Reorganizing the GMU Oral History Program Collection

This post was written by Emily Curley, our Oral History Program Coordinator.

The George Mason University Oral History Program has conducted over 200 interviews since 1999. Because we’re always adding to the collection, it’s time to reorganize the physical collection and the finding aid.

Oral History Collection, #R0122, in our closed stacks.

What we’ve done so far:

We’ve reorganized the physical collection. This included moving CD’s of oral history interviews into new boxes and arranging the individual interviews by date, rather than alphabetically. The collection increased from nine to eleven boxes and range from the late 1970’s to 2017. These histories cover a wide variety of topics including the history of George Mason University and Northern Virginia.

Our Next Steps:

  • Comparing the finding aid to the physical collection
  • Revising long abstracts and creating missing abstracts
  • Creating a new finding aid
  • Creating workflow for periodic updates of the Oral History finding aid

We will compare the finding aid to the physical collection and fill in any missing interviews. The finding aid was last updated in 2013, so there are over 50 oral histories that need to be added. After we have confirmed that all of the interviews are updated, we will check the finding aid once again and revise some of the abstracts. Some abstracts have too much information while others have too little. Our aim is to be as consistent as possible.

A box with an oral history pulled out to show what information goes on the labels.

After confirming that the abstracts are correct, I will be working with the Archives and Manuscript Librarian, Liz Beckman, to create a new finding aid, which is expected to go on our website sometime this summer.

Finally, I will create a guide for the next oral historian (who will start in September) so that they can periodically add new interviews and keep the finding aid up to date.

Links

GMU Oral History Program

Youtube

Finding Aid

Other Oral History Holdings

OMEKA Site

To search the collections held at Special Collections Research Center, go to our website and browse the finding aids by subject or title. Appointments are not necessary to request and view collections. Additionally, requests can be made to listen to oral histories in our Reading Room. Copies can also be made for a fee, which are listed on our website. Some oral histories may need to be converted to disk before they are available to patrons. For questions about oral histories, contact Emily Curley. To schedule an appointment or to request copies of an oral history, contact our Research Services Coordinator, Rebecca Bramlett.

About the Special Collections Research Center

The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) in George Mason University Libraries serves the scholarly community and beyond. While our services are used mainly by students and faculty, we are open to the public for research or for personal interest. The SCRC staff is dedicated to preserving, organizing, and collecting various objects, books, and manuscripts.

Members of the SCRC staff include:

  • Head of Special Collections
  • Research Services Coordinator
  • University Records Manager
  • Records Management Specialist
  • Manuscripts & Archives Librarian
  • Processing Coordinator
  • Digital Collection and Exhibitions Archivist
  • and various student wage and Graduate Research Assistants

SCRC contact information can be found here.

Our collections are searchable online through our finding aids and library catalog.

From our home page, sca.gmu.edu, our finding aids are searchable by subject or alphabetical order. The finding aids are useful for browsing our manuscripts and mixed materials such as oral histories.

SCRC maintains a collection of rare and antiquarian books. The oldest volume dates from the early 1500’s. To search our rare book and artist book holdings from the home page, click the catalog tab in the search box and enter search terms. For a more specific search limited to holdings in SCRC, click the “classic catalog” option and then hit the “set limits” button on the right of the page and scroll until you find “Fenwick Special Collections” in the locations section. Hit set limits again, and then begin your search. More information about our rare books can be found on our infoguides page.  A small sampling of items found in SCRC includes:

Poe,Edgar Allan, The Raven, PS2609 .A1 1884, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Poe,Edgar Allan, The Raven, PS2609 .A1 1884, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Northern Virginia Oral History Project Collection, #C0030, Box 5, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Northern Virginia Oral History Project Collection, #C0030, Box 5, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Mason Family Manuscript Account Book, #C0214, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Mason Family Manuscript Account Book, #C0214, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Langerman, Elaine, The Fairy Tale , N7433.4.L36 F35 1993, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Langerman, Elaine, The Fairy Tale , N7433.4.L36 F35 1993, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Appianus of Alexandria, Historia Romana, PA3873 .A2 1592, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Appianus of Alexandria, Historia Romana, PA3873 .A2 1592, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Froissart, Jean, Chronicles of England, France, Spain, and the Adjoining Countries, D113 .F7 1843, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Froissart, Jean, Chronicles of England, France, Spain, and the Adjoining Countries, D113 .F7 1843, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congress, Committee on Un-American Activities, KF27.3.U53 H43, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

Congress, Committee on Un-American Activities, KF27.3.U53 H43 1962 V.1, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

19th Century Civil War and Political Cartoon Lithograph, #C0285, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

“The Dawn of a Better Day,” 19th Century Civil War and Political Cartoon Lithograph, #C0285, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University Libraries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about SCRC, our collections or to schedule an appointment, email us at speccoll.gmu.edu.

