Oral History Research Guide

Start with

  • How to use the Oral History Collection at Columbia

Then go to

  • Oral History Online
    Available only to current faculty, staff and students of Columbia University.   It is an index of English language oral histories that are publicly available on the Web and that are held by repositories and archives around the world with intent to make it possible to find and explore the voices of more than 300,000 individuals.

South Asia Oral History Projects Around the World

  • British Hinduism Oral History Project
    Conceived and developed by the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies to record the experiences of Hindus who have settled in Britain. The project ran from 2000–4 and involved conducting and recording interviews with Hindus who migrated to Britain.
  • British Voices from South Asia 
    An exhibition at LouisianaStateUniversity. It examines the Indian Empire, which was the central focus of later British colonialism. It does not deal directly with politics or economics, however, but rather with the social and the cultural, with the experiences of British life in India and with intercultural influences.  The exhibition marks the acquisition by the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History at LSU of a series of taped interviews—conducted by Professors Frank de Caro and Rosan Augusta Jordan of the LSU English Department—with British people who lived and worked in India before Independence in 1947. Collectively they provide a sort of "self-portrait" of a colonial subculture and accounts of how Europeans experienced a great Asian society under the peculiar conditions of their time. Quotations from the interviews have been included for each section of the exhibition. These first-person "testimonies" allow the visitor to experience history through the immediacy of spoken recollections.
  • South Asian Oral History Collections (International Institute of Social History)
    IISH started recording oral history of different movements of South Asia since 1997. These included communist, labour, peasant, women, cultural, anti-colonial and nationalist movements of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Recording oral history in South Asia is a tough job. Most of the communists, peasants’ and labour leaders hardly wrote anything about themselves or about the movement. These leaders indeed contributed a lot in building up communist/labour/peasant movements in British India, but when they died within a few years people had forgotten their contributions and they went into oblivion. While recording oral memoirs our priority was to focus on those leaders who didn’t write anything about themselves but made significant. Most of the interviews were recorded in Bangladesh and West Bengal and the language is Bengali. Other than Bengali there are some interviews in Urdu and Telegu.
  • India Association of Minnesota, Oral History Project 
    The goal of this multi-part oral history project between the India Association of Minnesota and the Minnesota Historical Society was to record the experiences of Asian Indian immigrants in Minnesota.
  • India’s Independence Movement 
    Systematically, GandhiServe Foundation, in cooperation with its sister organization, GandhiServe India Trust, Mumbai/India, identifies these veterans and talks to them about various aspects of the struggle, which was the first large campaign in history based on truth and nonviolence.
  • HistoryTalking
    Created by Voluntary History Group the first web based South Asian talk radio, aims to create an online resource of South Asian oral history and heritage in the UK.
  • Oral Archives at SOAS
    Plain Tales from the Raj; British in India Oral Archive Project; Partition of India; and other sound recordings are available.
  • Oral History of Labour Movement in India 
    Interviews conducted in India as a project of the Archives of Indian Labour in collaboration with N M Joshi Centre for Labour Research & Education, comprises of 55 interviews in nine subcollections. 
  • Oral history projects of the Center for the Study of History and Memory, Indiana University 
  • Population and Reproductive Health Oral History Project 1971-2006 (Smith College, Northampton, MA)
    Thirty-eight interviews (with complete transcripts) of individuals throughout the world who have made important contributions to the reproductive health movement since 1965. Includes reproductive health advocates, communication specialists, lawyers, managers, physicians, researchers, social workers and others. The series addresses the historical period 1965-2005.
  • Sounds: the road to 1947 
    Illustrated oral archive featuring interviews with keen observers of the Indian and Pakistani independence from the British Raj. Includes voices of Gandhi, Jinnah and Nehru.
  • The South Asian Literary Recordings Project 
    Launched in April 2000, to record the voices of South Asian authors for the Library of Congress' Archive of Recorded World Literature, the project has captured the readings of prominent South Asian poets, novelists, and playwrights. The authors recorded so far represent more than fifteen of the languages of India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
  • South Asian Oral History Project (SAOHP) (University of Washington Libraries)
    One of the first attempts in the U.S. to record pan-South Asian immigrant experiences in the Pacific Northwest using the medium of oral history. It was conducted in three phases.
  • Talking History 
    Coming from India Produced in 1997, this documentary takes us into the East Indian community in in New Jersey, third in population after California and New York. Through wide-ranging interviews with diverse members of the community, we learn of the great diversity within this community. "Coming From India" was written and produced by Marty Goldensohn and David Steven Cohen for the New Jersey Historical Commission and New Jersey Network Radio.
  • Tales of three generations of Bengalis in Britain
    A product of the partnership between Swadhinata Trust (Nirmul Committee) and CRONEM (Centre for Research on Nationalism, Ethnicity & Multiculturalism, University of Surrey)
  • University of Cambridge, Center of South Asian Studies, Oral History Archive 
    The archive includes over 300 interviews, ranging from 15 minutes to 8 hours long, some are with women, most are in English and date from the 1970s. They cover an enormous subject range—from the popularization of Hindi and question of Hindi as national language of India, to leprosy and surgical rebuilding, and from discussions about Gandhi, the civil disobedience and non-cooperation movements to mass migrations at Partition, to the life of tea planters and forest officers.

Prepared by Gary Hausman, South Asian Studies Librarian.