Thanks to a 2014-2015 award through the University Libraries’ Innovation and Program Enrichment Program, we are currently working on providing access to audio and enhanced transcripts for the oral history interviews conducted as part of our African American Institutional Memory Project.
These interviews with African American alumni from the 1960s and 1970s, which typically are an hour or more in length, provide in-depth information about an interviewee’s contributions to and viewpoint on their time at WC/UNCG. Often these interviews provide valuable personal insight into history in a way that the official university records cannot. Student researchers in particular find the oral history interviews interesting, as they present a perspective that is often more relatable to them.
Currently, access to these oral histories is provided primarily through the interview transcript (the word-for-word text of the interview). Audio recordings are available on CD if requested, but access to these recordings is not provided online. The transcripts are among the highest ranked downloads from across the University Libraries’ digital collections, yet the process of finding relevant information within the transcripts is often challenging due to their lengthy nature.
With the project funds, a second-year graduate student from the Department of History is working with us to use an open-source tool (the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer, developed by the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries) to enhance access to oral history audio recordings online and time-synch the audio recordings to existing transcripts. This will allow researchers to more readily search each oral history recording for relevant information and quickly skip to certain key topics discussed in the interview.
At the conclusion of the project in June 2015, it is anticipated that at least 25 enhanced oral history audio recordings and accompanying transcripts will be made available to researchers online. We also hope to build a web exhibit that highlights some of the key stories told in these interviews.
October is Archives Month, an annual observance of the agencies and people responsible for maintaining and making available the archival and historical records of our nation, state, communities and people. As part of the month-long celebration, this blog is highlighting some of the innovative and exciting work being done in Special Collections and University Archives.