New oral histories available online

We are pleased to announce the online availability of three new oral history projects. They include:

The Extension & Outreach project features oral histories conducted with staff members who have served more than 40 years at ISU. Staff members interviewed include: Cheryl Clark, Joel DeJong, Donna Donald, Russ Euken, Paul Lasley, Jack Steven Van Laar, and Barbara Woods,

The Mathematics project features interview with ISU Department of Mathematics faculty. To date, interviews have been conducted with James Cornette, A. M. Fink, and Wolfgang Kliemann. Additional interviews are in the works.

The Voces of a Pandemic project features oral histories conducted by the the ISU U.S. Latino/a Studies Program, focused on Latinx in Iowa, and as part of a consortium with the Voces Project at UT-Austin exploring the Stories of the Latina/o Community Affected by the Coronavirus. Interviewees include: Joanne Camacho, Pat Ferrusca, Luis Gonzalez, Giselle Guardado, Ryan Guerra, Maria Hernandez, Ernesto Jimenez, Caleb Knutson, Kenji Nakata, Abi Perdomo, Sonia Reyes, Andrea Rivas, Diego Rodriguez, and Laura Rodriguez. Additional interviews are in the works and supported by an ISU Miller Grant.

Oral History Toolkit workshop

Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA) will be holding a workshop for the ISU community focused on its Oral History Toolkit. The Toolkit provides an easy way for individuals to capture and share recordings using readily available technology, including cell phones, tablets, laptops, and/or audiovisual recording equipment. SCUA designed the process to be flexible to incorporate both individuals who record their own stories and interviews between two parties. The Toolkit was intentionally designed to accommodate several use cases so that equipment/technology is not a barrier. The project utilizes Google Drive for file and project management. Its collaborative editing, sharing, and forms functionality makes it a great tool for group projects. Plus, it integrates well with mobile and desktop apps for easy uploading and editing of files. Whether you plan to conduct oral histories for a project or for personal use, this workshop will provide the means for conducting and preserving high-quality interviews.  

Please feel free to share with those who might be interested. 

Date: April 6th, 2022 

Location: Parks Library 405 

Time: 3-4 PM 
Register online here. 

Preserving communities through oral history workshop

We’re happy to announce the second in a series of community archives workshops. This workshop explores the theory and practice of oral history, a field of study that documents the past through first-person interviews conducted in the present-day with an emphasis on creating space for community organizations which might not have had access to oral history projects. SCUA staff will examine various means for community members to plan, conduct, and share oral history projects using SCUA’s Oral History Toolkit. The Toolkit provides community members with both a Quick Start Guide and more detailed Manual for those who want to stand up their own projects. The workshop will explore these two tracks, incorporating exercises for developing questions, interviewing, recording, and sharing interviews. Whether you plan to share recordings with relatives or are interested in donating them to an archive, this workshop will provide the means for conducting and capturing high quality interviews.

Register for workshop here.

Time: 9-1030AM

Location: Ames Public Library, 515 Douglas Ave, Ames, IA, 50010

Two new oral history collections online

We are pleased to announce the online availability of two new oral history collections: the Department of Mathematics Oral History Project and the Extension and Outreach Oral History Project. The former includes interviews conducted with Department of Mathematics professors AM Fink, James Cornette, and Wolfgang Kliemann. Additional interviews are underway. The Extension and Outreach Oral History Project features interviews with staff members who have served more than 40 years at Iowa State. Interviewees include: Barbara Woods, Cheryl Clark, Donna Donald, Jack Steven Van Laar, Joel DeJong, Paul Lasley, and Russ Euken. Both collections have been captioned and are accessible via Aviary, a platform incorporating closed captioning, synching of captions with media, and full-text searching.

Collaboration is Our Name and Projects are Our Game

Often the first thing people think of when they think of SCUA is our collections and researching in our reading room. This is not a bad thing. We work very hard to make our collections accessible, but we are not just a repository for research. We teach primary source instruction, provide reference service to not only the campus community but the general public, and we love a good project!

What kinds of projects? All kinds of projects!

  • Screenshot of HBCU connections homepage.
  • Graphic with red background with image of someone typing on laptop in corner. COVID-19 Stories Project You tell the story, we'll do the rest. Share and preserve your COVID-19 experience today. To get started, visit: specialcollections.lib.iastate.edu/about/projects/covid-19
  • Screenshot of the Oral History Toolkit guide

For more information on these and other projects visit our Projects page.

Do you have an idea for a project? Are you interested in collaborating with us but not sure what’s possible? Let us know! We are happy to brainstorm and think of ways we can work together.

