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oral history


  • Originally published 08/21/2013

    James Sterling Young, oral historian, dies at 85

    James Sterling Young, who established the country’s only program dedicated to compiling comprehensive oral histories of the American presidency, and who also amassed a vast oral history of Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s career, died on Aug. 8 at his home in Advance Mills, Va. He was 85.His death was announced by the Miller Center at the University of Virginia, which studies politics, policy and the presidency. The center houses the Presidential Oral History Program, of which Professor Young was the founder and longtime chairman.An award-winning historian of 19th-century American politics, Professor Young, who retired in 2006, was at his death an emeritus professor of government and foreign affairs at Virginia. He was previously a faculty member and administrator at Columbia University....

  • Originally published 06/07/2013

    Why the Boston College Oral History Ruling Isn't a Victory

    Boston College motto: "Ever to Excel," engraved on the Bapst Library on campus. Credit: Wiki Commons.The journalists are mostly wrong. A federal appeals court decision in Boston this week is a victory, of sorts, but not for oral history. Neither is it much of a victory for Boston College, which filed the appeal. In the end, the university merely protected confidential archival material that its own curious negligence put at risk. (Read the First Circuit's complete opinion here.)

  • Originally published 06/07/2013

    Oral histories of war vets by LC

    Thursday is the 69th anniversary of D-Day, when U.S. forces stormed the shores of Normandy during World War II.A project aims to save American military history. They are just a few of the thousands of stories of America's war veterans being preserved by the Library of Congress."'So don't fret and tell pa not to get hysterical. Love Butch,'" said Bob Patrick as he read aloud from a letter.It's called The Veterans History Project, and Patrick is the director."We're not trying to recreate history or rewrite history or disprove history," said Patrick. "Really, what that experience was like for those who go off to war and most importantly at the end, what did it all mean to them."...

  • Originally published 05/13/2013

    Michael Beschloss to receive Rutgers award

    NEW BRUNSWICK — The Rutgers Living History Society will present its 2013 Stephen E. Ambrose Oral History Award to presidential historian Michael Beschloss, familiar to millions of Americans for his many appearances on PBS’s “The News Hour.”The Rutgers Living History Society, comprised of participants in the Rutgers Oral History Archives program, will honor Beschloss at its annual meeting on Friday. Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi will present the award.“Oral history — the art of listening to people tell their own stories, and then making those stories available to others — is an essential tool of every practicing historian,” Beschloss said....

  • Originally published 04/03/2013

    Hitler's food taster: one bite away from death

    It might have been something as simple as a portion of white asparagus. Peeled, steamed and served with a delicious sauce, as Germans traditionally eat it. And with real butter, a scarcity in wartime. While the rest of the country struggled to get even coffee, or had to spread margarine diluted with flour on their bread, Margot Wölk could have savored the expensive vegetable dish -- if not for the fear of dying, that is. Wölk was one of 15 young women who were forced to taste Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's food for some two and a half years during World War II.The 24-year-old secretary had fled from her parents' bombed-out Berlin apartment in the winter of 1941, traveling to her mother-in-law's home in the East Prussian village of Gross-Partsch, now Parcz, Poland. It was an idyllic, green setting, and she lived in a house with a large garden. But less than three kilometers (1.9 miles) away was the location that Hitler had chosen for his Eastern Front headquarters -- the Wolf's Lair....

  • Originally published 03/18/2013

    Capturing the stories of Hurricane Sandy's survivors

    For survivors of Hurricane Sandy in Long Beach, N.Y., the stories have become familiar by now, riveting in spite of — or perhaps because of — their similarities. Deciding not to evacuate, because Tropical Storm Irene was not so bad. Watching the water rise and rise and rise. Losing cars, basements, then more. Spending weeks at a relative’s home.They are all variations on a theme of fear and suffering, of water and darkness, and Mary Anne Trasciatti wants to hear every one of them.

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Hofstra professor interviews residents to weave oral history of Sandy's impact

    A young mother worried that weeks of upheaval after superstorm Sandy would cause her baby daughter to feel insecure for a lifetime.A sixth-generation Island Park resident watched as water flooded his family home for the first time since it was built in 1930.A woman recently widowed, who moved to Long Beach to start a new life just two months before the storm, wondered if she had made a big mistake.One by one on a recent Saturday, they sat in a black chair in a coffee shop, across from Mary Anne Trasciatti, a Hofstra University professor whose mission is to stitch these disparate memories into an oral history of a coastal community caught in the path of a historic storm.Ms. Trasciatti's subject is her home on Long Island for the past 14 years: the barrier-island city of Long Beach, along with nearby communities such as Island Park. Floodwaters touched virtually every block in the area....

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    How Harriet Tubman’s story was saved

    March 10, 2013, will mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Harriet Tubman, a fearless conductor on the Underground Railroad. She is greatly admired for her bravery in guiding slaves to freedom and for her generous spirit. But for many years, her story was in danger of being forgotten.When Harriet was a slave in Maryland, her owner hired her out at 7 years old to do housework. She later worked on a farm plowing fields and chopping wood. But she was determined to be free. One night, when she was 27, she escaped — traveling north to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, mostly by walking at night. During the day, she would sleep in the woods on a bed of pine needles.Between 1850 and 1860, Harriet helped other slaves, including family and friends, escape north to freedom. She had to disguise her identity and take enormous risks, but she was never captured....

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    Clifford M. Kuhn leads strengthened oral-history group

    Clifford M. Kuhn became the Oral History Association's first full-time executive director on January 1, at a time when the discipline of oral history is burgeoning because of digital advances, but also when it faces ethical and legal challenges.Mr. Kuhn, who is 60, is an associate professor of history at Georgia State University. He will continue to teach part time while leading the group, which since 1966 has supported the gathering and preservation of historical information via recorded interviews.A longtime oral historian, Mr. Kuhn has relied extensively on interviews for books, articles, and radio series about Atlanta, Martin Luther King Jr., and Southern history and life. Using interviews and archival materials, he is working on a history of the life of Arthur F. Raper, a sociologist who studied sharecropper exploitation in the South in the mid-20th century....

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