The Carnegie Library for Local History began collecting oral histories in 1976. In the early 1980s, the program was led by Maria Rogers, a volunteer manager. After the death of Maria, her family worked with the Boulder Public Library Foundation (BPLF) to endow the program and fund a coordinator position. With this endowment the program was named the Maria Rogers Oral History Program (MROHP). Oral history is one way the library fulfills its mission of helping people engage with information that can enrich their lives.
Here is a snippet of the 2019 Annual Report, with a link to the full report here >
APPLES, HOUSING, FAITH AND SERVICE LEARNING = COLLABORATION
With a program that receives steady support and has an approach for handling every stage in the oral-history life cycle, MROHP is a natural partner for collaborative projects. Over the course of two years, we’ve worked with CU students who are enrolled in a service-learning practicum that ties into religious dimensions of the human experience. Students learn about oral history and conduct interviews as a means of understanding and evaluating religious life in Boulder. They critically reflect on their interactions with interviewees, and further consider how engaged citizens shape their communities. Most of these interviews are added to the MROHP collection; students connect their work to the mission of our local-history archive.
The Boulder Apple Tree Project explores the natural and cultural history of apple varieties in Boulder and the surrounding area. The science side of the project collects data on location, age and health, morphology, and cultivar identification; the human side of the project (aka, oral history) collects memories of baking pies, pressing cider, greeting neighbors, and tasting the original fruit of the Garden of Eden. With six interviews recorded, we anticipate more, as we’ll be working with graduate students involved in POP-CURE: Power of Place, Course-related Undergraduate Research Experience. Check it out: https://appletreeproject.org/
Finally, we maintain a relationship with the Boulder Affordable Housing Research Initiative, which focuses on individuals living in, seeking, or supporting affordable housing options in Boulder. MROHP trained their researchers and undergraduate assistants to collect oral histories; these recordings (transcribed and archived with Carnegie) complement other types of observation by centering the individual as the narrator of her own story and reducing intervention or prompting by the researcher.