The WSU Oral History Project
In April 2004 the Golden Grad Class of 1954 commemorated their graduation from Washington State University (then Washington State College) by establishing a fund to create the WSU Oral History Project (OHP). This significant project is intended to be a permanent, yet continually evolving work-in-progress. It will be a valuable tool for academic study by students and faculty across many disciplines, including history, sociology, political science, education administration, and gender studies. Because it is such a unique electronic resource, the OHP will also contribute to the research efforts of anyone worldwide who is investigating the impact that WSU has made on the Pacific Northwest, as well as being a source for personal interest study.
Through the WSU Oral History Project and the technology of streaming audio, you can listen to the voices of well-known university figures as they share memories about events that shaped WSU. Over time, transcripts of the interviews and related photographs will be available via the OHP website. The OHP is expanding to include the oral histories of long time faculty and staff, and will link to recorded histories of WSU colleges and departments, “Cougar families” (generations of WSU alums), and others from the region.
In April 2005 the Golden Grad Class of 1955 expanded the WSU Oral History Project with their class gift to digitize and preserve the unique collection of slides, photographs, and serious and whimsical stories about WSU, created by the popular WSU chronicler Bob Smawley. In 2010-2011, in cooperation with Washington State University's Emeritus Society, the fund saw the transcription of over 33 hours of new oral histories conducted with retired WSU faculty and administrators. In 2012, the fund was used to digitize and place online the bulk of the 150 now-deteriorating oral histories conducted prior to 1990 for WSU's Centennial, as well as to reformat the original 2005-2006 oral histories for current technology. That digitization (approximately 250 hours of audio) was conducted by MLIS student Katrina Burch.
The preservation of WSU's heritage through living memories is important; and there is also an element of urgency as many of those whose stories we need are aging. Your continuing financial contributions are welcome and will make the difference in our ability to put together a complete collection, without regrets about being too late.
The Washington State University Libraries are proud to be the recipient of both the Class of 1954 Golden Grad gift that established the WSU Oral History Project and the Class of 1955 Golden Grad gift to expand its scope by digitizing and preserving Bob Smawley’s unique work. The OHP will inform and inspire WSU students, alumni, and future Cougars and assist researchers interested in the development and growth of Washington State University and its impact on the state of Washington.