Center for Documentary Research and Practice

Center for Documentary Research and Practice

Franklin Hall 0030B
601 East Kirkwood Avenue
Bloomington, Indiana 47405, United States
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The Oral History Archive began in 1968 gathering interviews for the IU sesquicentennial. The archive expanded with other projects, mostly focused on the history of Indiana and the Midwest such as labor, politics, medicine, immigration, and social history. The archive contains over 2,000 interviews--audio files, transcripts, and some video. The archive is now housed in the Center for Documentary Research and Practice, a unit of the Media School.

Our Collections

American Bar Association Section on Legal Education Oral History, 2001

In this project, James P. White, the American Bar Association consultant on legal education, discusses the history, changes, goals, conflicts, and mission of that institution. He describes his involvement in legal education activities and the occasionally rocky relations between the association and the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar. Law schools, legal specialization, and the commercialization of the legal profession are also major topics within this interview.
Collection ID: ohrc110

American Foundations Oral History Project, 1989-1993

The American Foundations Oral History Project consists of a series of interviews with prominent American philanthropists, each of whom relates their background, the development of their values, and their philosophies of philanthropy. The purpose and state of American philanthropy, including those family foundations and corporate foundations, form a central topic, as do the recent trend of increasing diversity and opinions on grant evaluation and philanthropic assessment. In addition, many interviewees comment on the role of government in philanthropy and the system of ethics at play in American philanthropy.
Collection ID: ohrc001

AURA - Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Incorporated, 1983-1984

These interviews discuss the construction of the Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona and the negotiations that took place with the Papagos Indian Tribe in order to obtain the lease of the land. The issues of mineral rights and university and community relations are discussed in these interviews.
Collection ID: ohrc002

Autobiography: Edward O. Craft, 1978

Edward O. Craft, former senior legislative counsel to the House of Representatives, recounts his early life, education, work in Washington, DC, and his retirement into private practice as a partner in the law firm of Wickham, Craft & Cihlar.
Collection ID: ohrc005

Autobiography: Ernest D. Butler, 1979

Ernest D. Butler discusses his career and his involvement in the civil rights movement in Indiana.
Collection ID: ohrc006

Autobiography: Hobert Billingsley, 1980

Hobert Billingsley shares his life experiences. He discusses his childhood, education, and work experiences. He discusses his passion for diving and recalls those people and places which have made an impact on his life.
Collection ID: ohrc007

Autobiography: John M. Cooper, 1978

John M. Cooper, a professor of physical education at Indiana University, discusses his life-long love of basketball, its history, its development over the years, and his time as a player and coach of the sport. He also talks about his current interests in kinesiology and biomechanics.
Collection ID: ohrc008

Autobiography: Mary M. Barr-Koon, 1984

Mary Margaret H. Barr-Koon talks about her experience as a woman in academia and the issue of bilingualism in schools. She talks extensively about her travels around the world and the experiences she encountered acting as an interpreter. During the interview she talks about her relationship with her family and her husband's children.
Collection ID: ohrc009

Autobiography: Raymond Seifert, 1978

Raymond Seifert, born January 1, 1920 and died September 17, 1996, discusses his experiences in World War II. He also touches upon his opinions of war in general.
Collection ID: ohrc010

Autobiography: Robert C. Wiles, 1976

This project consists of one interview with Robert C. Wiles, who discusses his life and experiences, especially with regard to the community in Bloomington, Indiana. He shares his memories of his military experiences prior to World War I, his educational experiences at Indiana University, and his work experiences at his family's drug store. In addition, he speaks of the character and quality of life in the first third of the twentieth century.
Collection ID: ohrc011

Biography: Helen Gahagan Douglas, 1973-1983

In this project, the life and political career of Helen Gahagan Douglas are detailed in the context of her Hollywood connections and California home. Although Douglas briefly enjoyed opera and acting careers, the majority of the interviews focus on her political activities. A Democrat, she served as a representative from California in the United States House of Representatives from 1944 to 1950, before being defeated by Richard Nixon in her bid for congressional senator. In addition, Douglas' personal life and characteristics are important topics in many of the interviews.
Collection ID: ohrc014

