Kentucky Oral History Commission

From tenant farmers and lay midwives to political leaders and nationally acclaimed authors, the Kentucky Oral History Commission (KOHC), administered by Kentucky Historical Society, reaches across the state to record and preserve the diverse stories that are a part of Kentucky’s rich and colorful history. Nationally, KOHC is the only state commission committed to statewide oral history documentation through granting programs and outreach. Since 1976 KOHC has:

  • Awarded more than $1 million to more than 600 grants to individuals, colleges, universities and community organizations, resulting in the collection of more than 35,000 interviews located at repositories throughout the state.
  • Established a collection of nearly 10,000 interviews, one of the largest in the United States, at the Kentucky Historical Society.

Kentucky Oral History Commission Members

Kentucky Oral History Commission Members May 2021
(Appointed under the stipulations of KRS 153.380)

Brian Clardy
Bob Gates
Mark W. Neff
William F. Reed
Shana Goggins
Carolyn Noe
Anthony Harkins
Amanda Bush Matthews
Zach Morgan
Theresa May Osborne

Scott Alvey, Executive Director, Kentucky Historical Society
Terry Manuel, State Librarian, Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives

Upcoming Meetings

Per Executive Order 2020-243 § 3 The Kentucky Oral History Commission will hold its annual spring meeting remotely on May 7, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. via video teleconference.

Request for Proposals: COVID-19 in Kentucky Oral History Interviews

The Kentucky Oral History Commission (KOHC) has received funding through a Kentucky Humanities Council CARES Grant to document the Covid-19 crisis through the diverse experiences of Kentuckians. This project will deepen humanity’s research on the global pandemic for decades to come while allowing us to process our shared experiences.

The KOHC is accepting proposals from oral history practitioners for up to five interviews and is especially interested in the experiences of healthcare workers, grocery stores and other essential workers, teachers and school administrators, small business owners, demonstrators, and more. Accepted proposals will receive a paid honorarium ($100 per interview*). Eligible proposals include previously conducted COVID-19 related interviews (i.e. retroactive payment).
*A single oral history interview session typically runs between 45 and 120 minutes.

This opportunity is open to all Kentucky residents, age 18 and older. Groups, organizations and programs may apply. The KOHC will accept one proposal of up to five interviews per applicant. Eligible applicants may come from any background, whether local historian, academic, professional, community scholar, etc. Student work is welcome! The proposal must demonstrate the applicant understands the Principles for Oral History and Best Practices for Oral History.

Preferably, interviews should be recorded using a digital, solid-state recorder or a computer with audio recording software and an external microphone. The preferred file format is an uncompressed (i.e. WAV) file, at 96Hz, 24-bit. The KOHC recognizes that remote interviewing may be necessary for the health and safety of the interviewee and interviewer, and will accept some compromises in recording standard for this project. Please review this webinar video to better understand the expectations and to determine the best equipment and recording platforms for remote interviewing.

Submit a one-page proposal to oral history administrator Sarah M. Schmitt, which includes the following: Your oral history interview experience, your reasons or goals for conducting the interview(s), a list of existing interviews or your potential interviewees, topics you explored or will explore, sample interview questions or a clip of the existing interview, and the equipment you did use or will use.

Important Dates
Aug. 28, 2020 – Proposal submission deadline
Sept. 1, 2020 – Notification of proposal selection
Sept. 15, 2020 – Project agreement form due, honorarium remitted
Oct. 16, 2020 – One interview due with release form due
Oct. 31, 2020 – Brief progress report due
Dec. 18, 2020 – All interviews and release forms due

Click here for a downloadable .pdf version of the request for proposals.

Women in Government and Politics Initiative

What was it like for U.S. women to receive the vote and cast their ballots for the first time in the 1920 general election? Imagine hearing about their experiences in their own voices.

The time has passed to do oral histories with those first women voters, but we can celebrate the women who have participated in the political process since then.

To do so, the Kentucky Oral History Commission invites people to collect oral histories from such Kentucky women as poll workers; community advocates and policy influencers; those who have held local, political offices; and those who have held state political office.

Get started:

Oral History Grants

The Kentucky Oral History Commission grant programs offer monetary, equipment and training grants to assist amateur or professional oral historians with oral history research projects on topics of particular significance to Kentucky. These grants encourage statewide participation in the collection and preservation of historically valuable interviews.

KOHC also offers accreditation for archives that want to be permanent repositories for oral history collections which KOHC sponsors through grant awarded funds and resources.

Project Grant

Project grants support the creation of Kentucky oral history research projects. All projects must comply with the Oral History Association’s Principles and Best Standards.

Download the grant application (PDF)

Transcription and Indexing Grant

Transcription and indexing grants support the transcription or indexing of existing oral history interviews located in Kentucky repositories.

Download the grant application (PDF)

Preservation Grant

Preservation grants provide funding to outsource digital preservation work for a collection at risk of information loss or irreversible deterioration.

Download the grant application (PDF)

Presentation Grant

Presentation grants support the use of existing oral history collections in a variety of media including traditional exhibit, online exhibit, film, print publication, radio and podcast.

Download the grant application (PDF)

Presentation grants support the use of existing oral history collections in a variety of media including traditional exhibit, online exhibit, film, print publication, radio and podcast.

Technical Assistance and Preservation Assistance Grants

Two KOHC grants are not cash-based, but they provide equipment and/or training. Applications for these grants may be submitted at any time and will be acted upon within 30 days of submission.

Technical Assistance Grant

Technical assistance grants provide audio recording equipment, recording media and applicant training for local and community oral history projects by individuals or organizations. Download the grant application (PDF).

Preservation Assistance Grant

Preservation assistance grants provide equipment for digital migration of specifically identified oral history collections and training in preservation standards and equipment use. Download the grant application (PDF).

KOHC Archival Accreditation

Archives that want to be permanent repositories for oral history collections which KOHC sponsors through grant awarded funds should receive KOHC Archival Accreditation. The guidelines, which includes a series of standards, allows KOHC to be responsible stewards of the state resources for oral history documentation and to maintain support for Kentucky repositories which continue to grow and manage their oral history collections in a responsible manner. Contact the commission for details.

Grant Recipients

For a full list of recent grant recipients, click here.

To check out Oral History Resources, click here.