DC Oral History Collaborative Collections Survey

DCOHCLogo(SampleVersion)In 2016 D.C. Councilmember David Grosso expressed an interest in helping the citizens of Washington, D.C. gain access to hundreds of oral histories that illuminate our shared history but are difficult to find. As part of this initiative, the DC Oral History Collaborative set forth to:

  • Identify archives, museums, libraries, and organizations that hold oral history collections relevant to the city and its residents
  • Survey these repositories to identify appropriate oral histories, collect metadata on their contents, and assess their accessibility and state of preservation.

In the initial year of the project, the DCOHC Collections Survey has generated an-easy-to use finding guide that documents the locations, metadata, and state of preservation for 30 D.C. repositories. DCOHC looked into repositories, cultural institutions, and other organizations currently holding relevant oral history recordings in order to discover the range of existing materials. The results have been compiled and standardized in a finding guide to be made available to the public in the future. The second year of the project will update the records from these 30 repositories as well as survey an additional 15 repositories around the city.
In many cases this finding guide is the first publicly available information on invaluable recordings held by dozens of city institutions. By including content information, the survey is also designed to bring to light gaps in the record of D.C. lives so that oral historians can build upon (rather than duplicate) existing interviews. Please note: histories of federal agencies or events that are strictly national in nature are not included in this survey, but oral histories that feature Washingtonians employed by the federal government are included. So far, the FY2017 survey yielded a total of 3,897 interviews recorded from 1938 to 2017.

Repositories included in the survey so far are:

American Folklife Center, Library of Congress
Anacostia Unmapped
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
Asbury United Methodist Church
Catholic University of America
Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Smithsonian Institution
Citizens Association of Georgetown
DC Digital Museum, HumanitiesDC
DC Office of Planning, Historic Preservation Office
DC Public Library
Gallaudet University
Historic Chevy Chase DC
Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington
Masjid Muhammad
Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University
National Archives for Black Women’s History, Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site
National Law Enforcement Museum
National Library of Medicine
National Park Service
National Press Club
National Society Daughters of the American Revolution
Public History Program, American University
Rainbow History Project
The Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project
Smithsonian Latino Center, Smithsonian Institution
Special Collections Research Center, George Washington University
Tudor Place
White House Historical Association

If you would like to let us know about a repository or collection of oral histories not included in this list, please email collectionssurvey@dcoralhistories.org.


Learn how to get involved:


The DC Oral History Collaborative is a partnership of:

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