Biography: Homer E. Capehart, 1969-1973

This project is comprised of interviews regarding Homer E. Capehart and in particular, his political career as a Republican United States senator from the state of Indiana from 1944 to 1962. Often emphasized in the interviews is Capehart's organization of the Cornfield Conference in 1938 which served to rejuvenate the Republican Party in Indiana. Also much discussed is Capehart's legendary business acumen and status as a wealthy self-made man, proud of his humble origins. Many of the interviews also deal with national politics, Capehart's friends and political opponents, his impact and influence in Congress (through the Senate Banking and Currency Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee), his personal characteristics, communism, and the reasons for his unexpected defeat in 1962 at the hands of Birch E. Bayh, Jr.
Collection ID: ohrc015

Biography: Ignatius Donnelly, 1969-1973

This project contains an interview with Marion Woltman, the late Mr. Donnelly's wife. Ms. Woltman, born in 1877, discusses her marriage to the former congressman, author, and vice presidential candidate for the People's Party. She talks about her early childhood, in particular, her emigration to the United States from Norway. Ms. Woltman also speaks about her job as secretary for Mr. Donnelly at the Representative before they were married. Ms. Woltman reflects on her late husband's reading and eating habits and discusses the circumstances surrounding his death in 1901.
Collection ID: ohrc016

Biography: J. Edward Roush, 1969

This collection primarily covers Roush's time spent as United States Representative (D) from the 5th District of Indiana between 1959 and 1969, though his education and history prior to national politics are mentioned. Major topics of discussion include his campaigns, work on the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the flood control reservoirs in northern Indiana, as well as his position on the Committee on Science and Astronautics.
Collection ID: ohrc017

Biography: John Hurt, 1985-1986

This collection of interviews focuses on the political career of John E. Hurt. The bulk of the collection consists of Mr. Hurt's interviews where he speaks about his role as a leading Democratic fundraiser and political advisor to several gubernatorial candidates and governors in Indiana from the late nineteen forties through the early nineteen sixties. The other interviews offer background and specifics about Hurt's political career and actions.
Collection ID: ohrc018

Biography: Martin Luther King, Jr., 1979

This collection of interviews offers some insight into Dr. Martin Luther King's character and strength as a leader. It also provides some information about the role of adult education in the Civil Rights Movement and how that facilitated social change.
Collection ID: ohrc020

Biography: Melvyn Douglas, 1972-1980

The interviews contained in this project revolve around the life of Melvyn Douglas and include information about his biographical history, his family, his theatrical, motion picture, and television acting career, and his efforts during World War II. The interviewees include fellow actors and actresses, the man himself, former employees, and others who came into contact with Melvyn Douglas throughout his life.
Collection ID: ohrc021

Biography: Morris L. Ernst, 1977

Malcolm A. Hoffman discusses his relationship with Morris L. Ernst, best known for his defense in the censorship case against Ulysses by James Joyce.
Collection ID: ohrc022

Biography: Robert A. Taft, 1968

Charles Taft discusses politics in Cincinnati during the late 1920s. He talks about his brother, Robert A. Taft, and his political career.
Collection ID: ohrc003

Biography: William Fortune, 1986

The central focus of this project is the life of William Fortune, who lived from 1863 to 1942. Interviewees are the daughters of Indiana businessman William Fortune, a friend and father-in-law of Eli Lilly. They tell about their life in Indianapolis at the turn of the century and offer recollections of associations with famous people like the Lillys and James Whitcomb Riley.
Collection ID: ohrc024

Blacksmithing, 1978

In this project, the interviewee speaks about blacksmithing, welding, and the production of bells.
Collection ID: ohrc025

"Bloomington Cares" Oral History Project, 2012-2013

"Bloomington Cares" Oral History Project was a class project used to study voluntary organizations that focus on historical and cultural activities in the Bloomington community.
Collection ID: ohrc115

Burmese Immigrants in Indiana, 2001-2002

This collection of interviews presents a sampling of life in Burma over the last quarter of the 20th century and into the 21st century. The interviewees, who are all now living in the United States, share their experiences of growing up in a time of transition and political upheaval within their home country. Many of them were involved with the 1988 demonstrations that took place in Rangoon and nearby villages. Almost all spent some time living in fear of arrest, surviving in refugee camps, and hoping for better opportunity. They express varying opinions of their hope for a future democratic Burma and express their appreciation for the lives they have now. This project was co-directed by Professor M. Gail Hickey of the School of Education at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne.
Collection ID: ohrc112

