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Oral histories:
List of collections

Overview: The Center of Southwest Studies has collected oral histories since before the time of the Center's inception in 1964.  Interviews date from 1958 to the present.  All of them pertain to the Center's collection focus which is, for the most part, Fort Lewis College, the Four Corners region, and Indians of the Southwest.  The collection now includes 943 interviews.  Some of the interviews are the result of the Center's partnerships with the National Forest Service, Rural Video Access (Durango), and other organizations.  187 of the interviews conducted in the years 1987-1995 were produced under the direction of Dr. Richard Ellis while he was Director of the Center of Southwest Studies.  Likewise, Todd Ellison (Archivist at the Center of Southwest Studies) was the project developer for 141 of the interviews conducted in the years 1993-2001.

Access: The oral history materials are available to the public for research use in the Center's Southwest Research Library in accordance with the fair use provisions of U.S. copyright laws, subject to the Center's General Restriction Policy (which applies to the use of any and all of the Center of Southwest Studies' holdings) and any additional restrictions peculiar to the materials.  The user carries the burden and responsibility for copyright compliance.  The Center has transcriptions of most of the interviews.  To request photocopies of interview transcripts, please see the online instructions and the link to the photoduplication form at  http://swcenter.fortlewis.edu/Info_researchers/sw-18.htm 

   Online digital audio: Through a grant from the Collaborative Digitization Program(May 2005) the Center of Southwest Studies converted seventy hours of analog sound recordings into digital format for access on the Web as part of the IMLS-funded Sound Model pilot project to provide a collaborative infrastructure for digital audio. Click to read the transcription of Todd Ellison's 1994 interview with Professor Smith pertaining to the production of oral histories.  (Requires Adobe Reader free downloadable software, version 6.0 or more recent.) Also, click here to listen to that interview online: Side A  ~  Side B.

Sample quotes from Center of Southwest Studies oral history transcriptions:

"What I use the oral history for is not particularly to say well, let's find out what happened on this date.  I can look in a newspaper for that if I need to, rather, let's get the flavor, let's get attitudes, feeling about this era, about how life was.  I like to give people a sense of place and a sense of time and there's no way better to do that than to use interviews, and I'll weave them into the story in many different ways.  It's like, you know, this story you hear, if there's an automobile accident out here, you can get eight people, or seven people, or three people to look at it and tell you about it, they'll, first hand accounts, sit them right down after the accident, they will all have different ideas of what happened, and that's true of history.  When you are doing oral history, you've got to remember that.  What you are after is how they felt, how it affected them."  (Interview of Professor Duane Smith by Todd Ellison on 1994-02-17.  Dr. Smith has written more books on Colorado's history than anyone else ever before, and in many of his books he uses oral history data he gathered.)  [filename=FLCu001283]

"When we hit that depression days, Herb Hoover was the president.  The animals, they were worth nothing.  Nothing.  Wages come down to very little so but people work for whatever they find.  Find [living] quarters and they work till late.  They work for quarters."  (Interview of  Jose G. "Willie" Gallegos by Jackson Lee, 1998-03-28.  Mr. Gallegos was a longtime sheep and cattle rancher, age 92 at the time of the interview.)  [filename=FLCu004516]

"Grandma gave birth to a baby boy who was John Decker's father.  On the 6th of April, six days after they had arrived in Bluff.  Of course the baby was born in the covered wagon.  They took the wagon off the wheels, and set it under the shade of a big old cottonwood tree.  Now it would have been a little earlier than right now and it’s kind of cool now to have a baby out here in a covered wagon.  Anyway that's what they did.  Then the land there was barren.  They wasn't very much land, and the soil was such that when they put the water on it and make ditches, there would come a flood and it would just completely take out everything."  (Interview of Fern Decker Ellis by Patricia K. Everett, May 17, 1994.)  [filename=FLCu004089]

"You know, with railroaders, you never to listen to one of them when they were by themselves because they fib.  They tell stories that are fibs, but when you get them all together, they kind of watch what they say."  (Interview of Alfred G. Chione, M.D. by Todd Ellison on 1996-11-21.  Dr. Chione donated much of Rio Grande Southern Railroad records and photographs that are at the Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College.) [filename=FLCu004487]

"The history of the [Durango Four Corners] area is tremendous and not only that, but tremendously interesting and the more you dig into it, the more interesting it becomes, and there's no end to it." (Statement by Arthur Wyatt, former state Representative and long-time resident of the San Juan Basin, 1970-02-26, in a television program co-hosted by Robert Delaney and Wyatt.)  [filename=FLCu004449]

Alphabetical list of oral history collections at the Center of Southwest Studies

(with a  link to each page, which describes each interview in that collection)

Collection U 016: American Indian Historical Research Project at the University of New Mexico  (25 interviews)

Collection U 008: American Indian Oral History Project at the University of Utah: the Duke collection (34 interviews)

Collection U 018: Andrew Gulliford oral history collection (37 interviews)

Collection U 003: Durango oral history collection (98 interviews)

Collection U 017: Farmington (N.M.) oral history project (29 interviews)

Collection U 001: Fort Lewis College oral history collection (143 interviews)    Includes some online digital audio.

Collection U 012: Southern Ute oral history collection (22 interviews)  Includes some online digital audio.

Collection U 004: Southwest oral history collection (438 interviews)    Includes some online digital audio.

Collection U 005: Theodore Hetzel audio recordings  (Native Americans throughout the United States) Includes some online digital audio.

Collection U 002: U.S. Forest Service Centennial Oral History Project (36 interviews)

Collection U 010: U.S. Forest Service Mancos District Cherry Creek Thompson Park Oral History Project (13 interviews)

Collection U 013: Vallecito Dam Oral History Project (9 interviews) Includes some online digital audio.

Collection U 011: World War II Oral History Project (15 interviews)

Guides to the collections at the Center of Southwest Studies

Information for doing research at the Center of Southwest Studies

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Page revised: February 07, 2008