KU Libraries launch oral history project to capture retiree narratives

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

In celebration of KU’s sesquicentennial, KU Libraries have launched a new project entitled “In Their Own Words: Selected Interviews from the Endacott Society Oral History Collection.” The selected archive features interviews documenting the lives and experiences of KU faculty and staff—recollections that begin as early as 1917.

The Endacott Society, an organization of more than 400 retired university faculty, staff and spouses, has collected oral histories from retirees since the 1980s. Of the nearly 500 interviews available, 11 were selected to represent a diversity of perspectives and experiences. The online archive features histories from a range of disciplines, including the sciences, journalism, business, Slavic languages and literatures, psychology, music, law and more.

A libraries-wide interdisciplinary team was formed to complete the project, giving online access to 100-years of university life.

“It was a real team effort,” said Marianne Reed, KU Libraries digital initiatives coordinator and project manager. “We had experts from across the Libraries working together to give audiences a full multi-media experience. We’re always happy to showcase distinctive KU collections and make them accessible to a world-wide audience.”

Released as part of KU’s 150-year sesquicentennial celebration, “In Their Own Words” provides the opportunity to listen to original interview recordings, read the transcripts and search for topics of interest. Photos of the interviewees and a summary of the interview are displayed as well.

Preservation played a key role and functioned as a motivating factor in the project.   Digital recordings and transcripts from the interviews have been added to KU ScholarWorks to ensure long-term preservation and access to these unique materials. 

“We hope to continue preservation of the Endacott Society’s entire collection of interviews,” said Becky Schulte, university archivist. “Each interview was recorded on audio cassette tapes, a now obsolete technology. We’re hoping to continue migration onto digital formats, eventually making all the oral histories publically available online. ”

To explore the selected interviews, visit http://endacott.lib.ku.edu or KU ScholarWorks. The Endacott Society’s complete collection of oral histories is available at the Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

One of the top 50 libraries in the Association of Research Libraries by volumes held, and the largest library in Kansas, KU Libraries advance discovery, innovation and learning for KU, the state and a rapidly expanding community of world scholars.



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