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Oral History Program

Oral histories lie at the heart of the Museum’s mission. Our Oral History Program documents, preserves, and shares first-person stories from those who often get overlooked – missing voices in our community's history. Whether a life story told over many tales, or a single chapter focused on a particular event or topic, oral histories are the building blocks for a richer, fuller view of the past. 

Topical oral history interviews are an integral part of our community-based exhibit development process. For each exhibit, staff and volunteers record personal accounts from community members, gathering rich details that help us bring their experiences to life in our galleries. These accounts also provide context and perspective so we can better understand how events and conditions felt, what they meant, and why they matter now.

Through these exhibit-related oral histories, and by making our Oral History Lab available as a community resource, we empower people to tell their own stories, and preserve them as primary sources for future researchers. Our collection of oral history transcripts is available at the Governor Gary Locke Library and Community Heritage Center. Selected interviews are also available online. 

Oral History Lab

The Wing's Oral History Lab includes a private room suitable for audio and video recording, high-quality digital recorders, and transcription software. This community resource is available by appointment to anyone who would like to record an oral history with a family member, friend, or colleague. We provide copies of the audio recording to both interviewer and narrator, and preserve one in our archives. We also accept referrals for suggested narrators, who will be interviewed by staff/volunteers as time and resources permit. Please contact the Library for more information, or to schedule an interview in the Oral History Lab.

Collaborations and Partnerships

The Wing supports community and school-based oral history projects in various ways, including: training and/or training materials; access to the Oral History Lab’s recording and transcribing equipment; referrals to potential narrators or partner organizations; and acting as a repository for recordings/transcripts, as well as photographs, documents, and artifacts that may be collected as part of the project. 

STEP INTO A UNIQUELY AMERICAN STORY


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