Campus: CSU Long Beach -- April 30, 2003

National Endowment for the Humanities Awards $161,000 Grant to Oral History Program at Cal State Long Beach

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded a two-year, $161,045 grant to the Oral History Program at California State University, Long Beach to fund its Virtual Oral/Aural History Archive (VOAHA).

Program director and grant recipient Sherna Berger Gluck, a professor of history at Cal State Long Beach, said she sees the grant as recognition of the site’s special strengths and uniqueness.

“There are very few Web sites like it,” said Gluck, who noted that the grant period begins May 1. “What is unique and innovative about our archive is the focus on orality/aurality – on presenting the actual voices of narrators, not written versions of their interviews. Imagine a fifth-grader doing research and going to this Web site. Imagine hearing the participants’ actual voices!”

Gluck noted that only 59 of the 288 NEH grants were for preservation and access projects; and only three of these, including CSULB’s, had anything to do with oral history. The site provides access to the full audio recordings of oral histories that have been deposited in the Special Collection of the University Library enabling users to hear the voice, pitch and rhythm of the narrations as well as the emotions they convey.

With the NEH grant, Gluck said the program can put up another 575 hours of interviews, which includes the largest chunk of the program’s women’s history and ethnic history collections. Most of those involved in the NEH review process commented on how the oral/aural history archive helps not only seasoned scholars but also offers accessibility to students.

“Once we add the 575 hours to the site, under this grant, close to 1,000 hours will be available,” says Gluck. “It will be possible to type in a topic and every single segment dealing with this topic across 1,000 hours of interviews will be available. Can you imagine what this means for doing research, or for teaching?”

The VOAHA site, partially funded by an initial $50,000 grant from the Haynes Foundation in 2001, was officially launched at the university on Aug. 28, 2002, with 300 hours of Los Angeles basin oral histories. These interviews covered Long Beach area history, labor history and women’s history, including 40 hours of interviews with California women who were rank and file activists in the national suffrage movement.

Last fall, the project was awarded an additional $15,000 grant by the Long Beach Naval Memorial Heritage Association to add 50 more hours of narratives to the archive; and in February, it was recognized with the Long Beach Heritage’s Award of Merit.

The staff of the VOAHA project includes co-director Kaye Briegel of CSULB’s History Department and Academic Computing Services staff Dave Bradley, Walter Gajewski and Nancy Rayner. Briegel, Gluck and Rayner presented a prototype of the project, the first of its kind in the United States, to the Southwest Oral History Association conference in April 2002.

The CSULB oral history collections have been assembled from a number of sources and cover topics ranging from women’s social history and ethnic studies to Long Beach area history and the arts in Southern California. Some of the interviews in the Asian American, Mexican American and women’s history collections date back to 1972 and include interviews with narrators born as early as the 1860s.

Media Contacts: Shayne Schroeder, 562/985-1727
Rick Gloady, 562/985-5454

Public Affairs Offices/Campus News
[Bakersfield] [Chancellor's Office] [Channel Islands] [Chico]
[Dominguez Hills] [East Bay] [Fresno] [Fullerton] [Humboldt] [Long Beach] [Los Angeles] [Maritime Academy] [Monterey_Bay] [Northridge] [Pomona] [Sacramento] [San Bernardino] [San Diego] [San Francisco] [San Jose] [San Luis Obispo] [San Marcos] [Sonoma] [Stanislaus]