History and Mission
The Center for the Study of History and Memory began its existence in 1968, when the "Oral History Project" was founded by Oscar O. Winther as an initiative to collect the history of the University itself. The enormous potential of oral history as a research and pedagogical tool was quickly apparent, and the project expanded as other research studies were added to its growing archive. When Professor John Bodnar became the project's director in 1981, he changed the Oral History Project's name to the Oral History Research Center to reflect its broadened scope and its mission to preserve, collect, and interpret 20th-century history through the medium of first-person testimony. The center's mission encompassed archival, pedagogical, and research goals in the field of oral history, with particular emphasis on the history of Indiana and the Midwest.
The center's grant-funded research projects embraced a wide variety of topics available in our Collections list, and the archive of oral history interviews from this research continues to grow. Students, faculty, and the public receive training in the methodology of oral history through workshops and our online guide to "Oral History Interviewing Techniques." The Permission Forms we use for oral history interviews are also available here as models.
In 2002, the Center again expanded its mission to address the growing interdisciplinary field of memory studies, of which oral history is one important facet. The newly organized Center for the Study of History and Memory continues to build upon its work in the field of oral history while broadening the range of its research projects to address the many ways that people remember, represent, and use the past in public and private life. The Center added a co-director, Professor Daniel James, Mendel Chair in Latin American History, who brings his international perspective and expertise in collective memory research to the Center's new direction. In 2012, the Center added an interdisciplinary Advisory Committee to participate in the creation of new research initiatives and the development of grant proposals. The Center's most recent activities are described in our Newsletter. A selected list of Resources in oral history and memory studies, including bibliographies and useful websites, are available on this site.
Inquiries, comments, or suggestions may be directed to Professor Bodnar, Professor James, or the Center's assistant director Dr. Barbara Truesdell at the Center for the Study of History and Memory, Indiana University, Weatherly Hall North, Room 122, 400 North Sunrise Drive, Bloomington, IN 47405, Telephone: (812) 855-2856, or Email.