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The Oral History Program at the Southwest Collection

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The Oral History Program is committed to the use of recorded interviews as an indispensable modern research tool. Oral histories are used in collaboration with more traditional manuscript resources to paint as accurate an historical picture as possible. Since the 1930s when the narratives of former slaves were recorded, the taped interview has proven its worth as a means of acquiring the historical accounts of all people, including those unlikely to leave written records. Thus historical research has become more egalitarian, allowing historians the potential to record and express many viewpoints. Historians are constantly looking for new methods to peer into the past. Taped interviews provide an exciting way of doing just that. Researchers are able to hear first hand, spontaneous accounts in the eyewitness’s own words, complete with inflections and colloquialisms. With video taped interviews, they are able to view the person’s appearance, gestures, and mannerisms. Wouldn't today's historians love to have recorded audio interviews from the fifteenth century? Five hundred years from now we trust that the interviews we record today will be of similar value to historians.

The Oral History Program is a department of the Special Collections Library, Texas Tech University. Its purpose is to serve as an instrument for collecting archival materials for all the departments of the Special Collections Library, in particular the Southwest Collection, University Archives, Archive of American Natural History, and Rare Books. While the Oral History Program specializes in collecting audio and videotaped interviews, it also actively collects photographs, videotapes, film footage, books, newspapers and periodicals, memorabilia, and a wide variety of manuscript items such as letters, business records, personal records, diaries, and memoirs.