On May 20, the Institute hosted an intimate reception honoring Senior Editor Elinor Mazé, who will retire on May 31 after thirteen years of outstanding service. During her time with us, Elinor stood at the helm, confidently steering us toward the horizon, as BUIOH navigated the sometimes choppy waters of the digital tidal wave that revolutionized the ways oral history is created, disseminated, and preserved. It was not the task she signed up for when she joined us as editor in 2001 but one for which she was uniquely qualified. With an undergraduate degree in history and two master’s degrees, including an MLS, Elinor shared our goals for historic preservation but also possessed the technical knowledge and skills required for the analog-to-digital transition. She patiently guided us through the swells of constantly changing machines and mechanics and secured our craft in the strange new ports of metadata and ContentDM. She managed to model calm for the crew without condemning any of us to walk the plank (although a lot of dusty analog equipment and old ways of thinking became jetsam).
As the current carried us ever forward, Elinor paid careful attention to our forty years’ collection of cargo, negotiating the digital scanning of more than two thousand print-only transcripts and setting in motion the continuing digitization of more than thirty-eight hundred analog reels and cassette tapes. Captain of our processing, transcribing, and editing functions, she kept us on course when variable winds in the electronic ocean required adjustments in our workflow and database. When her efforts to put our collection online succeeded, she assumed the additional role of collections manager, becoming the public face of BUIOH to researchers seeking information and for narrators’ descendants discovering their ancestors’ stories. She created and refined the search aids mapping our collection so that people worldwide could discover its buried treasures of memory.
Oh yes, she accomplished much, too, as a superior editor, workshop lecturer, scholarly presenter, and prolific author. Her writings are included in the BUIOH effort Handbook of Oral History
, on the IMLS-funded website Oral History in the Digital Age
, and in the forthcoming work Voices from the Revolution: Oral History and the Digital Humanities
. She also excelled as a skipper for other vessels, including Baylor’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair, the Oral History Association, and H-Oralhist.
Elinor has made a big splash in the wide world of oral history and leaves BUIOH shipshape and seaworthy. We will miss her greatly and will be ever appreciative of her intellect, charms, and talents. Bon voyage, Elinor!