Ronald E. Marcello is an oral history pioneer in Texas whose career as a history professor and director of an oral history program at a major state university has touched the lives of thousands of people and helped to launch, guide, and provide counsel to countless oral history projects in and outside of the Lone Star State. Marcello has devoted his professional life to teaching history, gathering the recollections of individuals who have shaped and/or witnessed the events of our past, and ensuring that these recollections are preserved and made available to researchers. For his work in promoting, serving, and teaching oral historians from 1968 to the present, Marcello is an ideal candidate for the Thomas L. Charlton Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by the Texas Oral History Association.
Marcello came to North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) in Denton in 1967 as an instructor of history. By the next year, he was appointed director of the Oral History Program on campus, a program that was in its early stages of development. Shortly after his appointment, Marcello enrolled in the UCLA summer institute for oral history to learn more about the methods and practices of oral history. In 1969, he received his Ph.D. from Duke University and began devoting a significant amount of his time to building the North Texas Oral History Program.
Marcello’s work with the program has focused on four basic areas. First, he has worked closely with the university’s Oral History Committee to establish an efficiently run and highly productive program. As director, Marcello reports to the committee, drafts budgets, supervises the personnel who process the tapes and prepare transcripts, ensures that the program adheres to the highest professional standards, raises funds, and helps determine the focus of the projects undertaken by the program. Second, he has conducted many of the interviews that have been added to the North Texas program since the late 1960s and supervised the processing (transcribing, auditing, describing, and cataloging) of 1,411 volumes (through 2001) and some 100,366 pages of transcript.
Third, he has taught thousands of individuals the techniques and methods of oral history, including graduate students at North Texas and avocational researchers who have attended one of the thirty-one workshops he has conducted across the country. Last, he has served the profession in a number of capacities, including advisor or consultant for twenty-five oral history projects sponsored by institutions as varied as the Lewisville Public Library and the Library of Congress, Executive Secretary of the Oral History Association from 1976-1986 and President of the association in 1988-1989, and member of the Executive Board of the Texas Oral History Association in 1983-1985.
Marcello has also published widely in the field of oral history. He has incorporated many of the interviews that have been conducted for the North Texas program into his research, producing ten journal articles, three monographs, six encyclopedia entries, two catalogs/finding aids for the program, and numerous other publications. Marcello has received numerous awards and distinctions, including the Certificate of Appreciation from the Texas Pearl Harbor Survivors Association in 1974 for his work in interviewing survivors of the surprise attack; the Certificate of Appreciation from the National Pearl Harbor Survivors Association in 1975; the Professional Service Award from the Mid-Atlantic Oral History Association in 1985; and, in 1992, the H. Bailey Carroll Award given by the Texas State Historical Association for the best article in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly for his work “Lone Star POWs: Texas National Guardsmen and the Building of the Burma-Thailand Railroad, 1942-1944,” an article largely based on oral history.
Marcello has presented eighteen papers on oral history to historical societies in the U.S., served as commentator or discussant on twenty-six panels at professional organizations, and made sixty speeches about oral history at colleges, churches, fraternal groups, historical associations, and other local organizations. In short, Marcello has been a tireless promoter of oral history, a devoted teacher and university program director, a hard working interviewer, an award winning scholar who has mined the interviews in his publications, and an individual who has served the profession on both the national and state level.
For his work on behalf of oral history, we recommend that he receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.
TOHA Board of Directors 2003
Gerald Saxon, President
Diane L. Ware, Vice President
Shelly Henley Kelly, Robert Mangrum
Thad Sitton, Jo Ann Stiles, Rebecca Wright