Duquesne University Launches Oral History Initiative for Region, Campus Communities

The Duquesne University Archives and Special Collections at the Gumberg Library has launched a new program designed to create, collect and preserve oral histories of members of the Duquesne and regional communities.

Through the new Oral History Initiative (OHI), lived experiences of participants are recorded, enhancing the historical account by documenting stories that may not be available from traditional sources. The program stems from the success of oral history projects of the Spiritans (the University’s founding order of priests) and Duquesne veterans.

“After the successful creation of the Spiritan (2014) and the Veterans (2016) oral history projects, the library and University administration appreciated oral history as an academic discipline and as a unique resource for interdisciplinary research and scholarship, leading them to establish the Oral History Initiative as Duquesne’s formal oral history program,” explained Megan DeFries, oral historian for the University Archives and Special Collections.

In her role, DeFries manages all aspects of the initiative’s oral history projects, including interviewing and transcription; providing oral history workshops and training; and participating in interdisciplinary projects at Duquesne and in the local community.

The OHI also promotes interdisciplinary scholarship and authentic relationships by sharing oral history outcomes; participating in academic symposia; and offering graduate internships.

“Oral history is important because it helps to fill in the gaps in the historical and archival record,” said Duquesne University Archivist Tom White. “When done properly, it can be used to document not only social and cultural history, but also the stories of people who live on the margins. In that way, this initiative compliments the University’s mission and provides a new way to reach out to the community.”

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim. 

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