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Digital Collections

About this collection

The items in this collection are held in Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections in WSU's Terrell Library, and at the Whitman County Historical Society.


View the guide to the Whitman County Historical Society Oral History Collection: Cage 756.


NOTE: We strongly suggest using Internet Explorer to listen to and view these files.


The Collection:

Between November, 1977 and October, 1978, Margot Knight and Kay Kenedy Turner conducted nearly 200 hours of oral history interviews with early settlers of Whitman County on behalf of the Whitman County Historical Society (then headed by Dr. Roy Chatters).  A few additional interviews were conducted by others as late as 1984.  These collected interviews provide first-hand documentation of the earliest years of the Palouse region in the voices of those who lived them, and those audio files are compiled here with any associated materials.  Short abstracts of each interview were created, but for the most part, full transcripts were only rarely made.  In most cases, items labeled in this collection as “transcript”s will be partial at best. The initial project was supported by the Comprehensive Education and Training Act (CETA) Title VI. For more information on the initial project, and for a text version of much of the descriptive metadata incoporated into the description of these materials, please see the 1980 Guide to the Whitman County, Washington Oral History Collection.


Each online interview consists of multiple documents, including one or more audio files which comprise the entire interview as held in the archives. In addition, other materials are included for some but not all interviews, including but not limited to: interview “abstracts” as created by the original interviewer (though called abstracts, these are usually interview summaries/timelines), partial transcipts, photographs, family trees, or other pieces of documentation which were included in the relevant files. In 1980, a "Readers Theatre" script for a one-hour play was created and performed a few times; this play, Palouse Past, can be found in this collection as well.


It should be noted that these interviews are on audio cassette and reel-to-reel tapes, many of which had begun to degrade by the time they were digitized between 2012 and 2015. As a result, the audio quality of a given interview can range from excellent to poor. In many cases, lengthy stretches of silence were trimmed from the beginning, middle, or ends of these interviews, and in a few cases the playing speed was adjusted, but the audio quality has not been otherwise altered.


Searching the Database:

Entering search terms in the box located at the top of the page will search across the full text of all print items, as well as the descriptions created for the audio files. To enter an individual interview, select Browse This Collection and then click on the appropriate item. Search results are displayed as a series of thumbnail images that may be browsed. An option to return to the home page for this collection is provided in the banner.


Creating the Database:

University Archivist Mark O'English supervised the project, designed the metadata schemas, and designed this page. Print documents were scanned and the oral histories were described by students Katie Enslow and Renee Torres. Audio files were digitized by Katrina Burch.  A collection survey comparing and combining WCHS holdings and MASC holdings was conducted by Luke Sprague and allowed the creation of this digital collection.  Special thanks are due to Ed Garretson and the WCHS for granting permissions for the MASC to host these.

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