By Troy Reeves
Thanks to a professional development grant, I spent a few days earlier this month visiting colleagues in Oklahoma and Texas, hoping to steal — I mean borrow! — ideas and procedures to improve the UW-Madison oral history program. Two of the scholars I met with, Stephen Sloan and Todd Moye, will also help lead next month’s Oral History Association annual meeting in Oklahoma City. So while learning about their oral history programs, I also picked their brains about the upcoming conference.
Both Sloan and Moye were enthusiastic to describe how all the meeting’s content should spark attendees’ interest. When I reminded them that I had only 500 words, not 5,000, to preview the conference, they graciously focused on some specifics. (Mary Larson, the third scholar with whom I met, has served as OHA’s president for the last two years. Curiously, this led her to say that while she knows she will love the content at this year’s event, her favorite moment will arise when she hands the presidential gavel to Sloan at Sunday’s business meeting!)
Sloan wants readers to be aware of a new aspect of this year’s conference: interest groups. In response to feedback from previous meetings, attendees with have the opportunity to attend one of eight concurrent sessions on early Thursday afternoon. Sloan hopes that this will give folks a chance to meet in small groups, and in a setting less formal than the typical 90-minute session. While interest or affinity groups have occurred before, Sloan believes this iteration could start a concerted, long-term effort to make such gatherings a permanent part of subsequent annual meetings. He also hopes it will facilitate the creation of groups to inform OHA’s executive director, council, and committees year round.
Moye says that in addition to a typically strong lineup of concurrent sessions and plenaries, he is excited about the slate of workshops and special events, particularly those occurring outside the hotel. These events — the Presidential Reception and a special Friday evening session — and their locales — the Oklahoma History Center and the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum — will offer special, place-based content, not just an excuse to hold an event or two outside the hotel’s environs.
In concert, these two acknowledge the great work that Moye’s program co-chair, Beth Milwood, has done as the third member of the program leadership trio. They also want me to note the Wednesday Reception, which will honor Milwood and Jacquelyn Dowd Hall for their years of service to the Southern Oral History Program.
Finally, I take author’s prerogative here to conclude by plugging the Oral History Review’s presence at the conference. As always, there will be the editorial team’s information table and our annual book table — this year staffed by new Book Review Editor David Caruso. On Wednesday morning, Kathy Nasstrom, Doug Boyd, and I will lead a half-day workshop, “Thinking and Writing Digitally” that I hope you will attend. Additionally, Jennifer Abraham Cramer will be keeping her eye out for non-print media; and Steven Sielaff, newly hired at Baylor’s Institute for Oral History, will be serving as our conference editorial assistant.
For more information about the conference, go to the OHA’s landing page for the 2013 annual meeting. And I hope to see you there!
Troy Reeves is the Oral History Review’s Managing Editor (though, thus far, no one has been as impressed with that title as Reeves thinks they should.) He also oversees the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s oral history program, which is housed in the UW-Madison Archives. In his spare time, he tries — quite unsuccessfully — to teach the OHR’s Social Media Coordinator about 1970s and 1980s Americana.
The Oral History Review, published by the Oral History Association, is the U.S. journal of record for the theory and practice of oral history. Its primary mission is to explore the nature and significance of oral history and advance understanding of the field among scholars, educators, practitioners, and the general public. Follow them on Twitter at @oralhistreview, like them on Facebook, add them to your circles on Google Plus, follow them on Tumblr, listen to them on Soundcloud, or follow the latest OUPblog posts via email or RSS to preview, learn, connect, discover, and study oral history.