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Amelia Fry interviews Helen Gahagan; both are seated at a table piled with papers, teacups, and a microphone.

Oral History Center : Summer Institute

Recording and preserving the history of California and our interconnected world

Summer institute

Note: Our Summer Advanced Institute is now full with a lengthy waiting list. We are no longer accepting applications for the 2022 program. We encourage you to apply early next year, as spots fill up quickly.

About the institute

The Oral History Center is offering an online version of our one-week advanced institute on the methodology, theory, and practice of oral history. This will take place from Aug. 8-12, 2022. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Advanced Institute will be held online.Man holding tape recorder

The cost of the Advanced Institute has been adjusted to reflect the online nature of this year’s program. Tuition is $600. See below for more details.

The institute is designed for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, university faculty, independent scholars, and museum and community-based historians who are engaged in oral history work. The goal of the institute is to strengthen the ability of its participants to conduct research-focused interviews and to consider special characteristics of interviews as historical evidence in a rigorous academic environment.

We ask that applicants have a project in mind that they would like to workshop during the week. All participants are required to attend small daily breakout groups in which they will workshop projects. In the sessions, we will devote particular attention to how oral history interviews can broaden and deepen historical interpretation situated within contemporary discussions of history, subjectivity, memory, and memoir.

Overview of the week

The institute is structured around the life cycle of an interview. Each day will focus on a component of the interview, including foundational aspects of oral history, project conceptualization, the interview itself, analytic and interpretive strategies, and research presentation and dissemination.

Woman speaking in a classroomInstruction will take place online. Seminars will cover oral history theory, legal and ethical issues, project planning, oral history and the audience, anatomy of an interview, editing, fundraising, and analysis and presentation. During workshops, participants will work throughout the week in small groups, led by faculty, to develop and refine their projects.

Participants will be provided with a resource packet that includes a reader, contact information, and supplemental resources. These resources will be made available electronically prior to the institute, along with the schedule.

Applications and cost

We are no longer accepting applications for our 2022 Advanced Institute. The cost of the institute is $600. Please note that the OHC is a soft money research office of the university, and as such receives precious little state funding. Therefore, it is necessary that this educational initiative be a self-funding program. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide financial assistance to participants other than our limited number of scholarships, which have now been filled. We encourage you to check in with your home institutions about financial assistance; in the past we have found that many programs have budgets to help underwrite some of the costs associated with attendance. We will provide receipts and certificates of completion as required for reimbursement.


Please contact Shanna Farrell with any questions.



Past speakers

Below are examples of guest speakers from previous summer institutes.

Robert Keith Collins, Ph.D., an anthropologist, is Associate Professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University. He holds a BA in Anthropology and a BA in Native American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Collins also holds an MA and PhD in Anthropology from UCLA. Using a person-centered ethnographic approach, his research explores American Indian cultural changes and African and Native American interactions in North, Central, and South America. His recent academic efforts include being a co-curator on the Smithsonian's traveling banner exhibit "IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas,", currently hosted by The Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, a special edition edited volume for the American Indian Culture and Research Journal at UCLA on "Reducing Barriers to Native American Student Success", and two books in final preparation: "African-Native Americans: Racial Expectations and Red-Black Lived Realities" (University of Minnesota Press) and “Memoirs of Kin that Race Can't Erase: Kinship, Memory, and Self Among African-Choctaw Mixed Bloods” (University of North Carolina Press). 

Rina Benmayor is Professor of Oral History, Literature and Latina/o Studies at California State University Monterey Bay, where she directs the CSUMB Oral History and Community Memory Archive. She has a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from the University of California, Berkeley. Her books include Romances judeo-españoles de Oriente (Madrid: Gredos, 1987); Benmayor and Skotnes, Migration and Identity (Oxford U. Press, 1994; 2nd ed., Transaction Press: 2005); Flores and Benmayor, Latino Cultural Citizenship: Identity, Space and Rights (Beacon Press, 1997); Latina Feminist Group, Telling to Live: Latina Feminist Testimonios (Duke University Press, 2001); and is currently co-editing a volume for the Palgrave Oral History Series on oral history research in Spain, Portugal, and Latin America. Benmayor teaches digital life storytelling and has written on digital storytelling as a signature pedagogy for Latino Studies. She has published in oral history journals and anthologies on oral history and Puerto Rican women, testimonio, first generation college students, Holocaust narratives, and is currently directing a multiyear oral history project on pan-Asian memories of Salinas Chinatown. Part of this project involves design and production of an augmented reality oral history walking tour of Chinatown. From 2004 to 2006 she served as President of the International Oral History Association, and from 2010-11 as President of the Oral History Association. 