Contact us at archives@iastate.edu.

Oral History Toolkit

We’re pleased to announce a new project to foster oral history projects at ISU and beyond. Called the Oral History Toolkit, the goal of this project is to provide the opportunity and means for individuals and groups to plan, conduct, and share oral history projects.

While SCUA is fortunate to have conducted many oral histories over the last 50 years, it is a fraction of all the stories that can and should be preserved. This project seeks to expand those stories to provide a fuller, more inclusive representation of Iowa State and surrounding communities. All stories are welcome. 

In achieving this goal, we recognize that a balance must be made between quality recordings and providing low-barrier, easy-to-use means for capture. As a result, we outline a variety of options so that projects can get carried out with available means yet still maintain a sufficient level of quality for long-term access and research use. 

A second balancing act concerns documentation. We all appreciate simplicity and minimal instructions—just get to the point please. Yet for many individuals, conducting oral histories and submitting them to an archives are totally new concepts. As a result, we try to provide succinct, to-the-point instructions to get you up and running without overburdening you with unnecessary details. We therefore offer two sets of documentation, a simple Quick Start Guide and an in-depth Manual.

Incorporating collaborative, distributed workflows, the Toolkit provides an easy way for individuals to capture and share recordings using readily available technology, including cell phones, tablets, laptops, and/or audiovisual recording equipment. We’ve designed the process to be flexible to incorporate both individuals who record their own stories and interviews between two parties. We also have equipment that can be loaned for project use if needed. We’ve tried to accommodate all use cases so that equipment/technology is not a barrier. 

The project utilizes Google Drive for file and project management. Its collaborative editing, sharing, and forms functionality makes it a great tool for group projects. Plus, it integrates well with mobile and desktop apps for easy uploading and editing of files. Since this project is open to all, we’ve set the sharing settings to Public so anyone can access it. Documentation (including guides and forms) and folders for individual project files are accessible here. If participants are concerned about access to files, project coordinators can set up an administrator to govern access and manage folder and file settings more granularly. This is common for oral history projects so we are used to accommodating these types of requests.  

Materials submitted as part of Toolkit projects will be deposited within SCUA. Since Iowa State’s fundamental mission is advancing knowledge, the default access setting on these materials is “World”–meaning that anyone can view the materials and download individual files. We realize, however, that some projects may deal with sensitive topics and participants may not want to share files so widely. Thankfully, our systems offers different levels of access, including embargo periods, and visibility. 

Oral histories will be added to a new collection in Aviary. In addition to showcasing projects, this platform allows for media streaming, captioning, and full-text searching and synching of transcripts. 

Have an idea for an oral history project? Contact us at archives@iastate.edu to share it and begin the discussion. We’ll help you plan the project and ensure that it gets done right.

Honors Seminar oral histories now online

We are pleased to announce the online availability of twelve oral histories conducted as part of the Honors Seminar 321J: Documenting the Past: An Introduction to Oral History. The seminar, taught by Library staff, explored the theory and practice of oral history, a field of study that documents the past through first-person interviews conducted in the present-day. The oral histories, available via Aviary, feature interviews of Iowa State alumni, faculty, researchers, staff, and/or other individuals affiliated with the university.

Oral history of Michi Hirata, hiroshima survivor, online

We are pleased to announce the online availability of a five-part oral history with Michimasa (Michi) Hirata (MS 1967, Chemistry), a survivor (Hibakusha) of the Hiroshima atomic bomb dropped on August 6, 1945. Michi was originally scheduled to visit campus as part of the ISU Lecture Series, but because of COVID was interviewed in May at his home in Japan via Zoom. Clocking in at close to nine total hours, part explores background, early life, WWII, and the Hiroshima bombing; part two continues with the Hiroshima bombing and end of WWII; part three explores occupied Japan, the Press Code, and Michi’s education; part four explores his professional career, family, and the beginnings of his activism; part five continues with his activism and concludes with his reflections. The interview is available via Aviary, a cloud based platform featuring closed captioning, synching of captions and audio, and full text searching of captions. Users can also access an edited transcript.

