Oldest college graduate to become oral history source

You’re never too old to learn. 95-year old Nola Ochs will graduate from college next month. Her history prof wants to interview for oral history after she graduates. She’s provided a personal perspective to events in his history classes.

Todd Leahy, history department chairman, wondered at first if Ochs could keep up with the other students. After her second week, all doubts were gone, as he discovered she could provide tidbits of history.

Leahy, who had Ochs in four classes, wants to record oral histories with her after she graduates.

“I can tell them about it, but to have Nola in class adds a dynamic that can’t be topped,” Leahy said. “It’s a firsthand perspective you seldom get.”

For instance, Ochs offered recollections of the 1930s Midwest dust bowl, when skies were so dark that lamps were lit during the day and wet sheets were placed over windows to keep out dust that sounded like pelting sleet hitting the ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 28, 2007 in • HistoryPersonal History
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Oral History Conference Swag

Swag: Freebies. Giveaways. Schtuff. What kind of swag do you get at an oral history conference? Last weekend’s SOHA conference was the first oral history conference I’ve attended.

Now, I’ve gone to trade shows, I’ve gone to tech conferences. Heck, I even put ON a conference once. And when I worked for a software company, I remember the mad rush to create swaggy handouts for a trade show. What kind of goodies have I brought home with me? I’ve gotten pens and pencils flashlights, and carry bags and keychains, and sweatshirts and tee shirts and baby bibs and a condom (true!) and small flash memory drives. (See Flickr photos of Swag and Schwag)

The swag freebie available at the reception a week ago was a little different. The more I think about it, the more I like it.

There it was, a stack of boxes. “Free. Help yourself.” the sign said. An empty flat box.

tape box

Now mind you, this was a reception in a meeting room on the third floor of the library of Cal State Fullerton. Go through the door on the left, and you’re in the office of the Center for Public and Oral History. Weave your way this way and that and you’re in the stacks amid reel-to-reel magnetic tape, and (possibly) cassette tape and other audio media. And typed transcripts and other boxes. (off topic, but worthy of note, is the CSUF “house wine” they served at the reception. The merlot was good. Very nicely balanced. Fruit forward. But I digress.)

Now most swag is designed for promotion ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 27, 2007 in • Longevity
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Why I love the Web: Historical Documents That Find YOU edition

Last summer, I posted something here about some oral histories and photographs from the town where my grandfather grew up. Search engines crawled the posts. Someone had a document from that place. Date: 1915. Searched the web for the “Walsenburg, Colorado, genealogy” and found me. Told me about the 1915 book from the town. Was I interested in buying it? Yes, please send photos. I saw the photos, asked the price (reasonable). Sold! My check is in the mail.

imageSo let me spell the reasons why I Love The Web:

  1. Search Engines crawl this site. So if I write about stuff that’s important to me (er, that’s obvious by inspection), then they’ll pick it up.
  2. Someone finds something and thinks, This is important to someone, but not to me. Goes to search engine. My site shows up.
  3. How would the person have known of my interest otherwise?
  4. Happy feelings all around about serendipity and the kindness of strangers

Oh, this wonderful individual does genealogy… and so knows that such an item might be of interest to someone.



Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Personal History
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History: It’s the Real Thing

Coca-Cola Foundation funds oral history program at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. $250K will allow the collection to nearly double, to underwrite travel to worldwide locations to collect international civil rights interviews, and also to put more interview excerpts on the web (see existing web excerpts). Link to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Oral History Project

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Oral history in the newsOral History Projects
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StoryCorps book out this fall

Coming soon (okay, October): A StoryCorps book: Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Lives from the StoryCorps Project. David Isay, editor. According to book-industry watcher Buzz Girl, it is a “’tapestry of the stories Americans have been sharing from their lives to leave behind to their loved ones’ collected by StoryCorps, the largest oral history project in American history. CD included.”

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 26, 2007 in • BooksOral History Projects
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History and Journalism, Oral History and Fiction

Frances Dinkelspiel describes a conference she attended, Reconstructing the Past: Where History and Journalism Meet, which took place at Berkeley this past weekend. In some ways, it’s a parallel to the Southwest Oral History Association Annual Meeting Conference I attended in Orange County last weekend (Listening to the Past and Keeping it Alive). Not that attendees at each conference would look at the other like long-lost siblings of common interest. But I do. They both belong on a continuum in my mind.

Dinkelspiel is writing a biography of her great-grandfather, Isaias Hellman, “the Pacific Coast’s leading financier in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and his role in transforming the frontier into a modern state.” It’s a cross where family and personal history meets state history meets journalism (Dinkelspiel is a journalist),

The concluding session at the SOHA event I went to was a presentation by Cynthia Kadohata, a fiction author, who draws upon history to write her books. One book, Weedflower, tells the story of the Japanese American internment camp from the perspective of a 12-year-old girl. Kadohata’s own father went to Poston, AZ, the internment camp that she ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 25, 2007 in • AfterwardsBooksHistory
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The Hawaii Nisei Story

The Hawaii Nisei Story is a website that’s a presentation of the oral histories of Americans of Japanese Ancestry. I went to a presentation where Shari Tameshiro, Cybrarian and Webmistress at Kapiolani College, presented the site. The site is a virtual museum exhibit.

There are text transcripts from the interviews, pictures, larger historical context, and video excerpts where you can see the interview.

She showed us the story of Takejiro Higa, born in Hawaii, spent a portion of childhood in Okinawa, then came back to Hawaii when Japan went to war (in order to avoid serving). He then served in the American armed forces doing intelligence. What he went through in his return to Okinawa is amazing.

One day, Takejiro is ordered to report to corps headquarters. There he sees a huge map of the southern half of Okinawa. He freezes as if doused with a bucket of ice water; he realizes the next target is Okinawa.


Then next, he showed me - oh, he asked me, “Where did your grandfather used to live?” So I pointed in the general area of the map. And then he pulled out one big picture ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 21, 2007 in • AfterwardsOnline Oral History Collections
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Southwest Oral History Association Annual Meeting

I’ll be attending the Annual Meeting of SOHA– The Southwest Oral History Association in Fullerton Friday-Sunday. (It’s within driving distance. Yay.) Don’t know if I’ll be live-blogging any sessions or not, but I’ll schlep the powerbook along, so it’s likely there’ll be something posted while I’m there.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 19, 2007 in • Oral Historians
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Digitization Resources

I could spend a good, long day getting lost in these Digitization Resources links by Hurst Associates at Digitization 101. From a workshop Jill Hurst-Wahl led at the Comptuers in Libraries conference.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 18, 2007 in • DigitalityLinksLongevity
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22nd Carnival of Genealogy

The carnival is UP!. The theme was Carousel. Or free for all. I liked that. Also found out through Miriam’s Ancestoris “What I’m reading these days” is that this very site is featured in the latest issue of Internet Genealogy. Cool.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 17, 2007 in • GenealogyHousekeeping
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