Throwback Thursday meets 1977

Follow our weekly series, Throwback Thursday, designed to help celebrate 50 years of OHA. We’ll profile a year in the life of the organization each week with photos, logos, and highlights taken from the Oral History Association Newsletter. We welcome your memories, photos, and comments at

OHA in 1977…


President: William Wyatt, Western Health Systems, Inc.
Site of the Annual Colloquium: Hotel del Coronado, San Diego, California
Newsletter: Tom Charlton, editor; Adelaide Darling, Judy Edquist, Margaret Miller, and David Stricklin, associate editors
Editorial office: Baylor University, Waco, Texas
Annual individual membership: $10

Highlights of the year from the Oral History Association Newsletter

  • Congress issued broad changes in U.S. copyright law, extending copyright protection to tape recordings (previously limited to transcripts) and establishing that the interviewer was now to be considered a co-author of the work with copyright claims.
  • Forty-four oral historians across the U.S. were named by OHA officers to serve as advisors in the evaluation of oral history programs. Institutions and libraries could request an evaluation and be matched with a qualified oral history member who would make an appraisal based on the OHA’s Goals and Guidelines and “general professional judgement.”
  • “The value of the oral history method in preserving ‘contemporary history’ was demonstrated dramatically” by historian David McComb at Colorado State University.  Three weeks after the Big Thompson River disaster, a flood that roared unexpectedly through the 25-mile river canyon on the eve of the Colorado centennial celebration in July of 1976, McComb hiked into the canyon and interviewed survivors and rescue workers. The project was one of the first to receive evaluation by independent consultants.
  • “Roots,” the long-awaited television film adaptation of Alex Haley’s book based on oral sources, was televised to large audiences by ABC from January 23-20, 1977. “Roots” broke all-time records for American viewing audiences. Haley spoke about his work leading to “Roots” at an early OHA Colloquium.

Who we were interviewing…

  • State Historical Society of Wisconsin — members of the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA), once the third largest union in the CIO.
  • Texas Ranger Hall of Fame — retired Rangers, a program first established as a frontier defense force in 1823.
  • Gallaudet College, one of the most respected learning centers for the deaf — began a program of videotaping interviews to capture oral history in sign language.

Check back next week for highlights from 1978…




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