About the Kentucky Oral History CommissionOral History Timeline:
1948 - Columbia University Oral History Research Office is created
1954 - The University of California at Berkeley begins the Regional Oral History Office (ROHO)
1959 - University of California Los Angeles' Center for Oral History Research is institutionalized
1960 - Harry S. Truman Library is the first presidential library with an oral history program
1967 - Oral History Association is founded
1987 - International Oral History Association is founded
1970 - Appalachian Oral History Project at Alice Lloyd College and Lees College is established
1970 - Western Kentucky University folklife archives are established
1973 - Murray State University creates the Forrest C. Pogue Oral History Institute
1973 - University of Kentucky starts the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History
1973 -University of Louisville starts what is today the Oral History Center
1976 - Eastern Kentucky University's Oral History Center is created
1976 - Kentucky Bicentennial Oral History Commission is formed by Gov. Julian Carroll
Kentucky Oral History Commission:
1976 - Ky. Bicentennial Oral History Commission under the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives
1982 - Name is changed to the Kentucky Oral History Commission and legislation enacted to create the office as an independent agency
1992 - KOHC, through an executive order, is placed as a new agency within the Kentucky Historical Society
What is the Kentucky Oral History Commission?
KOHC began as an innovative approach to state support for oral history, the Kentucky Bicentennial Oral History Commission, established by Gov. Julian Carroll at the urging of two Kentucky journalists, Al Smith and John Ed Pearce.
KOHC has a unique program dedicated to the documentation of the oral history of Kentucky's rich history and culture. We encourage documentation of statewide, regional and community historical events through technical training in conducting oral history interviews, grant funding to support developed oral history projects as well as preservation and an accessible secure repository for oral history interviews conducted throughout the state.
KOHC, through financial assistance and support over the years with our granting programs, has provided for the collection of more than 25,000 oral history interviews collected by university programs and independent researchers statewide. The KOHC archives, located at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, holds more than 8,000 interviews and amounts to more than 12,000 individual recordings.
In 1991, the Commission completed a statewide survey and published a guide to 214 oral history collections at 49 repositories (now available online). This guide is periodically updated. If your organization would like to contribute to this guide, please contact Sarah.Milligan@ky.gov
In its most ambitious project to date, KOHC completed a four-year project on the Civil Rights movement in Kentucky with the University of Louisville as a primary partner. The award-winning project resulted in the collection of more than 200 interviews, the video "Living the Story: The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky" and an online database that provides access to more than 10,000 pages of transcripts as well as audio and video from the collection.
What is in store for the future?
As the Kentucky Oral History Commission looks back over thirty years of achievement, it also looks forward to addressing the significant challenges that face oral history programs and repositories. Providing greater access to oral history collections for scholars and students will remain a high priority as will ensuring the long-term preservation of Kentucky's rich oral history collections.
In the years to come, the Commission will continue to support its primary mission to document Kentucky history and culture while offering training and leadership in the application of digital recording technology.
Who is on the Kentucky Oral History Commission?
KOHC has a 12-member board. Ten members are appointed by the governor and two, the director of the Kentucky Historical Society and the commissioner for the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, serve as ex-officio members.
An advisory board, consisting primarily of oral historians from throughout the state, assists the Commission with reviewing grants and developing program policies. Program activities are carried out by one full-time employee.
Kentucky Oral History Commission Board
Richard Taylor (chair)
Fred Joseph (vice-chair)
Kim Lady Smith
Wayne Onkst, ex officio
Kent Whitworth, ex officio
Kentucky Oral History Commission Advisory Board
J. Blaine Hudson
O. Leonard Press
Michael Ann Williams
Sarah Milligan has been the administrator for the Kentucky Oral History Commission since June 2007. She has a master's degree in folk studies from Western Kentucky University's Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology and worked as a folklife specialist for the Kentucky Folklife Program (an interagency Department of the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Arts Council) before joining the Commission. During her time with the KFP, she worked as the statewide community scholars coordinator and continues her enjoyment of working with communities in developing oral history projects. As administrator for KOHC, Milligan hopes to assist with a statewide oral history preservation effort as well as encourage new and exciting oral history documentation in Kentucky.