Oral History Collections
The Tamiment Library holds more than 80 oral history collections containing hundreds of interviews with labor leaders, rank-and-file workers, and political activists; audio tapes of speeches, concerts, conferences, memorial meetings, union meetings and other public and private events; and commercial recordings such as radio broadcasts.
These carefully researched interviews are an important part of the library's collections. Paul Buhle's Oral History of the American Left and Debra Bernhard's New Yorkers at Work are the core oral history collections.
Browse Collections List - Browse an alphabetical list of the library's Oral History Collections in this research guide. The list includes links to finding aids, catalog records, or brief descriptions of the collections.
Some of the collections have been fully processed and cataloged, while others await processing and cataloging.
Cataloged Collections - Some, but not all, of the oral history collections in the Tamiment Library have been cataloged at the collection-level in BobCat. Find them by searching on an individual's or organization's name, subject, or keyword, and limiting to archival holdings. To browse records for the cataloged oral history collections online, do a Basic search in BobCat in the Call Number index under "Oral Histories." There will be links to electronic finding aids for the fully processed oral history collections.
Processed Collections - While the majority of the collections have not yet been cataloged in BobCat or described in finding aids, most of them have minimal descriptions and are accessible to researchers. See the list of oral history collections below to identify collections.
To see if the library holds an oral history interview with a specific person or the recording of a particular event, consult the unpublished index to the oral history collections available in the Library. The index lists all interviews in the processed collections by interviewee or event, identifies the collection that contains the interview, gives the date the recording was made, indicates whether a transcript or index is available, and notes whether the interviewee has signed a release form to allow duplication of the interview tape or transcript. After finding an interview in the index, consult the finding aid for the collection if additional information is needed, and request the tape(s), CD(s), and/or transcript(s) on an archival request form.
Many of the oral history interviews have been indexed, summarized and/or transcribed. Consult collection finding aids and the unpublished index to see if these are available for specific interviews.
Researchers may request oral history interviews at the reference desk and listen to them in the Avery Fisher Center on the second floor of Bobst Library. If recordings are on CD, researchers may listen to them in the Tamiment Library's reading room using their own laptops with headphones.
Please note that donor restrictions govern the use of some interviews in the collections and advance permission may be required before access is possible. Finding aids and collection descriptions will identify any restrictions.
Unions wishing to develop their own oral history projects may contact Tamiment for assistance. Please contact Chela Weber (212-998-2631; firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information about the oral history collections.
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, District Council 37 Audio (part of the AFSCME, District Council 37 Records collection, WAG 265)
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