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Oral History Research and Resources: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History


The Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky is recognized around the world as a leader and innovator in the collection and preservation of oral histories.  The more than 14,000 oral history interviews in our collection provide a unique look into Kentucky, American, and global histories and represent a valuable resource for researchers.  The Nunn Center recorded its first interview in 1973, and the collection focuses on 20th century Kentucky history; Appalachia; agriculture; African American history; the history of education, politics, and public policy; the arts; Kentucky writers; gender; diversity; the Civil Rights Movement; veterans; the University of Kentucky; healthcare; and industries such as the coal, equine, and bourbon industries.

Louie: Louie B. Nunn Center Blog

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On YouTube

For additional videos and playlists, see the Nunn Center YouTube channel.



Research Involving the Nunn Center

Boyd, Douglas A., Janice W. Fernheimer, and Rachel Dixon. 2015. “Indexing as Engaging Oral History Research: Using OHMS to ‘Compose History’ in the Writing Classroom.” Oral History Review 42: 352–367.

This article presents a case study about a recent collaboration between the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries and a professor at the University of Kentucky to use the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS)—an open source, free online application originally designed for enhancing archival access to oral history—as a pedagogical tool to elevate student engagement with oral history in the classroom. The authors—the oral history center director and creator of OHMS; a professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies (WRD); and an undergraduate WRD student assigned the task of using OHMS to index oral history—reflect on this collaboration from their own perspectives. This collaboration between the archive and the classroom at the University of Kentucky provides an innovative, experiential learning model for engaging undergraduate students in the critical thinking and research aspects of working with oral history, and the article reflects on the impact and potential for future applications of this model.

Fernheimer, Janice W., Douglas A. Boyd, Beth L. Goldstein, and Sarah Dorpinghaus. 2018. “Sustainable Stewardship: A Collaborative Model for Engaged Oral History Pedagogy, Community Partnership, and Archival Growth.” Oral History Review 45: 311–331.

Our University of Kentucky team of professors, archivists, and oral historians have collaborated since 2013 to develop pedagogy that enables students to encounter and engage oral history, archival materials, and local community in meaningful ways. Through the impetus of the Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project and several semesters of collaboration and iterative syllabus design, we developed “sustainable stewardship” as a replicable model for course and project design to engage undergraduates in original knowledge production while simultaneously fostering archival access and growth. In this article we trace the evolving pedagogical conversations inspired by the classroom introduction of OHMS (Oral History Metadata Synchronizer), the questions of continuity they elicit, and our team’s development of sustainable stewardship to respond to those questions. We argue that sustainable stewardship provides a model to connect the classroom, community, and the archive in enduring, mutually beneficial, and transformative ways.

McConnell Parsons, Joshua R., Jannell C. McConnell Parsons, Kathryn Kohls, and Jim Ridolfo. 2020. "Piloting an Oral History-Based CURE in a General Education Writing Course for First-Year Students." Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research 4.2: 27-34.

The authors of this study evaluate findings from a pilot implementation of a course-based undergraduate research experience integrated into a first-year general education writing classroom. In this initial pilot phase, two sections of the course were offered in fall 2018. Course participants completed retrospective precourse and postcourse measures designed to assess the course’s impact on their acquisition of research skills and their confidence related to inquiry and research. Demographic data also were collected to explore outcomes of underrepresented minority and first-generation students. Findings show a statistically significant increase in perceived research skills and in confidence related to abilities as a researcher. Moreover, although there was not a large enough sample for statistical significance, first-generation students showed large gains in confidence.

Smucker, Janneken, Doug Boyd, and Charles Hardy III. 2017. “Connecting the Classroom and the Archive: Oral History, Pedagogy, & Goin’ North.” Oral History in the Digital Age. Washington, DC: Institute of Museum and Library Services. 

The Fall 2014 and Spring 2016 West Chester University (WCU) course “The Great Migration and Digital Storytelling,” (aka, Goin’ North) centered on a archival collection of oral history interviews conducted in the 1980s with African Americans who moved to Philadelphia from the South in the 1910s and 1920s and the Black Philadelphians who greeted them. This innovative partnership between WCU professors Charles Hardy and Janneken Smucker, their students, and Doug Boyd and his team at the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries resulted in a high impact experience for students and the development of a model for collaboration between an archive and classroom using OHMS (Oral History Metadata Synchronizer) and Omeka—open source digital platforms—for the dissemination and curation of oral histories.

Terry, Kopana and Judy Sackett. 2016. "Making Oral History Interviews Accessible at the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History.Kentucky Libraries 80.3: 5-11.
An overview of the work of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, including information about collections, contributors, interview access through the SPOKEdb catalog and content management system, and the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS).

Weig, Eric, Kopana Terry and Kathryn Lybarger. 2007. "Large Scale Digitization of Oral History: A Case Study." D-Lib Magazine 13.5/6.

This article describes an oral history analog-to-digital reformatting pilot project conducted at the University of Kentucky Libraries for the purposes of preservation and access. The project includes master file creation and a custom interface for searching and retrieving Web mounted audio segments. Through a cost analysis of the project process, this article also explores what can be accomplished in this area with a large target collection and limited funding.