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About the Oral History Collection

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Oral histories provide important personal accounts of historical events. Over 100 oral histories, available on audio cassette in Perry Library's Special Collections, have been digitized and made available here. The majority of these materials are interviews with former and present administrators, faculty, and staff of Old Dominion University, compiled during research on various stages in the university's history. Additional interviews were conducted with members of the Tidewater community and others. More interviews will be added as they are conducted.

 

 

In 1974, James R. Sweeney was appointed University Archivist. One of his initial tasks was to write a history of the university for its fiftieth anniversary in 1980. To accomplish this task, he set out to interview long-time faculty members and administrators to record their knowledge of and experiences at Old Dominion University. See one of the letters he sent to an interviewee. Dr. Sweeney tape-recorded the interviews and prepared transcripts for most of them. The cassette tapes and transcripts are available in Special Collections. Additional tapes have been added to the oral history collection and include interviews given by community leaders covering various topics.

 

In January 2000, the library began the process of preserving and displaying this valuable collection. Analog copies of the audio cassette tapes were created and converted to .wav format to produce a digital archive on cd-rom. These files were converted to RealAudio format for Web accessibility. The existing transcripts were digitized in their original typed form, with some minor corrections made to spelling and formatting. They were marked up in HTML for Web page presentation and to allow for keyword searching. Transcriptions for the tapes that were not already transcribed were created.

 

In Summer 2005, we began the process of enhancing most of the interviews by listening to each tape, proofing most of the transcripts, and making changes as necessary. We added photographs, where available, and header information, and we expanded the interview information pages through additional research.

 

With the oral histories available on the Web, researchers interested in the history of ODU and the Tidewater area will have quick, remote access to these valuable resources. A preservation benefit is that the 30-year old tapes and transcripts will not be handled. The value added to the collection includes searchability of the entire collection and the integration of both audio and text.

 

Technical Information: Staff from the Digital Services Center and the Reference Department are responsible for the digitization of the collection. A Fujitsu Duplex M3093DG scanner was used with TextBridge to convert the print transcripts. Word and DreamWeaver were used to convert the files to html. A JVC TDW550 Stereo Double Cassette Deck with CoolEdit software was used to convert the audio tapes. RealProducer Pro was then used for the RealMedia conversion. The archival audio files were written to cd-rom with a Smart & Friendly CD-R 8020.

 

Contact Karen Vaughan kvaughan@odu.edu, 757-683-4184 for more information about the project.

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