Oral Histories and Sound Recordings

The Society began conducting and collecting oral histories in 1976. In addition, the collection includes sound recordings, radio broadcasts, speeches, and music that span the 1930s to the present. The collection contains over 13,000 items, including phonodiscs and tapes, transcripts, summaries, outlines, and indices. Principal topics are agriculture, architecture, business and industry, education, environmental affairs, ethnic culture, family history, geography, government, the Great Depression, local history, medicine, military, organizations, science and technology, sports, transportation, urban planning, and World War II.

For questions regarding the oral history and sound recording collections, please contact Sarah Stroman, Oral History Librarian, at sara.stroman@ohs.org

If you are interested in ordering reproductions from our collection, please visit our Reproduction and Research Services page for more information.

A portion of the Research Library's oral histories are searchable via the online catalog. Many full-length oral histories are currently available on OHS Digital Collections, with more added regularly. Some highlights include:

Oral History Interviews with Charles Lewis Hayward.

A WWI veteran, he discusses his experiences during the war, including military balloon reconnaissance.




The US District Court Oral History Project

Since 1984, the Oregon Historical Society has partnered with the United States District Court of Oregon Historical Society to interview judges, lawyers, and other legal professionals affiliated with that Court.

With an appeal rate at around 10%, the decisions made by the District Court of Oregon have been deeply influential on the laws and peoples of the state. It has presided over decisions on public land disputes and fishing rights, as well as civil rights and law enforcement. The stories of the people that make up this judicial body provide a valuable tool for helping the public understand the pivotal role the court has had on Oregon's history.


Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest

The Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN) was established in Portland, Oregon, by Tom Cook in the early 1990s. Since then, the organization has collected archival materials and oral histories from organizations and individuals active in lesbian and gay issues in the Portland area and throughout the Pacific Northwest. Portland State University students gathered many of these oral histories, spanning from the late 1990s to the present.


Fred Meyer Oral History Project

The Fred Meyer Oral History Project discusses the business operations and the man behind the Fred Meyer brand, one of the first self-service grocery stores in the nation. The popular chain innovated the concept of one-stop shopping, paving the way for the modern superstore.


Oregon Legislature Oral History Series

Part of a decade-long project, these interviews are primarily conducted with state officials, including senators, representatives, secretaries of state, treasurers, and governors, who held office mostly between 1960 and 1998.

Interviewees include Victor Atiyeh, the first Arab American Governor in the United States; Maurine Neuberger, Oregon's first and only female state senator; Clay Myers, Oregon Secretary of State and State Treasurer, and a leader in Land-Use planning; and Monroe Sweetland, a native Oregonian who was politically active across the nation.


Oregon Labor Oral History Program

The Oregon Labor Oral History Program is an offshoot of the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association, run by a former OHS oral historian. Building upon the work of AFL-CIO member, Nellie Fox Edwards, in the 1980s, the OLOHP aims to preserve the collective history of labor unions and work life.


Oregon Historical Society Nominated Oral Histories

This ongoing series features interviews from a pool of Oregonians nominated by a staff committee appointed by the OHS Executive Director. The purpose of these interviews is to create historical documents of enduring value that will enhance and expand the range of Oregon voices preserved by the OHS Research Library and that will complement existing collections and programs of the Oregon Historical Society and address goals for collection development and community engagement.


Sound Recording Duplication Requests:

Visit our Reproduction and Research Services page for more information if you are interested in ordering reproductions from our collection.

Conducting and Donating Oral History Interviews

If you are interested in conducting an oral history, please refer to the Oral History Association's website for resources on principles and best practices.

If you are interested in hiring an Oral Historian to conduct an oral history, view this list of oral historians in the Portland Metro Area (pdf). This list may be updated periodically.

If you wish to donate an oral history to the Oregon Historical Society, please ensure you have a signed legal release (pdf).

Legal Release FAQs (PDF)