Kentucky Oral History Day Ideas and Resources

Ideas and resources for Kentucky Oral History Day have been divided into the following four types of activities. Questions? Contact Allison Tracy at or 502-564-1792 ext 4434.

Ky Oral History Day Mar_tweetk

  1. Manage
  2. Preserve
  3. Access
  4. Promote


Management involves setting policies and supervising the creation, organization, access, and use of collections.* Management is a continuous activity and critical first step in preservation and access.

To start, ask a series of simple questions: What do we have? How much? What is the condition? Where did it come from? This basic information can be expanded upon in a collections survey and recorded in a spreadsheet. Survey data may include the following:

  • Collection name
  • Unique identifier
  • Extent
  • Condition
  • Date
  • Creator
  • Format
  • Research value
  • Subjects

Other management activities include creating or updating release forms and use policies or writing a grant application to fund further oral history preservation and access activities.

Oral History Day example

Georgetown College will update all of its administrative documentation that deals with the oral history collections.


*Based on the Society of American Archivists Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology’s definition


For Oral History Day celebrations “preserve” refers to the various preservation methods that oral historians use to conserve and protect their collection content. Preserving oral histories can also refer to digitization, or creating curated duplicates of master copies. The Association of Library Collections and Technical Services, a division of the American Library Association, has concluded that “Digital preservation combines policies, strategies and actions to ensure access to reformatted and born digital content regardless of the challenges of media failure and technological change.” The ALCTS goes on to conclude that “the goal of digital preservation is the accurate rendering of authenticated content over time.”** Preservation methods also include physical practices, such as housing cassette tapes or reel-to-reels in a dark and dry environment with stable humidity.

Oral History Day example

On Oral History Day, EKU will be continuing its efforts to digitize degrading cassettes and reel-to reel interviews and remove “audio-hiss” and other unwanted distractions with Sound Forge Pro, a digital audio editing tool. We will also ceremoniously upload indexed interviews into the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS).


**Definitions of Digital Preservation, Prepared by the ALCTS Preservation and Reformatting Section, Working Group on Defining Digital Preservation, 2007


Access refers to “the ability to locate relevant information through the use catalogs, indexes, finding aids, or other tools.”1 Oral histories are conducted and collected with the intent that they will eventually be able to be used for research and other purposes. But how do repositories work to make materials discoverable and accessible? One method is to ensure that accurate, consistent descriptive information is created, managed and then shared publically when appropriate. The Oral History Association cautions that “The plan for preservation and access, including any possible dissemination through the web or other media, is stated in the informed consent process and on release forms.”*** Here are some options for sharing collection information.

Option 1: Pass the Word
Pass the Word (PTW) is an online discovery tool that allows institutions in Kentucky to share collection information with a broad audience. It provides a web interface for users and researchers to browse and search oral history collection information from all over Kentucky. A project of the Kentucky Oral History Commission and hosted by the Kentucky Historical Society, PTW is an excellent tool for institutions with small budgets, limited staffing, and without robust technology infrastructure. Entering descriptive information (metadata) about oral history collections into PTW is a simple process. With the
“Get it Here” button takes users directly to the interview, if it is accessible online, or to the organization’s website that provides information on how to request access. If you do not have a PTW account and would like to participate, contact Allison Tracy at

Option 2: Catalog oral histories and share using your institution’s preferred system
Some institutions deliver information about oral history collections through an online public access catalog, web pages, or a digital collection management delivery system such as CONTENTdm, Omeka, or DSpace. Like PTW, these systems enhance access to oral histories through the broad distribution of collection information.

Option 3: Share oral histories online
After analyzing the legal, ethical, and administrative requirements of oral history interviews, you may determine that it is possible to share them by putting the interview online.

Oral History Day example

On Kentucky Oral History Day, Northern Kentucky University will be adding metadata into PTW for a collection of oral histories describing life during the Great Depression in Northern Kentucky.



Promote refers to raising awareness about collections and actively encouraging audiences to use them. It takes providing access to collections one step further. It calls on institutions to go where the audience is instead of waiting for the audience to come to the institution.

Option 1: OHMS

The primary purpose for OHMS is to empower users to more effectively and efficiently discover information in an online oral history interview by connecting the user from a search result to the corresponding moment in an interview. OHMS is an open source, web-based application designed to improve the user experience you provide for oral history, no matter what CMS or repository you use.  There are 2 main components of the OHMS system:

  • OHMS Application: The OHMS application is where the work is done.  This is the back-end, web-based application where interviews are imported, and metadata is created.  In the OHMS application transcripts are time-coded and/or interviews are indexed.  Upon completion, the interview record (including the synchronized transcript and/or time-coded index) are exported as an XML file.  When located on a web server, the OHMS XML file is what interfaces with your content management system through the OHMS Viewer.
  •  OHMS Viewer: The OHMS viewer is the user interface of ohms.   When an interview is called by the repository, the OHMS viewer loads, calling select interview level metadata and the intra interview level metadata created in the OHMS Application from the corresponding xml file.

To learn about OHMS, please use this contact form

Option 2: Spread the Word

  • Tell the stories of your collections in media outlets.
  • Include a story about your participation in Kentucky Oral History Day in a campus newsletter.
  • Write a blog post about a particularly striking interview.
  • Tweet about new collection information added to your discovery system or send out tips on how to preserve personal A/V materials to your followers.
  • Share an interview clip on Vimeo.
  • Create a podcast featuring your collections and publish it on your blog.

Use the hashtag #OralHistoryDay on October 21 to connect your work with project and follow the conversation.

Oral History Day example

The University of Kentucky will share updates on digitized oral histories via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and other social media tools on Kentucky Oral History Day.