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New Award for Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education

Oral History and the Archives of American Mathematics

By Kristy Sorensen

Oral history interviews can be some of the most revealing and detailed resources for archival research. A good interview can provide a researcher with a uniquely rich documentation of an individual life and a moment in history.

The Archives of American Mathematics at the Center for American History actively collects oral history material and makes it available to our patrons. We have audiocassettes and videotapes containing interviews with a wide variety of mathematicians and mathematical educators. In many cases we also have full-text transcriptions of the interviews as well as supporting biographical material, making the oral histories an even more valuable resource.

Conducting high-quality interviews is a skill that can be mastered by anyone, and you may find that undertaking an interview with a friend or colleague is as rewarding an experience for you as it is for them.

As in many topics, the Internet has a great number of sources that can help guide you in conducting an oral history interview. Some particularly helpful websites include:

Archival Leaflet Series, Doing Oral History, by L. Dale Patterson, Archivist, The General Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church (http://www.gcah.org/oral.html): This site provides an overview of best practices as well as a list of concrete tips that will make the interview process go more smoothly.

"One Minute Guide to Oral History", by Carole Hicke, The Bancroft Library Regional Oral History Office, UC Berkeley (http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/ROHO/resources/1minute.html): The name says it all! This is a nice concise guide on the basics of oral history creation.

Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet, Oral History and Interviews (http://www.cyndislist.com/oral.htm): An extensive collection of oral history links if it is available online, it is probably listed here.

If you are interested in conducting an oral history interview, or if you would like to use our existing oral histories in your research, please contact the archivist at the information below.

Online inventories for collections in the Archives of American Mathematics that contain oral history material include:

R. H. Bing Interviews: http://www. lib.utexas.edu/taro/utcah/00306/cah-00306.html
Melvin Henriksen Oral History Collection: http://www. lib.utexas.edu/taro/utcah/00496/cah-00496.html
R. L. Moore Legacy Collection: http://www. lib.utexas.edu/taro/utcah/00310/cah-00310.html
Mathematical Association of America Records, Committees Section
(Leon Henkin interview):
http://www. lib.utexas.edu/taro/utcah/00476/cah-00476.html
NCTM Oral History Project Records: http://www. lib.utexas.edu/taro/utcah/00319/cah-00319.html
Albert W. Tucker Papers: http://www. lib.utexas.edu/taro/utcah/00301/cah-00301.html

The Archives of American Mathematics is located at the Research and Collections division of the Center for American History on the University of Texas at Austin campus. Persons interested in conducting research or donating materials or who have general questions about the Archives of American Mathematics should contact the archivist, Kristy Sorensen, at k.sorensen@mail.utexas.edu, or by phone at (512) 495-4539.

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