Campus: CSU Long Beach -- December 13, 2005
CSULB Professors Complete Web Site Offering More Than 1,000 Hours of
Original Oral History Recordings
With the completion of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant,
California State University, Long Beach has completed a Web site that
offers more than 1,000 hours of original oral history recordings that
bring to life the history of the United States from the 1890s to the
1990s with a focus on women, labor, ethnic history and Long Beach community
The Virtual Oral/Aural History Archive (VOAHA) Web site, headed by Project
Director Sherna Berger Gluck and a collaborative project of the College
of Liberal Arts, the University Library and Academic Computing Services,
provides access to the full audio recordings of oral histories that
have been deposited in the Special Collections of the Library.
With its focus on orality, VOAHA brings to life the timbre and tone
of voice, the nuances of spoken language, and the richness of oral narratives
of some 343 people, including African Americans, Native Americans, Asian
Americans, Latinos/as, Southeast Asian and Southern and Eastern European
immigrants. They range from farm laborers to professionals, from social
reformers/community activists to anarchists and communists, from ventriloquists
to jazz arrangers.
“I started this oral history work in 1972 when I interviewed a
104-year-old suffragist and birth control activist,” Gluck said.
“That interview could have just sat somewhere, unused. Now I feel
I’ve created a legacy and that is very satisfying. Others can
use that interview and the hundreds of hours of interviews created by
my colleagues and students.”
The materials are organized in 30 separate series, including 600 hours
in the women’s history collection. Initiated originally as part
of the Feminist History Research Project founded by Gluck in 1972, the
collection includes the oral histories of California women who served
as rank and file activists in the national suffrage movement and more
than 250 hours of interviews with “Rosie the Riveters.”
Through the work of project co-director and local historian Kaye Briegel,
the pioneers who helped to build the commercial and cultural institutions
of Long Beach, including the university, are well represented in some
170 hours of interviews.
Interviews collected from early 1970s Asian American studies classes
capture what life was like in the Japanese fishing village on Terminal
Island until 1942, and more recent Cambodian and Hmong immigrants who
fled their war torn countries document their experiences and their efforts
to rebuild their lives and cultural institutions in Long Beach.
Workers in the oil fields of Long Beach, the garment and furniture factories
of Los Angeles, the docks of San Pedro and the fields of Rancho Los
Alamitos can also be heard in some 150 hours of audio recordings.
The VOAHA (http://www.csulb.edu/voaha)
Web site has been recognized with grants from the National Endowment for
the Humanities (PA-50028-03) and the Long Beach Navy Memorial Heritage
Association, as well as Long Beach Heritage’s Award of Merit. The
site was originally funded by a 2001 grant awarded to Gluck and Briegel
from the Haynes Foundation and was officially launched on Aug. 28, 2002.
In 2003, project members and site designers Dave Bradley and Nancy Rayner
of Academic Computing Services accepted the Accenture/MIT Digital Government
Award for the site in the higher education innovator category. This
award celebrates “exemplary achievements in the development and
delivery of Web-enabled services by federal, state and local governments
and by institutions of higher education.”
The site also received acclaim in 2004 from the International Oral History
Association when it met in Rome, and Gluck is pleased by the worldwide
impact made by the virtual archive and, particularly, with its use by
scholars and students of all ages and backgrounds.
Media Contacts: Rick Gloady, 562/985-5454, firstname.lastname@example.org
Shayne Schroeder, 562/985-1727, email@example.com