The Oral History Archive began in 1968, founded by Oscar O. Winther as an initiative to collect the history of Indiana University for its Sesquicentennial. The enormous potential of oral history as a research and pedagogical tool was quickly apparent, and the project expanded as other research studies were added to the archive.
When John Bodnar became the project’s director in 1981, he changed the Oral History Project’s name to the Oral History Research Center to reflect its broadened scope and its mission to preserve, collect, and interpret 20th-century history through the medium of first-person testimony. The center’s mission encompassed archival, pedagogical, and research goals in the field of oral history, with particular emphasis on the history of Indiana and the Midwest.
In 2002, the center again expanded its mission when it became the Center for the Study of History and Memory to address the growing interdisciplinary field of memory studies, of which oral history is one important facet. The archive became part of the Center for Documentary Research and Practice when the two centers merged in 2015. The archive is also part of University Collections.
The archive’s analog recordings were digitized by the IU Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative. The interviews have served as a unique resource for research, education, and documentary projects on a wide range of topics.Browse the archive