OHA members to choose three new Nominating Committee members

OHA members will elect three members to vacancies on the Nominating Committee by casting votes for one of each of the following pairs of candidates:

Position 1 Chuck Bolton and Cyns Nelson


Chuck Bolton is a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) and previously directed the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage at the University of Southern Mississippi.  His research area is the 20th-century U.S. South, and the collection and use of oral sources are central to his work.  Recent projects include a book exploring the battles over school desegregation in Mississippi (The Hardest Deal of All, 2005) and a biography of a former Mississippi governor who became a strong advocate for public education and racial reconciliation (William F. Winter and the New Mississippi, 2013).  He teaches a variety of oral history courses, including oral history as part of a study-abroad program and a team-taught a video oral history class with a documentary filmmaker at UNCG.  Bolton has been active in the Oral History Association since 1990, when he attended his first meeting in Snowbird, Utah.  He has chaired a number of OHA committees, most recently co-chairing the program committee for the 2012 conference in Cleveland.

One of the things that I have always loved about the Oral History Association is the diversity of its membership.  Oral historians come from a variety of personal backgrounds.  They utilize oral history methodology in numerous academic disciplines and in all kinds of work outside the academy.  As a result, any OHA meeting is typically a gathering of people with different questions and perspectives on the theory and craft of oral history, which makes these conferences both intellectually stimulating and a lot of fun.  My main objective as a member of the OHA Nominating Committee would be to ensure that in selecting the future leaders of the OHA, we maintain the long-standing commitment to diversity—in all its various forms—that has been one of the longtime strengths of our organization.

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Cyns Nelson has 10 years’ experience guiding and contributing to oral-history projects throughout Colorado and for the Library of Congress’ Veterans History initiative. She presents to regional and national associations for librarians, archivists, museum professionals and public historians; she also has been a guest lecturer for San Jose State University. Presently Nelson is managing the Maria Rogers Oral History Program (MROHP) at Boulder’s Carnegie Branch Library for Local History. The program has a digital archive of more than 2,000 interviews—all available online—and adds 25 to 30 new oral histories each year. MROHP emphasizes community participation in the process of creating, archiving and making interviews accessible for historical consideration.  Nelson has been a member of OHA since 2007. She co-chaired Local Arrangements for the 2011 conference; served on the Program Committee for 2012; and now is participating on the Metadata Task Force.

My commitment to OHA extends beyond attending the annual meeting. Service to the Nominating Committee would deepen my appreciation for OHA governance and leadership—the roles and responsibilities assigned to individuals. A Nominating assignment is an opportunity to explore the contributions and the perspectives of our membership; it’s an opportunity to target leadership potential in diverse geographic locations, fields of discipline and settings. I would encourage a healthy refresh of people and ideas, balanced against OHA experience and commitment. I would hope to increase OHA voter participation and oversee a smooth procession of voting activities, beginning with a strong slate of candidates.

Position 2 Rina Benmayor and Martin Meeker


Rina Benmayor is professor emerita at California State University Monterey Bay, where she taught undergraduate oral history as well as literature and Latin@ studies courses.  She served as president of the International Oral History Association (2004–2006), and the Oral History Association (2010–2011); she also served as co-chair of the OHA search committee for the new headquarters and executive director (2012). In oral history and related fields, she has coauthored and coedited Migration and Identity (1995; 2005), Telling to Live: Latina Feminist Testimonios (2001), and coedited with Pilar Domínguez and María Eugenia Cardenal de la Nuez, Memory, Subjectivities, and Representation: Approaches to Oral History in Latin America, Portugal, and Spain (Palgrave, 2016).  She has also published oral history articles on women in the Puerto Rican migration, local community history, oral history pedagogy and digital storytelling. She produced a virtual oral history walking tour of Salinas Chinatown (www.salinasace.org/walking tour) and is currently working on a family history memoir.

