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Stories: Oral Histories and Interviews

A guide to oral histories and interviews in Archives and Special Collections at Davidson College.

Header image of featuring a reel recording deck and the guide title

Oral Histories and Interviews

The Oral History Association (OHA) defines oral history as “a method of recording and preserving oral testimony and the product of that process. It begins with an audio or video recording of a first person account made by an interviewer with an interviewee (also referred to as narrator), both of whom have the conscious intention of creating a permanent record to contribute to an understanding of the past.”

Oral histories are distinct from interviews in that oral histories focus on lengthy testimonies on past events rather than purely contemporary experiences, as well as the form's emphasis on the "narrator as expert." In an oral history interview, you are asking questions to further the narrator's dialog and personal realizations rather than only accumulating information you deem relevant.

Archives and Special Collections has many oral histories and interviews in its collection and this guides is a resource for showcasing some of these audiovisual materials, as well as archival and library resources related to oral history practices. 

Audiovisual materials are media including record albums, audiocassettes, videocassettes, music cds, cd-roms, and dvds. Most of our collection deals with campus events such as convocation, freshman orientation lectures, commencements, and reunions. There are also oral history tapes related to college and town history.

This guide is organized as follows:

If you are interested in accessing these oral histories, please email for assistance.

Davidson College Library Research Guides are licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Mailing Address: Davidson College - E.H. Little Library, 209 Ridge Road, Box 5000, Davidson, NC 28035