The DC Oral History Collaborative is a project of the DC Public Library executed by HumanitiesDC and the Historical Society of Washington, DC. The Collaborative is part of the Humanities Grant Program supported with funding from the District of Columbia Government through the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
In 2016, DC Councilmember David Grosso expressed an interest in helping residents of the District gain access to hundreds of oral histories that illuminate our shared history but are difficult to find – and the DC Oral History Collaborative was born. The DC Oral History Collaborative documents and preserves the stories and memories of DC residents as communities experience change and as residents age. The Collaborative increases awareness of existing oral history recordings and gives residents the training and financial resources they need to conduct new first-rate interviews.
As part of this initiative, the DC Oral History Collaborative has identified archives, museums, libraries, and organizations that hold oral history collections relevant to the city and its residents, and has surveyed these repositories to identify appropriate oral histories, collect metadata on their contents, and assess their accessibility and state of preservation.
In addition to funding over two dozen projects a year through the annual grant application, the DC Oral History Collaborative provides oral history trainings and an oral history finding guide.View Collections Survey
Though staffed by its partner organizations, the Collaborative relies on the ideas and hard work of volunteers: scholars, institutions, community historians, and concerned residents across the city. The program trains volunteers (not associated with grant recipients) who then conduct interviews with some of the city’s most memorable figures.
Visit our Training Opportunities page for more information.
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The Collaborative offers resources to help develop new oral history projects by the community historians and recordkeepers found in every ward in the city. Churches, civic associations, schools, non-profits and other institutions are invited to apply for community partnership grants. The grants fund new projects, and grantees receive training in oral history theory and best practices, as well as ongoing support from the Collaborative’s professional oral historians. In this way dozens of new stories are collected and added to the city’s growing archive. This archive has multiple homes in institutions across the city. One of the Collaborative’s goals is to create centralized access to these many homes.
Visit our DCOHC Partnership Grants page for more information on how to apply.
Project Manager: Anna Kaplan, Consulting Oral Historian
The DC Oral History Collaborative is a partnership of: