2015 TOHA Annual Conference Recap

April 30, 2015

The Texas Oral History Association (TOHA) held its fourth annual meeting this past Saturday at the Texas A&M University – Commerce campus in Commerce, TX. Around seventy-five attendees listened to presentations across eight sessions during the one-day conference. Eric Gruver, who served as President of TOHA during the conference and is head of the East Texas War & Memory Project, noted, “TOHA enjoyed having such a diverse attendance, from middle school students who completed an oral history project to seasoned, published oral historians who welcome with open arms anyone interested in oral history.”
During the luncheon, the editor of TOHA’s annual publication, “Sound Historian,” Dan Utley presented the Ken Hendrickson Best Article Award to Milton S. Jordan for his work “Civil Rights and College Journalism: Mark Lett and the 1961 Southwestern University Megaphone.” Also at the luncheon, attendees heard from the Texas State Historian, Bill O’Neal, who recounted how vital oral histories have been in his career and to many of his over twenty publications on Texas history and culture. Bill also gave a panel presentation on “Moonshiners and Bootleggers of Old East Texas” that brought many head nods and chuckles from the primarily-East Texan crowd.
BUIOH was also well represented at the meeting. Longtime TOHA Secretary/Treasurer and BUIOH Associate Director Lois Myers managed publicity and lunch reservations for the conference and planned the TOHA board meeting held at the end of the day. Lois noted that, “Each year the TOHA conference draws increasing interest from people across the state. Participants not only enjoy presentations that inform and inspire but also find opportunities to connect with fellow Texans who share their research interests and face similar challenges in gathering and preserving oral history collections.”
Senior Editor and Collection Manager Steven Sielaff gave a presentation “Current Trends in Oral History Technology” that highlighted the positive changes in recent years in audio recorder quality/price, long-term and short-term preservation storage, and online tools to help share oral history projects with the world. Steven also served as Vice President of the TOHA board for the meeting, and was elected as President for the upcoming 2015-2016 term. Steven shared, “It was wonderful to see so many young faces at the meeting. They all seemed so excited about what they learned from the oral history process, and eager to continue their work and return again to the conference next year.”
University Researcher Jessica Roseberry also presented at the annual meeting. Her topic “Church of Christ Texans: Mid-Century Journeys to the Great Northeast” drew from her own research and oral history interviews centering on Camp Shiloh, a Church of Christ entity that sought to serve the underprivileged urban children of New York City. The first transcripts from her project were recently added to our online collection, and can be viewed HERE. Jessica was also chosen as program chair for the 2016 TOHA annual meeting. After the conference she commented, “It was a pleasure to see so many diverse oral history projects from across Texas. This is a positive, informative meeting that gives us all a chance to learn from each other and to make new connections.”
TOHA will return to Waco and Baylor for its fifth annual meeting on April 23, 2016. We look forward to the challenge of continuing the growth and success of these meetings as we strive to connect the stories and resources of oral historians across our great state!
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