Oral Histories


How to Locate Oral Histories

Approximately 650 oral histories are processed and available for public use. A list of these  oral histories can be found here: Oral History Collection Inventory

The inventory is in order by call number and provides name of interviewee and interviewer, biographical information, date of inteview, project (if applicable), restrictions, and materials available for each interview (i.e. transcript, time index, newspaper clippings, etc). All interviews include an audio recording except where indicated.

Some of the oral histories can also be located through the main library catalog.

The oral history collection contains interviews, recorded events such as speeches, research papers, and other items. Many of the oral histories also contain supplemental materials including tape indexes, interview summaries, newspaper and periodical clippings, ephemera, and photographs.

Copies of transcripts, other printed material, and audio recordings can be requested by filling out the Oral History Copy Order Form.  For photocopies of printed materials the cost per page is $.25, along with a service charge of $10.00 for each order. The charge for digital copies of audio recordings, provided on CDs, is $3.00/per tape, with a $10.00 service charge for each CD required to complete the order.

For MdHS policies on acquiring permission to use material from the oral history collections for print or media publications please see the Oral History Permission to Publish Form

The Library also has a station for patrons to listen to recordings from the collection. If you are interested in listening to a particular oral history, please email the Special Collections Department at specialcollections@mdhs.org at least a week prior to your planned visit. Only a small percentage of our oral history collection has been converted to digital format at this point, and staff will need time to digitize the recording from the original cassette format if it hasn’t yet been converted.

Oral History Projects and Series

There are a number of oral history collections and projects within the overall collection, such the McKeldin-Jackson Project, 1969-1977, which features interviews from participants in the civil rights movement, and the Baltimore Neighborhood Heritage Project, 1978-1982, a collection of interviews from residents of various Baltimore neighborhoods. Click on a collection title below to view a description of each collection, lists of interviewees, and links to other resources.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Company Corporate History Project, 1982-1984

Baltimore Interfaith Series, 1974-1976

Baltimore Neighborhood Heritage Project, 1978-1982

Baltimore Symphony Series, 1977

Civilian Conservation Corps Veteran Project, 1980

Doris M. Johnson Project: My Neighborhood: A Social and Cultural History of Northeast Baltimore, 2005

Doris M. Johnson Project: Civil Rights Movement Series, 2006-2007

Doris M. Johnson Project: Collision - People and Events that Shaped the Vietnam Era in Maryland, 2008

Doris M. Johnson Project: We Had a Job to Do: Marylanders at Home and Abroad during World War II, 2008-2009

East-West Expressway Collection, 1974

Generation to Generation Project: The Living Legacy of Older Persons, 1979-1980

"The Last Day of the Old World" Project, 1978

Maryland Artist Series, 1975-1976

Maryland Sports Collection, 1976-1977

McKeldin-Jackson Project, 1969-1977

Saving a Community's Recollections: Takoma Park Oral History Project, 2001

Small Ethnic Credit Institutions in Baltimore, 1972

U.S. Frigate Constellation Series, 1975-1980

About the MdHS Oral History Collection:

Betty Key, Director of the Oral History Office, OH 8441The Oral History Office at the Maryland Historical Society was established in 1971. The office never had a full time staff, with most of the interviews conducted by volunteers and students. Interviews were also obtained from private donors who had conducted interviews for their own purposes, but sought a permanent repository for the materials. Local programs, either with short term funding or ongoing in schools or libraries, have deposited tapes at the Society or given copies of some from their collection.

For the first few years of its existence, the Oral History Office conducted interviews primarily on an individual basis; later, larger scale interview projects were conducted that coalesced around various themes including civil rights, religion, arts and culture, and sports. The first planned collection of oral histories was the East-West Expressway Collection in 1974.

In 1981 the Oral History Office was terminated due to financing. Since then, additions to the oral history collection of the Maryland Historical Society have been acquired through donations and by projects conducted by the MdHS Education Department. The special collections staff is currently working on inventorying and preparing these oral histories for public use.