The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Non-GC Events

Jan. 23: One-day oral history training workshops at Columbia

OHMA is hosting a weekend workshop event on Saturday, January 23rd, 2016. Join us for an intensive day of oral history workshops with OHMA faculty and alumni! See schedules, room assignments, course descriptions and faculty bios below.


Cost: $30-$100 per workshop, sliding scale.

Please pay what you can. We suggest a minimum of $30 for students, recent graduates, or others who are financially constrained, while we suggest that professionals and those with more resources pay more. All profits from these events go towards our annual merit scholarship for an exceptionally promising incoming OHMA student.

Location: Schermerhorn Hall, Columbia University. See below for room assignments, which vary by course [Campus map.]

Schedule at a Glance:

9:30AM-12:30PM Selection of introductory workshops

  • Oral History and Research, with Mary Marshall Clark. Register.
  • Introduction to Oral History for Educators, with Amy Starecheski. Register.
  • Introduction to Community-Based Oral History, with Suzanne Snider. Register.
  • Introduction to Oral History for Writers, with Svetlana Kitto. Register.
  • Introduction to Oral History for Social Change, with Nicki Pombier Berger. Register.


2PM-5PM Selection of focused workshops

  • Oral History and Human Rights Work, with Mary Marshall Clark. Register.
  • Oral History and the Practice of Buddhist Deep Listening, with Erica Fugger. Register.
  • Oral History’s Applications, with Sara Sinclair. Register.
  • Oral History and Documentary, with Suzanne Snider. Register.
  • Archiving Oral Histories, with Sady Sullivan. Register.

Morning Workshops, 9:30AM-12:30PM

Oral History and Research, Mary Marshall Clark
604 Schermerhorn Hall

Oral history is a form of biographical, social, economic, political and cultural research – contributing to an understanding of the many ways in which the past influences our thinking about the present and the future. This workshop will focus on ways in which oral history as a form of interdisciplinary research can contribute new knowledge and the development of unique primary sources.  Practical aspects of the workshop will include thinking about how to design oral history research projects, and how to read and analyze narrative sources.


Introduction to Oral History for Educators, Amy Starecheski
930 Schermerhorn Hall

Oral history can be a powerful tool in the classroom, transforming students into engaged researchers from the elementary grades through graduate school.  This workshop will provide a focused introduction to oral history specifically tailored to the needs of educators. Participants will be guided through the process of designing and executing an oral history project and thinking through how to use oral history to meet their teaching goals. This workshop is suitable for educators working in formal and informal settings, with any age group, and across the disciplines.


Introduction to Community-Based Oral History, Suzanne Snider
607 Schermerhorn Hall

Have you been dreaming about starting an oral history project in/for your community? This workshop will offer the tools you need to get started, beginning with an introduction to oral history and moving toward our focus on working in and with communities on oral history projects. Using a few specific projects as case studies, we’ll learn how to approach and design a project that emphasizes oral history values and best practices, including collaboration, shared ownership, and reciprocity. We’ll discuss common pitfalls, as well. Participants will be provided with resources including project design worksheets, sample community partnership contracts, and examples of project cards. This workshop is for community advocates, community historians, beginning oral historians, among others. All are welcome.


Introduction to Oral History for Social Change, Nicki Pombier Berger
934 Schermerhorn Hall

Are you passionate about social change, and interested in how to use oral historical practice for your cause? In this workshop, we will look at how the tools and ethics of oral history can be used to advance specific change-goals. We’ll spend the first half of the workshop reviewing projects that have leveraged oral history for social change, identifying what oral history contributes to, or where it differs from, other forms of documentation or storytelling modes. The second half of the workshop will be dedicated to developing participants’ own ideas for using oral history to advocate for specific social change. Participants will leave with a project design outline and resources for developing their ideas beyond the workshop.


Introduction to Oral History for Writers, Svetlana Kitto
832 Schermerhorn Hall

Oral history is an interdisciplinary tool that has the power to bring more complexity, multivocality and urgency to writing of any genre. For writers interested in documenting unheard voices, undertold stories, or generally enlivening their work with the historical phenomenon of everyday speech, this workshop will introduce oral history interviewing techniques as both a theoretical and practical mode of writing about the world. Students will practice interviewing and writing using oral history methods, as well as read texts from a variety of periods and perspectives to get them thinking about their own complex points-of-view in this historical moment.