Oral History Interview with Mr. Robert Flanagan

The George Mason University Oral History Program staff conducted an interview with Mason alumnus, Robert Flanagan (BIS, 1979 and MFA, 1983) on Wednesday, October 14th, 2015. The interview took place in Mason’s Gateway Library at the One-Button Studio in the Johnson Center. The interview focused mainly on his experiences as a nontraditional student (he began his undergraduate work at age 41 after 23 years in the military), Mason’s growth and change during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, and his affiliation with Master of Fine Arts-Creative Writing Program at George Mason, from which Mr. Flanagan was the first graduate. The interview also included his memories of the small but growing student facilities, Dr. George W. Johnson’s presidency, and Mr. Flanagan’s recent work as a columnist for The Hampshire Review in Romney, West Virginia and his trilogy of novels from a journal of his time as a soldier in Vietnam titled The A.S.A. Trilogy.

flanagan blog post

Mr. Robert Flanagan at Gateway Library’s One-Button Studio

The interview is available for viewing in the Libraries’ Special Collections & Archives department. For more information about the University Libraries’ George Mason University Oral History Program, please visit the program’s website.

 

 

The Booknotes Oral History Program

Some of the 801 volumes that are part of the Brian Lamb Booknotes Collection, George Mason University Libraries, Special Collections & Archives.

Some of the 801 volumes that are part of the Brian Lamb Booknotes Collection, George Mason University Libraries, Special Collections & Archives.

One of the many unique collections housed here at University Libraries’ Special Collections & Archives department is the Booknotes collection. Booknotes was a popular television program on C-SPAN hosted by the network’s creator, Brian Lamb, which ran from April 1989 through December 2004. The weekly hour-long program featured intense and educational one-on-one interviews with non-fiction authors. Notable guests included Hillary Clinton, David McCullough, and David Crosby, as well as former presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush. A grant from the C-SPAN Education Foundation has allowed SC&A to preserve Lamb’s personal copies of the 801 books that were covered on the program along with notes, correspondence with authors, and reviews.

To add to this collection the “Booknotes Oral History Project” began in the spring of 2014. The project interviews authors who appeared on and others who were involved with the Booknotes television program.  To date we have completed 25 interviews. Through these interviews we investigate the impact of Brian Lamb, C-SPAN, and Booknotes on then-contemporary political thought, the reading public, and the individuals involved.

Author Douglas Brinkley. Courtesy of Rice University.

Author Douglas Brinkley. Courtesy of Rice University

Our most recent interview took place on December 11, 2014 with author Dr. Douglas Brinkley. Dr. Brinkley is a leading historian in American, corporate, presidential, and conservation history who is a professor at Rice University, a fellow at the James Baker Institute for Public Policy, the history commentator for CBS News, and a contributing editor to the magazines Vanity Fair and American Heritage. Because of his prominence we were enthusiastic to secure Dr. Brinkley’s interview.

Author Douglas Brinkley appearing on the Booknotes program, April 18, 1993. Courtesy of the C-SPAN Booknotes website.

Author Douglas Brinkley appearing on the Booknotes program, April 18, 1993. Courtesy of the C-SPAN Booknotes website

Despite suffering from a chest cold, Dr. Brinkley spoke for nearly an hour about his experience on the program and how his Booknotes appearance, and subsequent friendship with Brian Lamb, ignited the career of the newly-emerging scholar. Dr. Brinkley appeared on Booknotes on April 18, 1993 to discuss his book ­­­­­­The Majic Bus: An American Odyssey. The early exposure of Booknotes was a huge launching pad for his career. This helps to show not only how the program could affect an individual author’s career, but it also shows the ways in which Brian Lamb and C-SPAN were tastemakers, influencing which authors became significant voices in American thought.


[Excerpt from Booknotes Oral History Project Interview with Dr. Douglas Brinkley, December 11, 2014, Booknotes Oral History Collection #R0143. Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University Libraries.]

 

Dr. Brinkley also discussed how important he thinks the Booknotes collection and oral history project are.


[Excerpt from Booknotes Oral History Project Interview with Dr. Douglas Brinkley, December 11, 2014, Booknotes Oral History Collection #R0143. Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University Libraries.]

The complete Booknotes collection is available for viewing in the SC&A Reading Room, Floor 2, Wing C of Fenwick Library.

You can view the entire interview here.