Thursday, October 01, 2009

Houston Oral History Interviews Now Online

The Houston Oral History Project, a collaboration among the Mayor's Office, the Houston Public Library, and the University of Houston now has interviews available online. The oral history project consists of three parts:

  • The Mayor Bill White Collection of 100 initial interviews of well-known political, business and civic leaders. These interviews are available in the digital archives of the Houston Public Library, and copies are deposited at the University of Houston.
  • The Neighborhood voices recordings created in the summer of 2008 by citizens who came to Houston Public Library locations to record their recollections about life in Houston. These will be digitized in the near future.
  • HMRC (Houston Metropolitan Research Center) Oral Histories. This research center of the Houston Public Library has digitized more than 200 oral histories of artists, musicians, civil rights activists, politicians and civic leaders from the 1970s and 1980s. Click on one of the 200 names listed on the website to listen to the interview. At present interviews for names listed in bold are accessible digitally.

The project has several Rice University connections. Historian Dr. Louis Marchiafava joined the project at Rice in l974 before moving to the Houston Public Library as director the their research center. Marie Wise, the Houston Public Library's digital projects manager, worked at Rice's Digital Media Center on the TIMEA (Travelers in the Middle East Archive) project. Rice University's Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning worked with two middle school teachers at Hogg Middle School to teach middle school students how to interview WWII veterans from the Heights area. They created an oral history project entitled The Heights Remembers World War II. Melinda Wolfrum, a Rice University history major, edited the students' videotapes and interviewed them about what they learned in the process. Rice employees Tom Bisciglia and Eric Rombokas helped make excepts of the videos available on the Internet.

For more details about the Houston Oral History Project, see the Houston Chronicle's Sept. 29, 2009 story Homespun tales now on Web.