Audio and Oral History Archives
The archives contain recordings on a variety of formats including reel tapes, cassettes, phonograph records, and wire recordings. The content of these recordings includes radio broadcasts, music, political speeches, and legislative sessions. There is also a variety of American Indian and folklife recordings within the collections. Most of the audio collections remain unprocessed, but many of the materials may be found in the online catalog.
Selected audio recordings from the OHS Research Center collection are now online. Listen to oral histories, American Indian materials, audio from the Martha Blaine collection, and more.
The oral histories include approximately three thousand recorded interviews pertaining to a wide range of topics. The interviews date from 1956 to the present. Most of the collection dates from the early 1980s to the late 1990s. The most common formats are cassette, VHS, DVD, and digital files. Recordings in this collection range from twenty minutes to eight hours, with the average being one to two hours.
Saturday access to oral histories must be requested by 4 p.m. on Friday. Only select interviews have transcripts; these are available in the online catalog.
The Michael J. Hightower Oral History Collection
This collection includes audio tapes, transcriptions, and notes from the Oklahoma Bank and Commerce History Project. Michael J. Hightower has authored two books on the history of banking in Oklahoma. While researching for the books, he conducted numerous oral histories and has donated these materials to the OHS. Read interview transcripts and find out more.
Todd Family Scholarship
The Todd Family Scholarship is open to high school seniors in Oklahoma who conduct an oral history interview with a veteran. Learn more about the scholarship.
Orders and Fees
The audio research fee is $25. Please include the research fee with your order. Note: research fees do not apply when the accession number is included with the order.
Audio Use Fees
Users must send a use request in writing or email in advance of the release of product for sale or broadcast. Payment for use fees must be made in advance of publication or offer for resale is made. A "permission to use" letter will be processed and sent after fees are received.
A proper credit line is mandatory. Unless otherwise specified, all materials must be credited as follows: name of oral history source (person), or collection name of audio or video, "courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society." Producers shall furnish the OHS Research Division, without charge, one copy of each video/audio in which OHS is indicated as being their source. Use fee payments are due prior to the time of release.
The OHS does not give exclusive rights to any publisher, author, producer or photographer, and assumes no responsibility for duplication of subjects by others and no responsibilities for claims by third parties.
Audio collection coverage is intended to be broad, general, and balanced, providing an extensive range of genres representing history related to Oklahoma. Please contact us before bringing materials to the Research Center. Our staff will need to assess your donation to determine if it is possible to accept the materials.
Contact the Audio and Oral History Archives
- Library of Congress National Jukebox - historical sound recordings online www.loc.gov/jukebox/
- Association for Recorded Sound Collections - a helpful resource for anyone with audio collections www.arsc-audio.org/
- Audio Engineering Society - a useful resource for standards www.aes.org/
- Voices of Oklahoma - features "voices and stories of famous Oklahomans and ordinary citizens." Visitors can listen to numerous interviews on this website. www.voicesofoklahoma.com
- Oklahoma State University - an extensive collection of oral histories. www.library.okstate.edu/oralhistory
- Metropolitan Library System Oklahoma Folklore Collection - includes interviews and audio recordings. cybermarsx.mls.lib.ok.us/folklore/folklore.asp
Do you have your own audio collection? The Oklahoma Historical Society has some tips for preserving these items, including:
- Give your collections a safe environment:
a. Maintain moderate and stable temperatures for all audio formats. Avoid storing in automobiles, attics, bathrooms, laundry rooms or any other location that could cause damage by humidity or heat.
b. Avoid storing collections in direct sunlight or fluorescent lighting; both will cause fading and damage.
- Store your collections in archival enclosures, folders, boxes, and other containers that will extend their life and protect them from dust and pollution.
- Avoid touching the surface of all media if possible. For even better protection, use white cotton gloves when handling.