About the Oral History Archives at Columbia and Columbia Center for Oral History Research


Columbia University is one of the world’s leading institutions for the practice and teaching of oral history through the Columbia Center for Oral History Research (CCOHR) and Oral History Archives at Columbia (OHAC).

The Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) is responsible for oral history research, education, and outreach activities. These include large-scale oral history projects, the Oral History Master of Arts program, its Summer Institute, and public programming. INCITE and CCOHR administers an ambitious research agenda to record unique life histories, document the central historical events and memories of our times, provide public programming, and to teach and do research across the disciplines.

Columbia University Libraries (CUL) focuses its energies on the curatorial and archiving aspects of oral history on campus through the Oral History Archives at Columbia (OHAC). OHAC staff acquires, describes, catalogs, and makes available Columbia's rich oral history collections. OHAC is housed in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library in Butler Library. It is open to the public, holds thousands of interviews, in audio, video and text formats, on a wide variety of subjects.  



Allan Nevins founded the Oral History Research Office (now CCOHR) to establish biographical interviewing as a key method of historical research. Early interviews focused on distinguished leaders in politics and government. Over time, the collection grew to include interviews in philanthropy, media, business, medicine, public health, the law, the arts, community history, and human rights, and has a continued commitment to documenting political events and their impacts. Our archive has been unique in the nation in that it has never been confined in its scope to one region or area of historical experience.