Oral History Project

Posted on November 22, 2013

The Academic Senate is pleased to announce the Oral History Project (OHP), a new initiative that will record the stories of individuals of interest and importance in the history of Pratt Institute. The OHP also will collect materials on historical moments and on architecture, art and design movements in which the Institute played a role. It is designed not only to initiate recordings, vignettes, and portraits of relevant individuals and events, but to accept submissions of important materials from families and from individuals that hold previously recorded materials.

In conjunction with the archive of recordings and oral histories that the OHP will assemble, the Oral History Project will sponsor and will collect an archive of portraits of Pratt Institute faculty, their teaching and their work, an archive that will be held as part of the OHP and that may consist of photographic prints as well as other forms of portrait illustration.

Several types of oral history materials are to be collected at present: recordings held by families or individuals who have been important in the history of the Institute; recordings of present and former faculty and alumni of Pratt Institute; beginning in 2014, new recordings of individuals important to the Institute.

In this initial stage, the Oral History Project will form an oversight committee, according to the protocols of the Oral History Association, both to supervise the project and the collection of materials, and to coordinate with the Library of Pratt Institute, which will serve as the repository of the archive.

If you are interested in the Oral History Project, or if you know of suitable recordings or materials, please contact Professor Paul Dambowic, Vice President, Academic Senate

Senate Resolution on The Oral History Project

Meeting of the Academic Senate, Tuesday, November 19

RESOLVED, That the Academic Senate of Pratt Institute sponsor an ORAL HISTORY PROJECT, in order to record the narrative voice and institutional memory of current and former members of the Faculty and the Institute, including members of the Academic Senate, and to establish an Archive of Oral History to place in safe deposit for future research and educational purposes, for use by members of the Pratt community and by the world at large; and it is further

RESOLVED, That this ORAL HISTORY PROJECT will provide opportunities for both audio and video recordings, with the method of recording to be chosen in consultation with the interviewee in each case. The level of exposure of each participant and the degree to which documents may be released to the public archive will be established in accordance with the principles and practices of the Oral History Association; and it is further

RESOLVED, That the Senate may establish an archive of portraits of Pratt Institute faculty, their teaching and their work, an archive that will be held as part of the OHP and that may consist of photographic prints as well as other forms of portrait illustration; and it is further

RESOLVED, That a Committee, composed of members from across the Institute, be formed to oversee the ORAL HISTORY PROJECT, and that this committee be charged to insure that the project conform to accepted principles and practices.

For further information, please refer to the website of the Oral History Association, excerpted below:

“Oral history is a field of study and a method of gathering, preserving and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events. Oral history is both the oldest type of historical inquiry, predating the written word, and one of the most modern, initiated with tape recorders in the 1940s and now using 21st-century digital technologies.”

“Oral history refers both to a method of recording and preserving oral testimony and to the product of that process. It begins with an audio or video recording of a first person account made by an interviewer with an interviewee (also referred to as narrator), both of whom have the conscious intention of creating a permanent record to contribute to an understanding of the past. A verbal document, the oral history, results from this process and is preserved and made available in different forms to other users, researchers, and the public.”

“Oral history is distinguished from other forms of interviews by its content and extent. Oral history interviews seek an in-depth account of personal experience and reflections, with sufficient time allowed for the narrators to give their story the fullness they desire. The content of oral history interviews is grounded in reflections on the past as opposed to commentary on purely contemporary events.”

Oral History Association Guidelines