Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Research Using Special Collections and Archives

This guide provides resources for students, researchers, and instructors who are new to archival research or new to using Special Collections and Archives at the University of Baltimore.

How to Use This Page

Use this page for to learn more about oral history interviews and other digitized primary sources. Read the instructions, explore digital exhibits and collections to learn how these primary sources available at Special Collections and Archives can help you complete your assignment for your class. Navigate throughout the guide in order to learn how to use the archives and access primary sources.

Researching in the Archives

Ready to learn how to use primary sources in your projects?

IDIS 101: First Year Seminar

What is Oral History?

Definition: According to the Society of American Archivists' Dictionary of Archives Terminology:
 Oral History is a recording of an individual's history and memories of past events.

  • Oral histories can include audio or video recordings, interview transcripts, and other documentation related to oral history projects.
  • They may be formatted as a recording of an individual's memories or family stories, or they may be formatted as structured interviews between an individual (the interviewee) and an oral historian. The Oral History Association Core Principles defines oral history as the interview process and the final recorded interview produced during an oral history interview.

What Oral History Can Do: Oral histories are primary sources that provide a spoken firsthand account from a participant or witness of a particular event or time period. They are one of the oldest methods of documenting history. Oral history interviews provide us with a unique opportunity to learn about the past from the people who lived it in their own words.

Personal history shared through the documentation of individual papers, artifacts, photographs, or oral history interviews is different than a secondary resource like a textbook or journal article. Oral history interviews are personal recollections of past events and experiences that are unique to the individuals being interviewed. These interviews can help us better understand larger social contexts and individual experiences within them when studying history.

Learn More: 

Oral History Interviews and Identity Class Activity

For your class project, find and access an oral history interview from Special Collections and Archives in order to learn about the personal identity of the individual from the interview, and the historical, societal, and personal contexts in which they lived.

Social Justice and Public Service Announcement Class Activity