Oral History workshops this fall: Crash Course, Oral History for Social Change, Legal and Ethical Quandaries

Oral History workshops this fall at Berkshire Community College

For Immediate Release

Judith Monachina, Director
Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center at Berkshire Community College





PITTSFIELD, MA – Five oral history workshops will be offered at BCC this academic year, three of them this fall.   A Crash Course in Oral History will be presented by Sam Redman and the UMass Oral History Lab, Oct. 5, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (BCC Main Campus)   Ethical and Legal Issues and Quandaries in Oral History Practice will be presented by Sarah-Jane Poindexter, of the Massachusetts State Records Advisory Board, Nov. 8, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. (BCC’s South County Center.)  Oral History and Social Justice is the topic of Alisa Del Tufo, of Groundswell, an oral history project about social justice, and Bennington College. Nov. 13, Time, TBA ( BCC main campus)


In the spring semester, Oral Historian Annie Valk of Williams College will present a workshop for teachers on How to use Oral History to Connect Students to their Communities.   Finally, the Oral History Center will offer workshop on Creating Podcasts with audio recorded interviews.  Dates for the spring workshops will be announced later in the fall.


The Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center at BCC is hosting and sponsoring these workshops. The UMass Oral History Lab and Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center at BCC are cosponsoring the Oct. 5 event.  For more information, call 413-236-1025.

Faculty and staff members, students recommended by faculty members, and community members are invited free of charge.



Details on the fall workshops

A Crash Course in Oral History, Oct. 5, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.  (BCC Main Campus, Pittsfield)
Presented in collaboration with the Oral History Center. This UMass Oral History Lab training is a day-long multi-workshop event to be held at BCC, Friday, Oct. 5, 2018, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.. This one-day intensive featuring the UMass Amherst Public History Program and Oral History Lab offers an introduction to oral history theory and methodology. Participants will learn about interviewing techniques, project planning, archiving, oral history ethics, recording technologies, and more.

This event is open to BCC faculty, students recommended by faculty members, and community members engaged in or beginning oral history projects, and is offered free of charge.  Registration is required; the deadline for registration is Friday, Sept. 28.  Morning coffee/tea and lunch will be provided.


A history professor at UMass, Sam Redman is the organizer of UMass’ Oral History Lab, an initiative to bring together students, scholars, and communities to collaboratively improve oral history projects. Redman is currently involved with an Oral History of Emily Dickinson, with UMass and Amherst College.  While at the University of California, Berkeley,  Redman served as lead interviewer for the Rosie the Riveter / WWII Home Front Oral History Project and the Japanese American Confinement Sites Oral History Project, both in collaboration with the National Park Service. He launched a project documenting the oral history of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, resulting in over a dozen new interviews.

Two years ago, the Oral History Center at BCC invited Redman give an introduction to oral history to interested BCC faculty and staff members.



Practical Solutions to Legal and Ethical Quandaries for Oral History practitioners, November 8, 10-12 a.m.   (BCC South County Center, Gt. Barrington)

Legal and ethical issues can complicate projects, and in many cases, there are simple solutions to these problems.  Questions arise such as:  What can you do if I have oral history interviews, tapes or digital recordings, without release forms? What can you do with interviews involving minors? Did an interviewee/narrator reveal a crime during the recording? Can you ethically put an oral history online that was recorded before the age of the internet?  Are you struggling to find balance in both protecting the interviewee/narrator’s privacy yet providing access to interviews?

Bring your oral history legal and ethical questions to this unique workshop hosted by the Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center at Berkshire Community College.  Participants are encouraged to bring specific challenges from their experience along with the relevant deeds-of-gift, consent forms, or interview segments for discussion and problem solving.  The discussion will be guided by archivist and oral historian Sarah-Jane Poindexter with attendee participation encouraged. Every effort will be made to find a resolution for each participant’s challenge


Sarah-Jane Poindexter is Roving Archivist for the Massachusetts State Historical Records Advisory Board.   She was Co-Director of the Oral History Center at the University of Louisville Archives and Special Collections, and served on the Steering Committee for the Oral History Section of the Society of American Archivists and as an adviser to the Kentucky Oral History Commission. Ms. Poindexter holds a master’s degree in Library Science from Simmons College.


Oral History and Social Justice, November 13, (afternoon time TBA BCC Main Campus, Pittsfield)

Alisa Del Tufo, visiting professor at Bennington College, founding member of Groundswell, Oral History for Social Change, and founder the Threshold Collaborative, will present a workshop on Oral History and Social Justice.  The time and details of this workshop will be announced next week.

Del Tufo is a visiting faculty member at Bennington College, where she teaches Oral History, Restorative Justice and Youth Impacted by the Criminal Justice System.  She has been teaching at the Marlboro Graduate School of Management and Sustainable Practice, Middlebury and Southern Vermont Colleges.  Groundswell uses grassroots oral history and narrative in creative, effective and ethical ways to support movement building and social change.   Threshold works around the country with a focus on racial and gender justice, most recently focusing on how oral history can be used as a way to generate healing, reconciliation and justice. She has been a Revson, Rockefeller and Ashoka Fellow, and is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary.


Registration is required for all workshops.

For more information and to register, call Judith Monachina, Director, Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center at Berkshire Community College, at  413-236-1025, or send an email to jmonachina@berkshirecc.edu

Written by Judith

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