Oral History Center

oral history interview sound check

The Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center is located at Berkshire Community College’s main campus in Pittsfield, MA.  Created to serve nonprofit, heritage-based organizations, businesses, municipalities, educational institutions (and more!) in the upper Housatonic River valley region.  We welcome your inquires and look forward to assisting with your oral history project.

Visit the Oral History Center’s website for more details!

The Center is a place where best practices are used in the collection and dissemination of oral histories. It is a place where best practices and information about technologies and methodologies are communicated to the public and to member organizations.

We serve as a catalyst, via information, education, technical assistance, and limited seed funding, for projects throughout the Heritage Area and at BCC. The Center engages youth and others with all aspects of oral history, including research, interviews, archiving, and digital technologies for doing that work, as well as helping them to explore creative means for communicating what they have learned, including digital multimedia presentations, performances, writing projects, various digital applications, and exhibitions.

Youth Engagement in Oral History

Students are engaged in the heritage of our region, and their own stories too, as the Center collects stories about current events that occur locally. They are engaged in the Center’s work via internships, work study jobs, and classroom based projects, and various other ways that may become available. The Oral History Center helps young and old people to learn, to explore and to communicate together, via people’s stories.

We remain committed to documenting personal narratives of complex and diverse histories and advocating for a collaborative practice of oral history which values and honors people, communities, subjects, and events that otherwise might not be included in the historical record.  Oral history, the acts of questioning, listening, recording, and preserving diverse historical perspectives, remains a powerful model for bridging divides, advocacy, public engagement and greater historical understanding.

Contact us:

Oral History Center
Judith Monachina, Director
Berkshire Community College
Office 215, Field Administration Building
1350 West St, Pittsfield, MA 01201

email: jmonachina-at-housatonicheritage.org

2018-19 Oral History workshops at Berkshire Community College
Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center at BCC offers events free of charge

Five oral history workshops will be offered at Berkshire Community College  this academic year, three of them in the fall.

  • A Crash Course in Oral History will be presented by Sam Redman and the UMass Oral History Lab, Oct. 5, 10 a.m.-2p.m.
  • 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.
  • Oral History and Social Justice is the topic of Alisa Del Tufa, of Groundswell, an oral history project about social justice, and Bennington College. Nov. 13, afternoon time to be announced.

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 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.

Community members are invited free of charge.

Details on upcoming fall Oral History Center workshops

People interested in oral history practice and those interested in social justice are invited to two November workshops on Berkshire Community College campuses. The Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center at Berkshire Community College will host these events. All are welcome. Registration is required.

  • Practical Solutions to Legal and Ethical Quandaries for Oral History practitioners, Thursday November 8, 10 AM – 12 PM at Berkshire Community College – South County Center (Main St., Great Barrington)

Legal and ethical issues can complicate projects, and in many cases, there are simple solutions. Questions arise such as: What can you do if you have oral history interviews 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 if it was recorded before the age of the internet?

Participants may bring specific questions from their own experience along with the relevant consent forms, deeds-of-gift, 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.

  • Oral History and Social Justice, Tuesday November 13, ( tentative time, 1 – 2:30 PM). BCC Main Campus

Alisa Del Tufo, visiting faculty member 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 will be confirmed and details announced the week of Oct. 15.

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 taught 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 or 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

The Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center at Berkshire Community College is a collaboration of Housatonic Heritage and Berkshire Community College. The Center serves the Berkshire and Northwest Connecticut regions by providing workshops, seminars, and technical assistance, and by connecting people with interests and skills in oral history practice.  www.theoralhistorycenter.org