Oral History Collection

With over 4,800 interviews, the oral history collection continues to actively produce and collect oral history interviews that represent Missouri’s culture and history.  Researchers will also find that the Society's oral history collection reaches well beyond the Show-Me State’s borders.

View All Oral History Collections

Accessing the Oral History Collection

Transcripts, audio, and video can be accessed for free at any of the State Historical Society of Missouri research centers. If you are planning to visit a SHSMO research center, please submit a research request to ensure the transcripts, audio, or video you'd like to access can be transferred to your preferred center and will be available on the dates of your visit.

For researchers who would like to complete research remotely, you can submit a request for research services and a research center staff member will assist you with your research for a fee. If requesting a specific transcript, that is already in a digital format, the research fee will be waived. There is also a selection of oral history transcripts available online.

Submit a Research Request

Note: Audio and video materials held by the State Historical Society of Missouri may be duplicated on a case-by-case basis. Some audio and video material cannot be duplicated due to copyright or other restrictions.

Using the Oral History Collection

When citing any work, always consult and follow the guidelines of the teacher, professor or editor that you are writing for or the style manual you’ve been asked to follow.

In general, the following information should be included:

  • name of interviewee
  • name of the interviewer
  • date and place of interview
  • audio recording or transcript
  • where the transcribed or audio/visual recording of the interview can be found.
During the early years of the Politics in Missouri Oral History Project, the audio tapes were restricted from public use because it was believed they held no historical value in themselves other than to aid production of the transcript, and that transcripts were better and clearer representation of the oral history. This policy no longer guides the program, but we must honor agreements as originally made. Only on rare occasions will restrictions be placed on any audio portion of oral histories produced in recent years.



Forms and Documents


The following list of oral history books from the State Historical Society of Missouri’s book collection is not meant to be comprehensive. Rather, it is intended as a select bibliography to help individuals who are interested in learning more about the field of oral history and what it encompasses. The call numbers listed for each book are specific to SHSMO, and may not be applicable to other institution’s cataloging systems. SHSMO’s books are for library use only and may not be checked out.

  • Baum, Willa K. Oral History for the Local Historical Society. Nashville, TN: American Association for State and Local History, 1987. [Call # 907.2 B327]
  • Baum, Willa K. Transcribing and Editing Oral History. Nashville, TN: American Association for State and Local History, 1991. [Call # 907.2 B327t]
  • Charlton, Thomas L., Lois E. Myers, and Rebecca Sharpless, ed. Handbook of Oral History. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2006. [Call # 907.2 C381]
  • Dunaway, David K. and Willa K. Baum, ed. Oral History: An Interdisciplinary Anthology. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 1996. [Call # 907.2 Or1 1996]
  • Epstein, Ellen Robinson and Jane Lewit. Record and Remember: Tracing Your Roots Through Oral History. Lanham, MD: Scarborough House, 1994. [Call # 929 Ep85 1994]
  • Lanman, Barry A. and Laura M. Wendling, ed. Preparing the Next Generation of Oral Historians: An Anthology of Oral History Education. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006. [Call # 907.2 L279]
  • Mercier, Laurie and Madeline Buckendorf. Using Oral History in Community History Projects. Rock Springs, WY: Oral History Association, 1992. [Call # 907.2 M536]
  • McMahan, Eva M. and Kim Lacy Rogers, ed. Interactive Oral History Interviewing. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum Associates, 1994. [Call # 907.2 M227]
  • Ritchie, Donald A. Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2003. [Call # 907.2 R511 2003]
  • Sommer, Barbara W. and Mary Kay Quinlan. The Oral History Manual. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2002. [Call # 907.2 So55]
  • Whitman, Glenn. Dialogue with the Past: Engaging Students & Meeting Standards through Oral History. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2004. [Call # 907.2 W592]
  • Yow, Valerie Raleigh. Recording Oral History: A Guide for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2005. [Call # 907.2 Y89 2005]

Other Oral History Programs, Collections, and Resources

Within Missouri

Outside Missouri

Oral History Collecting

Since 1993, the State Historical Society has had a full-time oral historian recording and transcribing hundreds of oral history interviews that preserve Missouri’s history, culture, and heritage.

The first project of the oral history program focused on artists from Missouri's Bootheel region.  The project, a collaboration with the University of Missouri Folk Arts Program and Museum of Art and Archaeology, was supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Missouri Arts Council.  Researchers collected oral history interviews and other recordings, which resulted in Art and Heritage of the Missouri Bootheel: A Resource Guide (pdf, 8mb).


Current Projects

The following are active collections, in which we are currently interviewing, transcribing, editing, and adding to continuously.

Please check back often for new additions.

International Women's Forum-St. Louis (IWF), Oral History Collection, 2013-2015 (S1148)
The International Women's Forum-St. Louis Oral History Collection (IWF) is a project conducted by the State Historical Society of Missouri-St. Louis. The forum, founded by Elinor "Elly" Guggenheimer in 1974 began with the intention of bringing women in leadership together to share their experiences and today has grown into building, "better global leadership across careers, continent and cultures by connecting the world's most pre-eminent women of significant and diverse achievement." The collection began in 2013 by video recording members of the St. Louis forum and was brought to the Historical Society by fellow member Dr. Blanche M. Touhill (Chancellor Emeritus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis) and seeks to document who these women are and how they established themselves as successful, enterprising leaders in the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

Joplin Tornado Oral History Project, Records, 2011- (C4095)
The collection consists of interviews with people who experienced, were affected by, and/or were a part of the devastating EF5 multiple-vortex tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, on May 22, 2011. The focus of this project is to help document the community of Joplin both before and after the tornado, as well as the rebuilding of this community. The collection consists of digitally recorded interviews, transcripts (forthcoming), and ephemera.