Careers in Librarianship, 1992

The Career in Librarianship project includes interviews with ten people employed in libraries or library education. Three of the interviewees were Deans of Indiana University's School of Library and Information Science, or SLIS. Others include a SLIS lecturer, a high school librarian, a college archivist, 2 public library directors, and a public library branch head. All of the interviewees worked in Indiana (except for one of the public library directors, who worked in Michigan). Collectively, the interviews consider the training that librarians receive, librarianship as a career, as well as changes in, and the future of, the profession. The interviews were conducted by students of the Indiana University School of Library and Information Science as a project for a class on the history of American libraries.
Collection ID: ohrc032

Castleton, Indiana in Transition, 1982-1983

This project is comprised of interviews centered around the transformation of Castleton, Indiana from a small farm town to a suburb of Indianapolis, Indiana.
Collection ID: ohrc026

Christian School Movement, 1985

In this project, educators from Indiana state Christian schools reveal their beliefs about how modern public schools fail to impart the moral education and values that they feel are a requisite part of education. Many interviewees comment on the morally inadequate, corrupt, and even threatening environment that public schools represent to Christian (and other) students. The Christian teachers also elaborate on the teaching methods and programs used to teach students in their schools, as well as the state regulations the Christian schools must adhere to in order to remain open.
Collection ID: ohrc027

Claude Barnett and the Associated Negro Press, 1976-1977

These interviews consist primarily of interviewees discussing their relationships with Claude Barnett, their work at the Associated Negro Press, and Barnett's ongoing efforts at improving race relations. In addition, many interviewees comment on the difficulties they encountered while working for the Press and its impact on the Civil Rights Movement.
Collection ID: ohrc028

Coming Together: An Oral History of the Ostroms and their Scholarly Impact on Problem Solving, 2014

This project centers around interviews with professional and/or personal acquaintances of Elinor and Vincent Ostrom. Every interview explores a unique relationship with the Ostroms and the continuing impact of the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University. Elinor (Lin) and Vincent Ostrom founded the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis in 1973.The Ostrom Workshop has been the catalyst for worldwide collaboration in the field of public policy and environmental issues. "Coming Together" is an interdisciplinary exploration of the legacy and impact of Elinor (Lin) and Vincent Ostrom. Major topics include; academia, "the commons", cross-disciplinary collaboration, Elinor Ostrom's Nobel Prize, the Ostrom Workshop, political science, political theory, and the Workshop on the Ostrom Workshop (WOW) conference. The project was created to assist in the dissertation research of Sara Catherine Clark, who was a doctoral candidate within the School of Education, pursing a Ph.D. in History, Philosophy, and Policy in Education, at Indiana University Bloomington. Sara Catherine Clark's dissertation was completed in 2019 and is cited as follows: Clark, S. C. (2019). Elinor ostrom: A biography of interdisciplinary life.
Collection ID: ohrc117

Committee for Environmental Information, 1972-1973

The four interviews in the project discuss the creation of the Committee for Environmental Information. The interviewees talk about how they became involved in the group and the politics that they had to deal with along the way. Also discussed are the political and military situations of the time.
Collection ID: ohrc029

Communism in the United States, 1968

This project consists of an interview with Carl Bachmann who is a former member of Congress and mayor of Wheeling, West Virginia. Mr. Bachmann talks about his experiences with the Fish Committee, which conducted an investigation of communist activities in the United States during the nineteen twenties and nineteen thirties. As a member of this committee, he secretly attended communist meetings and participated in the hearings and final reports. He briefly addresses why the committee never introduced any bills and discusses the committee's role in informing Americans about the extent of communist activities in this country. Finally, he discusses William Borah's 1936 presidential campaign in detail.
Collection ID: ohrc030

Council on Foundations, 1991-1992

The interviews in this project focus on the history of the Council on Foundations, its history and development, its function and goals, and its mission. Central to many of the interviews is the 1969 Tax Reform Act, which had a profound impact on the structure and practice of American foundational philanthropy. The majority of the interviewees are philanthropists or professionals with strong connections to the Council; they share their insights, criticisms, and descriptions regarding the Council in many areas, including diversity, philanthropic ethics, principles and practices, the role of the government, and sources of division within the field of philanthropy.
Collection ID: ohrc031

Development of Political Science in the Twentieth Century, 1976-1978

In the interview, Charles S. Hyneman discusses the evolution of the political science discipline in the twentieth century, curriculum development, and Indiana state politics. Also discussed are Hyneman's careers in the academic field and the United States War Department, and his tenure as president of the American Political Science Association.
Collection ID: ohrc033

