Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hard to Find Resources I: Columbia University Oral History Microfiche Collection

Green Library has many rich resources which are still only found in microform formats, whether on microfilm reels or microfiche cards. This is the first in a series of blog posts designed to highlight and hopefully expose some of these resources, many of which can be difficult to locate via SOCRATES.

The Columbia University Oral History Research Office is "the oldest and largest organized oral history program in the world." Founded in 1948, the collection contains over 8,000 taped interviews comprising nearly 1,000,000 pages of transcripts.

While many of the interviews (tapes and transcripts) are available only in the Oral History Collection at Columbia, a microfiche project in the 1970s and 1980s transferred over 1,100 interview typescripts to microfiche cards. Stanford purchased Parts I-V; it is cataloged as Microfiche 58 in SOCRATES. A guide, titled Columbia University Oral History Microfiche Collection: A Cumulative Index to Memoirs in Parts I-V is available on the reference shelves in Media-Microtext; Columbia's Oral History Research Office also has a version (including individuals in Part VI) online.

Importantly, most (with the exception of many interviews in Part IV) of the interviews are not cataloged separately in SOCRATES. Fortunately, the microfiche cards are arranged in alphabetical order (regardless of Series #), making it a bit easier to find a given individual.

For Series I of the collection there is a detailed name and subject index for every page of each memoir. Each citation has an abbreviated name of the memoirist and the page on which the item being discussed appears in the memoir. Unfortunately, such a detailed index was only produced for Part I.