The Nominating Committee is one of the most important committees in the OHA.  Here is where we come together to propose the future leadership of the association.  If elected to serve, I would want to help recruit talented slates of candidates that represent the diverse constituency of the OHA–generational, ethnic, gender and sexual orientation, as well as different spheres of oral history practice. As president, I had the unenviable task of recruiting candidates for most of the OHA standing committees, so I recognize the challenge that the Nominating Committee faces, but also the opportunity to help shape a vibrant future for the association.

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Martin Meeker is the Charles B. Faulhaber Director of the Oral History Center of The Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. Between 2004 and 2012, Meeker was as an interviewer/historian with the center and conducted hundreds of hours of interviews in several areas, including the history of politics and public policy, health care delivery systems and medical research, social movements, and wine and foodways. Between 2012 and 2016, Meeker was associate director of the center, expanding its educational initiatives and promoting greater public outreach and engagement with the university’s oral history collections. He became director in 2016. After Meeker earned a Ph.D. in U.S. history from the University of Southern California and has taught at San Francisco State University and at UC Berkeley. He has published numerous reviews and encyclopedia articles and has essays published in Pacific Historical Review, Journal of the History of Sexuality and Journal of Women’s History. Meeker’s books include The Oakland Army Base: An Oral History (2010) and Contacts Desired: Gay and Lesbian Communications and Community, 1940s-1970s (2006).

Oral history sits at the meeting point of many practices, among the most important juncture being sound historical research and archival preservation and access. As a longtime interviewer and administrator, historian and archivist, my goal has been to encourage – and take part in – the production and publication of high quality oral histories that have the power to impact lives and scholarship today and in the future. I am grateful to have been nominated to serve on OHA’s Nominating Committee and if asked to do so by my fellow members I will strive to identify and engage new leaders who recognize, value and promote these core attributes of oral history practice.

Position Three Tami Albin and Steven Sielaff

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Tami Albin is an associate librarian at the University of Kansas and is the director of “Under the Rainbow: Oral Histories of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer People in Kansas.” She has been active in OHA since 2008 and has served as chair of the Committee on Diversity, and as a member of the Program Committee, Scholarship Committee, Teaching Awards Committee and the Mentoring Program.  She has served as a consultant and adviser to numerous projects, including the Lecompton Homefront World War II Oral History Project (Lecompton, Kansas), the Kansas State Legislature Oral History Project (Topeka, Kansas) and the Gay and Lesbian Archive of Mid America (GLAMA) Oral History Project (Kansas City, Missouri). She has led oral history workshops and discussions across Kansas.  At the University of Kansas, she has led oral history workshops, consulted with faculty, staff and students on their oral history projects and is a regular guest lecturer on oral history methods in many classes.

I would like to serve on the Nominating Committee. It is extremely important to me that there is diverse representation of potential candidates for the OHA council and officer positions. I would reach out across OHA constituents to see if they would like to be involved in building and creating the future vision for OHA.

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Steven Sielaff is senior editor & collection manager for the Baylor University Institute for Oral History (BUIOH). A graduate of Baylor’s museum studies master’s program, he began at working at BUIOH as a graduate assistant in 2011 on various Web-based and multimedia projects. As primary investigator for the Baylor Oral History Project, he became involved in the technical aspects of processing, preserving and disseminating Baylor’s oral history collection, which he now manages. He also directs the digitization of BUIOH’s analog collection, manages the BUIOH website and social media news feeds and spearheads the migration of transcript and audio files to the institute’s searchable online database, ContentDM. Sielaff’s primary professional foci are the value of institutional histories and the use of oral histories in the digital age. His research includes museological surveys of Texas institutions and integration of the University of Kentucky’s Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) software at Baylor. Sielaff is actively involved with the Heart of Texas Regional History Fair, the Texas Oral History Association (TOHA), the H-OralHist listserv, and recently joined the investigations of the OHA Metadata Task Force.

I am honored and excited to be considered a candidate for the OHA Nominating Committee. With OHA’s 50th anniversary looming, I feel a strong commitment to identifying leaders who not only respect our past but also have the motivation and ideas to professionally propel us into the future!


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