Here’s a brief description in Michi’s own words of that terrible day:

About 1.2 miles away from epicenter of the atomic bomb explosion, I was sitting in my home with my father and aunt. Luckily, I escaped burns and serious injuries. Our house, however, was completely destroyed by fire, which spread throughout the block. Thanks to the wind direction and big open space existing between the next block, the houses beyond the block away from the center of Hiroshima were not burned down. My block was the edge of a burned-out area of entire Hiroshima city. Due to daily air raids, children had been evacuated away from Hiroshima city based on school groups and families. My mother and two sisters were living at our relative’s cottage (7 miles away) as we evacuated. Late afternoon that day when the fire calmed down, my father and I tried to go to the family evacuation spot. However, very hot roads jammed with full of burned debris, tangled electricity wires, and wounded and dead blocked our way. My father decided to take a detour walking on the railway bank and crossing the bridge of still burning railroad ties. Finally, very late that night we arrived at the evacuation spot and jumped for joy to as the family was reunited.

Aviary for AV

We are pleased to announce the availability of Aviary–a cloud-based platform for publishing searchable audio and video content. Aviary allows users to sync captions with audio, use closed captioning, search transcripts, and navigate to the exact place where a term is found. In line with the Library’s commitment to accessibility, the platform will enable us to provide all users with meaningful access to our rich audiovisual collections.

Here’s a sneak peek from our COVID-19 Stories project (click on image to open):

As of today, eight collections are available via Aviary. They include:

College of Veterinary Medicine Oral Histories
Oral histories conducted with professors in the College of Veterinary Medicine. 

COVID-19 Stories
This project seeks to record how faculty, students, staff, alumni, and others are responding to and dealing with the effects of COVID-19.

HIST 489: The World at War: The Vietnam War, Fall 2019
Interviews conducted by students as part of Professor Amy Rutenberg’s class HIST 489: The World at War: The Vietnam War, Fall 2019.

Mary Jean Logan Sweet Curtiss-Wright Engineering Cadettes Records
Oral history project done with participants of the Curtiss-Wright Engineering Cadettes Program. Sponsored by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, this was a nationwide program designed to ease wartime labor shortages, and also included more than 700 female students. The program at Iowa State was an intensive course in aeronautical engineering. The students received a certificate upon completion of the ten-month course (February to December 1943), and were then hired by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation for the duration of the Second World War. As they completed the course, the Curtiss-Wright Corporation paid for the students’ room and board, and provided a salary of ten dollars per week.

Voices in Color
This project seeks to document, preserve, and share the history of racial and ethnic diversity at Iowa State University through the lens of communities of color, inserting these stories into Iowa State’s historical narrative and archival record.

Voices from the Land
Oral history project done in conjunction with the Iowa Women’s Archives at the University of Iowa documenting women involved in agriculture and farming, with the exception of Fred Kirschenmann.

WOI-TV News Clips
WOI-TV was the first television station owned and operated by an institution of higher learning in the U.S., beginning in February, 1950. At that time, the station was the only one to televise a regular schedule of programming into central Iowa, until 1954. The station was truly unique in that as an educationally owned television station, WOI-TV was also granted a commercial license by the FCC. WOI-TV’s pioneering activities in applying television to education helped stimulate support for the institution of educational television across the United States.

Women in Chemistry Oral History Collection
The Archives of Women in Science and Engineering (Iowa State University Library) sponsored an oral history project focused on women who have devoted their careers to the study of chemistry in the post World War II era. The project, funded by the ISU Library, the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, and private donors, documents the careers and experiences of women in chemistry and chemical engineering to illustrate the critical role of women in science.

More collections will be added when ready. For more information please contact us at archives@iastate.edu.

Voices in Color now online

We are happy to announce that fourteen oral histories conducted as part of the Voices in Color Project are now available online. Featuring searchable captions and synced audio and text, the interviews are available via Aviary, a cloud-based platform for publishing searchable audio and video content.

Voices in Color seeks to document, preserve, and share the history of racial and ethnic diversity at Iowa State University through the lens of communities of color, inserting these stories into Iowa State’s historical narrative and archival record. Launched by Dr. Liz Mendez-Shannon (former Project Director for Hispanic/Latinx Affairs in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion); Harrison Inefuku, Scholarly Publishing Services Librarian; and Petrina Jackson, former head of SCUA; this project has two goals:

  • Document, preserve, and share stories of communities of color at Iowa State University through the conduction of oral history interviews and the creation of a project website;
  • Provide opportunities for networking, socializing, and community building for Iowa State faculty, students, and staff of color by facilitating gatherings to launch and celebrate the project.

Two organizations have been selected for oral history interviews thus far—the Black Faculty and Staff Association and Lambda Theta Alpha. Additional project team members include Rachael Acheson, Assistant University Archivist, and Rosie Rowe, AV and Film Preservation Specialist. Additional administrative partners include the Division of Diversity and Inclusion and the Iowa State University Digital Press.

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