About this collection
The VCU Oral History Archive is a collection of audio files of interviews with prominent individuals associated with Virginia Commonwealth University, presented as MP3 files with complete PDF transcriptions. These oral histories were collected by VCU Libraries in an attempt to capture information otherwise unavailable to researchers, supplement our rich documentary research collections, and learn more about how to create, store, and give access to these unique resources. Currently there are fourteen interviews with four people. It is an on-going project and we hope you will check back for more oral history audio files and transcripts.

Researchers have long had access to oral history transcripts in the form of testimony, depositions, court records and other officially recorded accounts of lives and events. One famous example is Carlo Ginzburg’s book “The Cheese and the Worms,” focusing on the testimony of a 16th century miller that opens a window into a world-view completely foreign to our modern, scientific way of thought. And yet, what do we lose when we rely wholly on transcripts? Could the transcriber have made mistakes? Were they edited and, if so, why and by whom? Was the individual pressured or led into certain statements? Can the transcript capture the emphases and emotions that the speaker expressed at the time?

Capturing substantive, strong oral histories is as important to understanding the 20th and 21st century as it is difficult to do. For over half a century researchers have been recording oral histories but only in the last few years has the technology existed to make them available to a wide audience in the places they live and work. In 2002, VCU Libraries embarked on a small exploratory project to get first-hand information concerning how we could create, store, and give access to oral histories to supplement the rich documentary history we are collecting. The project is small but growing, and we welcome you to enjoy both the audio files and the transcripts from these important individuals. The original files are held at James Branch Cabell Library Special Collections and Archives.

This material is protected by copyright, and copyright is held by VCU. You are permitted to use this material in any way that is permitted by copyright. In addition, this material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Acknowledgment of Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries as a source is required.

The original oral histories were recorded at the behest of VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives between 2004 and 2007, and were transcribed by Archivist Ray Bonis. Digital Specialist Jennifer Cason performed conversion on the audio files. Metadata Librarian Mary Anne Dyer created the metadata.


Browse the VCU Oral History Archive Collections:

VCU Oral History Archive Interviews

VCU Oral History Archive Photos