Oral History Special Project

To develop a strategy and process for soliciting, conducting, and archiving oral histories from USAIN members and interested parties, in a pilot to be launched in mid-to-late 2019. Initial planning work and a short pilot will be conducted from May 2019 to January 2020 in consultation with the USAIN Executive Committee. 


Suzanne Stapleton, chair
David Kruger
Noel Kopriva
Anne Hedrich
Dana Boden
Leslie Delserone
Livia Olsen
Leyla Cabugos


USAIN has been an organization for thirty years, beginning in 1989 and the first meeting hosted in 1990. The majority of our founding members have retired, and many others instrumental in building USAIN into the organization it is today will be retiring in the near future. In order to document USAIN’s history, we would like to record people’s memories, experiences, and outcomes from being involved in this organization.


1. Develop best practices for conducting an oral history that will guide the oral history implementation special project group and/or USAIN communication committee.

These recommendations should include:

a. Oral history interview directions and recommendations document- this document should help guide the interviewer to conduct an oral history (e.g. question types, navigating silence, active listening). An electronic format is preferable, as our members are spread across the country and the interviewer may not be local.

b. Prepare a consent form to ensure that the narrator and interviewee understand why the interview is important and how the interviews will be used, along with archival locations. This should be flexible to allow online archiving and repurposing content for the USAIN website and publications.

c. Software and hardware recommendations- determine if USAIN should purchase an audio recorder and/or software to conduct and/or transcribe interviews.

d. Suggest solutions for transcription that the USAIN EC could pursue with special project funds

e. Archiving solutions- work with the USAIN archivist to determine best strategies for long-term storage and preservation of oral histories. This should include both the audio files and the transcription of the files.

2. Prepare a general list of questions or topics that cover the history of USAIN and encourage the interviewee to talk about their path in agricultural librarianship. Refine the interview questions with input from USAIN EC and the USAIN archivist. Interviews may be customized on a case-by-case basis.

3. Develop a list of potential interviewees based on engagement and history with USAIN.

4. Propose parameters for the USAIN oral history project including scope and timeframe and any policies for re-use of the material.

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