Oral History

What is “oral history?”

In Doing Oral History, Donald Ritchie explains, “Oral History collects memories and personal commentaries of historical significance through recorded interviews.  An oral history interview generally consists of a well-prepared interviewer questioning an interviewee and recording their exchange in audio or video format.  Recordings of the interview are transcribed, summarized, or indexed and then placed in a library or archives. These interviews may be used for research or excerpted in a publication, radio or video documentary, museum exhibition, dramatization or other form of public presentation.”

Did you know that Edinboro University is home to one of the
few publicly accessible oral history labs in the country?

The Oral History Studio at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania is dedicated to being a community asset to northwestern Pennsylvania as well as an academic asset to Edinboro University.  The Oral History Studio is committed to the school’s primary mission to “create and share knowledge by providing access to education and learning experiences for the academic, cultural and personal growth of the students and the larger community.”

At the Oral History Studio at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania their motto is “One Voice at a Time” because they believe that every person’s voice is valuable to understanding the past. Collections in the Oral History Studio include the experiences of men and women from northwestern Pennsylvania in World War II, citizens of Franklin Township documenting the changes in their community, the Urban History Project, the Race and Ethnicity Project, the oral histories of many of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, and the Women of Little Italy Project, among many others.

The Oral History Studio operated for a decade or more under the direction of Dr. Joseph Laythe who summed up what the studio does by saying “we record one voice at a time until we get to the larger picture of who we are as a people.”  Anyone who would like to have their voice added to the understanding of our history are encouraged to join the hundreds of people who have already done so by make an appointment to be recorded.

History, Anthropology and World Languages Department
Hendricks Hall, Room 146
235 Scotland Road
Edinboro, PA 16444
Phone: (814) 732-2575

Online Resources
Oral History Association
Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Library of Congress (Several digital collections include oral histories.)