Dubois County: A Home for God's People, 1998

The project, Dubois County: A Home for God's People, consists of interviews of residents, most of whom could trace their ancestry back to the original German settlement of the area. The interviewees shared their German heritage and discussed the almost clan-like German Catholic communities, and how they grew and changed over the years since there first establishment. The Catholic church was discussed as a central point of the communities, as was the German language and its various dialects and farming as a way of life.
Collection ID: ohrc034

Dubois County: Christian Communities in Southern Indiana, 1998-1999

This project consists of Southern Indiana inhabitants discussing their life histories and their affiliation with area churches. Many of the interviewees discuss growing up on a farm and community cooperation during butchering and threshing seasons. Throughout these interviews they discuss church history, church picnics, and the church community. They also talk about the merger of the Congregational, Reformed and Evangelical churches into the United Church of Christ. The interviewees discuss the changes this had on the church ceremonies and activities. Two of the interviewees attend the Catholic Churches in the area and they discuss traditions and changes that they have seen in the Catholic Church since Vatican II and throughout their lifetimes.
Collection ID: ohrc037

Dubois County: German Americans, 1993-1994

The project, Dubois County: German Americans, deals with an area in Indiana rich with German Heritage. The interviewees discuss the history of the area, their lives and lifestyles, and the importance of religion, usually German Catholicism. They also discuss German dialects still spoken in and around the county, as well as how the language has influenced their English speaking.
Collection ID: ohrc035

Dubois County: Hoosier Faiths, Hoosier Communities, 1996-1997

This collection of interviews deals with life in Hoosier communities in southern Indiana, primarily during the mid-twentieth century. Emphasis is placed on the use of the German language, German culture, and religion, and how they have molded the community.
Collection ID: ohrc036

Dubois County: Religion, Community and Ethnic Identity, 1995-1996

This collection of interviews deals with the role of religion and ethnicity, specifically German-American, in Dubois County, Indiana. Subjects range from church celebrations and events to the use of nuns as teachers in the public schools. The use of the German language in the community is also widely covered, such as where it was used, who spoke it, and when it began to change primarily to English.
Collection ID: ohrc038

Dubois County: The Interwar Years, 1994-1995

This collection of interviews delves into several areas of Dubois County history between the two world wars. The most spoken of topics are religion, church events, and the use of German in various locales within the community. Also discussed are Prohibition and the notoriety of the county's moonshine industry, the Great Depression, and education in one-room schoolhouses.
Collection ID: ohrc039

Early 20th Century Pennsylvania Coal Mining, 1981

This collection contains 5 interviews with 7 people conducted by John Bodnar in 1981 for the Pennsylvania State Archives oral history project "Nanticoke Women Oral History Project." The people being interviewed were born in the late 19th and early 20th century and lived in the mining towns of Nanticoke and Plymouth, Pennsylvania. These towns were involved with the coal mining unions and strikes of the 1920's and 1930's. Some of interviewees worked in the mines while others had other occupations. Of the 7 people interviewed, 6 are of Polish descent with either their parent(s) or grandparent(s) immigrating to the U.S., while the other person was born in Italy and moved to the United States at the age of 15. Among the topics brought up, there is a lot of emphasis on the strikes that went on in the 1920's and 1930's involving the United Mine Workers and the union that broke off from them, the United Anthracite Miners. Many key figures from this time are discussed including John L. Lewis, Thomas Maloney, John Fine, Judge W. A. Valentine, and Rinaldo Capellini. The interviewees discuss the impact that the strikes and politics of the coal mines had on their jobs and towns. They speak of the violence that occurred at the time including dynamite attacks, fighting during the strikes, and the assassination of Thomas Maloney, who was a president of the United Anthracite Miners.
Collection ID: ohrc123

Early Women Workers at the Bloomington RCA Plant, 1990

Interviewees discuss working at the Bloomington RCA plant from the 1940s until the plant's closing in 1978. They describe the unions, family life, immigration, Brown County farming, and work life.
Collection ID: ohrc105

Economic Development in Indiana, 1996-1997

This collection of interviews gathers information about economic development from some key locations in southwestern Indiana, Indianapolis, and northwestern Indiana, among others. Topics include environmental issues, Brownfield redevelopment, tax incentives, and labor unions. Many issues are the same from one region to another, but some regions, such as northwestern Indiana, emphasize environmental or Brownfield redevelopment over unions or workforce training.
Collection ID: ohrc040

