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WSU Libraries

Digital Collections

About this collection

The items in this collection are held in Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections in WSU's Terrell Library.

View the guides to the Women in the West Oral History Collections: Archives 194, Archives 220, Archives 262.


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

The Collection:

As part of her Washington State University History 398 classes, professor Sue Armitage asked her students to conduct oral history interviews with women who had spent their early lives in the Pacific Northwest. Totaling over 230 hours of audio, this collection holds nearly 200 of these interviews, originally recorded between 1979 and 2005.  The majority of the women interviewed were born between 1881 and the early 1930s, and the collection provides invaluable first hand documentation regarding the role of women in the northwest during the early and mid 1900s.

Each online interview consists of multiple documents, including, at a minimum, 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), short audiovisual clips created during the digitization process, and photographs, family trees, or other pieces of documentation which were included in the relevant files. In one case the interview was recorded on videocassette, and that video is available here.

It should be noted that the majority of these interviews were originally recorded on audio cassette tapes, many of which had begun to degrade by the time they were digitized in 2010-2012. As a result, the audio quality of a given interview can range from excellent to poor. A very few tapes were of such poor quality that they were ultimately not included in the online collection. 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, designed this page, and scanned the print documents. The oral histories were described by History PhD candidate Shawna Herzog and History student Sarita Wescott. Audio files were digitized by Library Science Masters student Katrina Burch. Video clips were created by Digital Technology and Culture student Cate Hall. Alex Merrill provided technical support for CONTENTdm. Jeff Kuure designed this page's banner. The project was funded through a National Endowment for the Humanities “We the People” grant for Washington Women’s History to the Washington Women’s History Consortium, a part of the Washington State Historical Society.

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