Oral History Archives at Columbia Research Guide: How do I use oral histories for research?

Oral history resources at Columbia University
Can I listen to or view oral history interviews?

Analog media cannot be accessed until it has been digitized for preservation. The digitization of the archives’ 10,000 interviews is an ongoing process. When you request an oral history you will be provided with the transcript.

The staff of the Oral History Archives at Columbia works provide greater access to the audio/video in our collections, in addition to the transcripts. We encourage researchers to listen to the audio/video when available, because meaning can be lost when the orality of an interview is translated into text. For more on how to use oral history collections, see guidelines for researchers.

We appreciate your patience as we undertake the hefty task of digitizing many of the 10,000 interviews from their original analog formats (reels, audio cassettes, etc.) and as we improve catalog information to indicate when digital audio/video is available.

Can I take photographs of transcripts?

Yes, RBML patrons viewing transcripts in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library's Reading Room are allowed to take digital photographs of the transcript in order to supplement and assist their note-taking.

These photographs must be used for personal research use only and cannot be shared, distributed, or published in any way.

What does it mean for interviews to be "OPEN" or "CLOSED?"

If the CLIO record says restrictions are:

 

Access: Open.

Permission required to cite, quote, and reproduce. Contact repository for information.

or

Access: Open.

Copyright by The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 1972. Permission required to cite, quote, and reproduce. Contact repository for information.

 

you have permission to read the transcript in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library's Reading Room and you do not need to contact the CCOH Archives in advance of your visit. You can plan your research visit in advance.

 

If the CLIO record says restrictions are:

Access: Closed

or

Access: Written permission required from interviewer.

or

Access: Written permission required from interviewee.

 

please contact the CCOH Archives in advance of your visit.

 

The vast majority of the interviews in the CCOH Archives are open for research. If you would like to view a closed interview, please check with the CCOHA via email, as the restrictions may have expired.