Economic History of Indiana in the Twentieth Century, 1976-1980

This project contains information about local, state, national, and international economic enterprises, focusing mainly on businesses and industries located in and/or originating in the state of Indiana. Some of the industries discussed are the Indiana limestone industry, the local oil industry, coal mining, agriculture, railroads, the automobile industry, banking, insurance, steel production, and supermarkets. The local economic impact of industry and business on a community, unionization, and the workforces of each industry are also discussed.
Collection ID: ohrc041

Generations of Auto Workers: Anderson, Indiana, 1930-1982

This project examines the impact of unionization on Guide Lamp and Delco Remy, two automobile plants in Anderson, Indiana, between the years of 1930 and 1982. It details the events of the 1937 sit-down strike at Guide Lamp and the various improvements in working conditions, wages, job security, and benefits that the United Auto Workers helped to influence at the two plants. The project highlights changes in policy towards women, minority groups, and retirees in the factory workplace, and it offers descriptions of the evolving roles of management and the union and changing relationships among workers in the two plants. Finally, the project details the history of the two plants within the community of Anderson at large, and it offers commentary on the then-current problems and challenges facing the automobile industry as a whole.
Collection ID: ohrc042

Hamburg University Nursing Home Study, 1981

The Hamburg University Nursing Home Study consists of a number of interviews of both staff and patients at the Bloomington Convalescent Center (BCC). The interviewees discuss perceptions of nursing home life, differences between living outside and inside such a facility, and the state of the elderly in America today. The interviews center around topics such as patient reminiscences of earlier life and family.
Collection ID: ohrc083

Historic Preservation in Indiana, 1982

This collection of interviews addresses historic preservation in a handful of Indiana towns, such as Madison, New Harmony, Vincennes, and Evansville. The broad emphasis is placed on how the preservation movement began, the major participants, and how it has changed. However, within this broad range, individual historic preservation organizations and projects are not only mentioned, but given much detail.
Collection ID: ohrc044

History and Development of Girls' High School Sports, 1989

This project consists of 27 interviews on the participation of girls in athletics from the nineteen twenties through the nineteen eighties. Organizations such as the Indiana High School Athletic Organization are discussed with regard to female participation in sports. The project also explores sex roles and girls' high school sports in local communities.
Collection ID: ohrc043

History: Calumet, Michigan, 1971

This project deals with the changes and conditions Calumet, Michigan has undergone since its origins as a copper mining company town. The interviewees discuss the ethnic diversity of the town, effects of the 1913 mining strike, effects of the Great Depression, and local community life.
Collection ID: ohrc051

History: Indiana Humanities Council, 1993

The project follows the Indiana Humanities Council from its beginnings in the 1960s until the present. The interviewees discuss their roles in the council, whether as a staff member or a board member. They discuss the founding of the council, the growth and changes it's undergone, the projects that it has funded, and those that it currently funds, according to their particular tenure. The interviewees also talk about the council's importance, positive work ethic, and good staff relations.
Collection ID: ohrc052

History: Indiana University, 1968-1981

This project is a compilation of interviews of subjects with strong ties to and memories of Indiana University, primarily at the Bloomington campus. The interviewees include former students, faculty, and staff, among others. The information contained in the interviews generally spans a little more than the first half of the twentieth century and often deals with the administrations under presidents William Lowe Bryan and Herman B Wells. The project is a survey of Indiana University's history as a whole including information about various academic departments, athletics, student organizations, campus growth, university development, living conditions, segregation and the treatment of African-Americans, the administration, and the importance of jazz at Indiana University. In addition, the impact of specific events, such as the Great Depression, World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, and water shortages, is detailed in many of the interviews in this project.
Collection ID: ohrc053

History: IU Center on Philanthropy, 1993

This oral history of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University traces creation of the Center from its earliest stages and its evolution into a fully operating academic institution dedicated to the study of philanthropy. It includes the negotiations in bringing the Fund Raising School to Indianapolis, Indiana, the grant proposals to the Lilly Endowment, finding the Center's first director, and the creation of its mission statement. This project also contains many different people's views on the study of philanthropy and the importance and success of the Center.
Collection ID: ohrc054