The Power of Women’s Voices: Continuing the AAUW Oral History Project
AAUW boasts vast and historically rich archives of primary sources related to the history of women striving to break down barriers. AAUW members, staff, and researchers rely on the archives to learn more about the history of AAUW and our membership’s work throughout our 134 years. The AAUW Oral History Project aims to capture the individual voices of women who have witnessed and participated in historical events but who are usually left out of historical collections.
These guides are helpful at all stages of your archive or oral history project.
In 2013, the AAUW Oral History Project began at the national convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. During the convention, my colleague Therese Lowe and I conducted interviews with a digital recorder and microphone, capturing the memories, anecdotes, reactions, and emotions of 28 AAUW members. The recordings are priceless, containing information not found in traditional archives. Throughout the interview process, we were also able to ask targeted questions designed to gather information on subjects that then helped us fill in gaps in the archives.
Often, our interviewees were encouraged to speak with us by their fellow AAUW members. Some were hesitant, feeling that they had nothing valuable to share or had not done anything significant enough to talk about. However, once the interviews started, what we heard was awe-inspiring — firsthand accounts of discrimination, reminiscences of the women’s rights movement, and recollections of overcoming serious life obstacles based on gender.
So what does the future hold for the AAUW Oral History Project? We are excited to announce that the interviewing process will continue at this year’s national convention in San Diego, California. If you would like to be interviewed, please consider signing up for an appointment at the Everything AAUW table. Or perhaps you have someone in mind who you think would be the perfect candidate for an interview? If so, please contact me; I look forward to hearing from you!
You can be a part of the oral history project by conducting your own interviews in your state, branch, or community. Download a copy of the AAUW Oral History Project guide to get started.