica Roseberry (MA '03) presented on her recent oral history project "Shiloh Voices" in God, the Ghetto and Shiloh the Nonprofit: Views of Spirituality from Inner-City New York. Shiloh is Christian nonprofit organization in New York City that works with at-risk youth, and Jessica's parents worked for Shiloh in the 1970s. The audience really responded to her personal connection with the project, which numbers around 100 interviews total and is currently being accessioned at the BUIOH.

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OHA attendees enjoying dinner and exhibits at the Oklahoma History Center

In total the conference was a great success and BUIOH was very well represented. A big thank you to the OHA staff and everyone in the OKC area and beyond that made this meeting memorable. We look forward to many more opportunities to share our work and network with the oral history community, beginning next year in Madison, WI for OHA 2014!

Charlton Grant
Cover Sheet




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