Mateo Hoke studied journalism as an undergraduate at the University of Colorado Boulder, which is where he met Cate. They were both interested in human rights journalism and they began a project for which they spent eight months interviewing undocumented Mexican immigrants about their daily lives. After this, Mateo embarked on his graduate studies right here at UC Berkeley. In addition to his work in the Middle East, he has reported from the Amazon Jungle and the Seychelles. His writing has received awards from the overseas Press Club Foundation and the Knights Foundation, among others.

Mimi Lok is the founding executive director and executive editor of Voice of Witness, a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that uses oral history to illuminate contemporary human rights crises in the U.S. and around the world. Voice of Witness publishes an acclaimed book series which depicts these injustices through the stories of the men and women who experience them, and provides oral history-based curricula and holistic educator support through its innovative education program. Mimi has over fifteen years’ experience working in education and the literary arts in the U.K., China, and the U.S. She has contributed to various outlets and publications including the Washington Post, USA Today, Lucky Peach, and Hyphen, and has taught Creative Writing at San Francisco State University, City College of San Francisco and in schools throughout Hong Kong and China. She received the 2013 Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award for Social Progress with Voice of Witness co-founder Dave Eggers.

Steven Estes was born in Charlotte, NC in 1972. Because his dad was a doctor in the Air Force at the end of the Vietnam War, his family moved to the airbase in Panama City, Florida late in 1972. The family eventually moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where his mom earned an MD-PhD at the Medical University of South Carolina. He graduated from high school in Charleston, and then went to Rice University in Houston, Texas, where he received a BA in History and Economics. After spending a short while working in San Francisco, he went to the University of Georgia for an MA in History and then to the University of North Carolina, where he received a PhD in 2001. Along the way, he worked as an interviewer for the Southern Oral History Program, a counselor at the Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan, a teacher in the Sunflower County Freedom Project in Mississippi, a researcher at the American Youth Policy Forum in Washington, DC, and a guest curator at the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco. He has been teaching history at Sonoma State University since 2002.

Quinn Dombrowski is the Digital Humanities Coordinator in Research IT at UC Berkeley, and the lead developer for the Bamboo DiRT digital research tools directory, and the DHCommons digital humanities project / collaborator matching hub. She holds a BA/MA in Slavic Linguistics from the University of Chicago, and an MLS from the University of Illinois. Quinnhas partnered with faculty on a diverse range of digital projects for pedagogy and research, including a virtual research environment for Bulgarian linguistics and folklore, a bibliography of secondary literature about German multitalent Ernst Barlach, and a digital textbook for clinical pathophysiology at the University of Chicago. Her own projects include a guide to using Drupal as a platform for digital humanities projects, and an ongoing study of graffiti in public areas of university libraries.

Sarah Jo Neubauer is responsible for designing, managing, and delivering in-person and virtual training programs to build the capacity of nonprofits in the Bay Area and throughout the Western United States. Her professional interests include research and instructional technology. Before joining Foundation Center in 2006, Sarah Jo worked at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) Women's Studies Library and University Library. Prior to her library experience, she worked as a community organizer with a variety of nonprofit organizations. She recently served two terms as board secretary of Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. She received her M.L.I.S from San Jose State University and completed her BA at UCSC. 



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Two popular places to stay are the Bancroft Hotel and the Berkeley City Club.

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CITRIS (Institute site) visitor information

BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) map

Intro workshops

The 2022 Introduction to Oral History Workshop will be held virtually via Zoom on Friday, Feb. 4 from 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Pacific Time, with breaks woven in. Applications are now closed. We expect to hold this annual workshop again in 2023.

This workshop is designed for people who are interested in an introduction to the basic practice of oral history and learning best practices. The workshop serves as a companion to our more in­-depth Advanced Oral History Summer Institute held in August.

OHC historian Shanna Farrell leading the Spring 2015 Intro to Oral History Workshop
This workshop focuses on the "nuts-­and-­bolts" of oral history, including methodology and ethics, practice, and recording. It will be taught by our seasoned oral historians and include hands­-on practice exercises. Everyone is welcome to attend the workshop. Prior attendees have included community-­based historians, teachers, genealogists, public historians, and students in college or graduate school.

Tuition is $150. Please note that the OHC is a soft money research office of the university, and as such receives precious little state funding. Therefore, it is necessary that this educational initiative be a self-funding program. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide financial assistance to participants other than our limited number of scholarships. We encourage you to check in with your home institutions about financial assistance; in the past we have found that many programs have budgets to help underwrite some of the costs associated with attendance. We will provide receipts and certificates of completion as required for reimbursement.

If you have specific questions, please contact Shanna Farrell.