Last modified: Monday, February 3, 2003
New name for oral history research center at IUB
A history research center at Indiana University Bloomington has a new name but is continuing its role of preserving oral memories.
The Center for the Study of History and Memory is the new name for the former Oral History Research Center. "We work to preserve historical data, particularly from Indiana and the Midwest, that cannot be found in any written form and exists mainly in the memories of historical participants themselves," said John Bodnar, co-director of the center, Chancellor's Professor of History and chair of the IUB History Department. The center's Web site is http://www.indiana.edu/~ohrc.
Bodnar, who shares directing duties with Daniel James, the Mendel Chair in Latin American History at IUB, said the center is devoted to the collection, preservation and interpretation of memories and oral traditions.
Since its founding in 1968, the center has collected more than 1,600 recorded interviews on topics ranging from the history of Indiana communities to the evolution of American philanthropy. Included is the book Our Towns: Remembering Community in Indiana that was edited by Bodnar and partially funded by the Indiana Historical Society.
The center publishes a newsletter and a pamphlet on oral history interviewing techniques, and it presents oral history workshops. "We also assist other research institutions, community organizations and individual researchers in developing their own oral history projects," Bodnar said.
Bodnar explained that the new title of the center more accurately reflects its mission of incorporating memory and identity as key analytical concepts in the practice of history and the social sciences. "Our four specific objectives are to develop an interdisciplinary perspective on memory studies, internationalize this research across national boundaries, develop an ongoing seminar on memory issues, and expand our archives of interviews and expertise in oral history research," he said. The international aspect is particularly important, he said, because "the use of the past is an important component in constructing cultures and understanding their society and the world."