Afternoon Workshops: 2PM-5PM


Archiving Oral Histories, Sady Sullivan
930 Schermerhorn Hall

Archives are where societal memory is preserved for generations to come. Archives can also be hubs for community engagement. In this workshop, we will discuss how to ensure that the interviews you collect today will be available in 5, 25, 150+ years. Participants will learn best practices for storing both born-digital and analog collections; tips and tools for keeping a project organized; why “metadata is a love note to the future”; and what to consider when donating a collection to an archival repository. We will explore open source digital tools for building online archives, and discuss how to ethically consider issues of privacy as well as how critical librarianship brings social justice principles into the work of libraries and archives.


Oral History and Documentary, Suzanne Snider
607 Schermerhorn Hall

For those interested in oral history and other nonfiction forms (film, audio, print), this workshop explores the dynamic possibilities that await us at the intersection of oral history and documentary. How can we most effectively and ethically combine a longform interview practice with the editorial rigor at the heart of radio, film, and journalism? How can documentarians preserve and make use of oral history practices and values as guiding editorial principles? What kinds of compromises are necessary when it comes to editing interviews that we have come to appreciate, uncut? We will discuss motives and methods for bring an oral history sensibility to our documentary work (or vice versa) while surveying inspiring examples of hybrid forms. This workshop is appropriate for documentarians, oral historians, and those with a general interest in nonfiction. All are welcome.


Oral History and Human Rights Work, Mary Marshall Clark
604 Schermerhorn Hall

Oral history is increasingly used in human rights work to engage in historical dialogues, advocacy and the gathering of testimony in societies engaged in conflict and post-conflict situations.   Oral history methodologies can be used by human rights advocates in multiple ways: a) to discover the real, daily life needs of vulnerable people, b) to advocate for social and political change based on that real knowledge; c) to develop ways of engaging, through in-depth interviews, across lines of social and cultural difference; and d), to construct opportunities for critical dialogues based on models of social change that emerge out of oral history stories about the past, the present and visions of the future. In this workshop we will discuss models of oral historical dialogues in human rights work, breaking down the components of successful transformational practice. Participants are encouraged to bring their own experiences in human rights and oral history work to the workshop.


Oral History and the Practice of Buddhist Deep Listening, Erica Fugger
832 Schermerhorn Hall

Oral historian Jacquelyn Hall once defined the term “deep listening” as: “Listening beyond and beneath words. Listening for layers of meaning, for the cacophony of voices embedded in every story… Listening, too, for the unscripted, for the memories that hurtle to the surface for the first time, with a force that can make you rage or weep.” Comparably, Vietnamese Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh grounds the humanistic application of deep listening within the ability of the listener to relieve the suffering of the storyteller by offering undivided attention and compassion. This workshop will therefore examine the convergence of oral history methodology with the Buddhist practices of mindfulness, body awareness, and meditations on compassion. It will explore techniques for fostering a sense of openness to rapport-building, emotional exchanges, and extended periods of deep listening. Participants are encouraged to attend the workshop well-rested and be eager to engage in interactive exercises.


Oral History’s Applications, with Sara Sinclair
934 Schermerhorn Hall

Once largely viewed as a resource for future researchers and relegated to the archives, today oral history practice is more often directed towards active outcomes. In this workshop we will consider how to engage different aspects of our work, and use different editing practices, to apply our interviews to different forms, including literary narrative, teaching tool and materials for advocacy. We will ask how the impact we want our interviews to have should direct the forms we present them in. We will get specific as we play with narratives to convert them from one form to another, thinking though how various incarnations lend themselves to various intentions, and reach different audiences. Throughout, we will contemplate how to stay true to oral history’s distinct ethics and ideals while pursuing various expressions of it. This workshop is suitable for people just beginning an oral history project, or for those interested in putting an existing collection of interviews to work in new ways.

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