Missouri Desegregation and Civil Rights Oral History Project, Records, 2013- (C4116)
The collection consists of interviews with people who attended Douglass and/or Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri. The collection consists of digitally recorded interviews, audio logs, and photographs. The collection is ongoing and open to interviews concerning any school and/or civil rights topic in Missouri.

Missouri Environment Oral History Project, Records, 1997- (C3966)
The Missouri Environmental Oral History Project began in 1997. The project seeks to document the history of conservation, preservation, environmentalism, land and natural resource use in Missouri.

The interviews fall under the following subject areas:

  • Agriculture
    Environmental Politics
    National Parks
    Outdoor Photography
    Outdoor Writing
    Ozark National Scenic Riverways
    Wildlife Conservation

Missouri Ex-POWs Oral History Project, Records, 2000- (C3975)
Since 2000, the Missouri Ex-POWs Oral History Project has sought to record, preserve, and honor the personal histories of the state's former prisoners of war. Most interviewees were prisoners of either the German or Japanese military during World War II.

The initial phase of the project concentrated on members of the American Ex-Prisoners of War, Heart of America Chapter based in Kansas City, Missouri. The American Ex-Prisoners of War (AX-POW) is a national, non-profit organization of American citizens who were captured by the enemy. Researchers will note that some of the interviewees, although members of the Missouri-based chapter, were living in Kansas at the time of the interview.

Missouri German Heritage Corridor Oral History Project, Records, 2018- (C4354)
A collaborative project between the State Historical Society of Missouri and the Missouri Humanities Council, this collection emphasizes the past and present influence of German heritage in Missouri, including historic sites, past people, notable conflicts, religious influence, agriculture, music, art, and architecture. The German Heritage Corridor will focus on the counties north and south of the Missouri River, from St. Charles and St. Louis, to Chariton, Saline, and Lafayette. This corridor includes several distinct German communities, including New Melle, Herman, Dutzow, and Westphalia. The collection consists of interviews with Missourians who have lived in the German Heritage Corridor and have worked to promote and preserve its cultural institutions.

Missouri Innovation & Exploration Oral History Project, Records, 2018- (C4352)
The Missouri Innovation & Exploration Oral History Project is a regular, on-going project conducted by the State Historical Society of Missouri. The project seeks to document aerospace, medical, scientific, industrial, engineering, and technological innovations developed in Missouri or by Missourians.

Missouri Lives, Oral History Project, Records, 2014- (C4249)
The collection consists of interviews with a wide array of Missourians who have had an interesting personal history and life. The collection consists of digitally recorded interviews, transcripts, and ephemera.

Missouri Newspapers Oral History Project, Records, 1996- (C3965)
Interviews with Missouri newspaper people regarding the history and evolution of newspapers in Missouri. The records include audio cassettes, transcripts, logs, notes, correspondence, and related ephemera.

Missouri Sports & Recreation Oral History Project (C4377)
The Missouri Sports & Recreation Oral History Project seeks to document the history of sports and recreation in Missouri, as well as notable competitive activities and events involving Missourians. Topics and issues addressed include organized sports, recreation, sports administration, and sports journalism.

Missouri Veterans Oral History Project, 2006- (C4020)
The Missouri Veterans Oral History Project, begun in 2008, builds on the Ex-POWs Oral History Project, expanding the scope for collecting, documenting, and preserving the personal histories of Missourians who served in U.S. military conflicts and war. Currently, the project focus is on veterans of World War II, but will eventually include oral histories of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, as well as more recent Middle Eastern conflicts.

Missouri Veterans History Project, Oral History Records, 2010- (C4052)
The records of the Missouri Veterans History Project contain the local copy of veteran oral history interviews recorded for the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress. The records include audio, video, interview logs, and some transcripts. The former Western Historical Manuscript Collection, a joint collection with the State Historical Society of Missouri, was a founding partner of the Veterans History Project in 2001.

One-room Schoolhouse Oral History Project, Records, 2008- (C4051)
Interviews with people who attended or taught at one-room schoolhouses.

Politics in Missouri Oral History Project, Records, 1996- (C3929)
Begun in 1996, the Politics in Missouri Oral History Project is the longest continuous effort of The Oral History Program. Mid- to late-twentieth century Missouri political history remains under-studied, and we hope to address this void by making a large new resource available to the public and the scholarly community. Currently, the collection contains over 160 oral histories.

The project continually seeks interviews with former Missouri legislators, governors, state-wide elected officials, aides, lobbyists, and various political participants.

Women as Change Agents, Oral History Collection, 2015-2019, (SA1207)
Due to the successful participation and interest in the International Women's Forum-St. Louis (IWF) Oral History Collection a new collection of interviews called Women as Change Agents began in 2014 and is an on-going project developed by the State Historical Society of Missouri-St. Louis in collaboration with Dr. Blanche M. Touhill. Where the IWF-St. Louis Collection left off the Women as Change Agents Oral History Collection began and features women outside of the forum who are viewed as leaders and agents of change in their professional and personal lives within the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County. These notable women contain valuable experiences in leadership in numerous vocations including civil engineering, law, economics, education, medicine, community organizing and non-profit creators during times of great political drama and a changing social landscape.