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Jan. 28: One-Day Oral History Training Workshops with OHMA

  • School of Journalism Columbia University New York, New York 10027 (map)

Join us for an intensive day of workshops with OHMA faculty and alumni!

Registration is now open for our ONE-DAY ORAL HISTORY TRAINING WORKSHOPS on Saturday, January 28, 2017, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Location: Columbia School of Journalism [Campus map.] Room assignments vary by workshop and will be announced to registrants shortly.

Registration: $30 - 100 per workshop, sliding scale

For our oral history workshops, please pay what you can. We suggest $30 for students, recent graduates, or others who are financially constrained, while we suggest that professionals and those with more resources should pay more.

All profits from these events go towards our annual merit scholarship for an incoming OHMA student.

Schedule at a Glance: Click on the links below to register or review full course descriptions and faculty bios.



Prospective Students: OHMA will be offering an application fee waiver for all attendees of our 2017 One-Day Oral History Training Workshops! Please email us at once you've submitted your application so that we can send the waiver to Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

We will also be hosting our annual Spring Open House that very same week on the evening of Thursday, January 26, 2017! If you are interested in applying to OHMA and would like to meet with our directors or sit in on a class while you're in town for either event, please write us to schedule your visit.

Sponsors: OHMA's One-Day Oral History Training Workshops are part of the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Lecture Series, co-sponsored by the Columbia Center for Oral History Research (CCOHR) and the Oral History Master of Arts Program (OHMA).

Support from the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics (INCITE) is provided for programming that embodies late Professor Paul Lazarsfeld’s commitment to improving methodological approaches that address concerns of vital cultural and social significance.

This event is also graciously co-sponsored by the Columbia School of Journalism. For more information, please email Amy Starecheski, Co-Director of OHMA, at

We look forward to welcoming you to campus next month!


Morning Workshops, 9:30AM-12:30PM

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Oral History and Research, Mary Marshall Clark

Oral history is a form of biographical, social, economic, political and cultural research – contributing to an understanding of the many ways in which the past influences our thinking about the present and the future. This workshop will focus on ways in which oral history as a form of interdisciplinary research can contribute new knowledge and the development of unique primary sources.  Practical aspects of the workshop will include thinking about how to design oral history research projects, and how to read and analyze narrative sources.

Mary Marshall Clark is the director of the Columbia Center for Oral History Research (CCOHR). Mary Marshall is also the co-founder and co-director of Columbia’s Oral History Master of Arts degree program. Mary Marshall has been involved in the oral history movement since 1991, and was president of the Oral History Association in 2001-2002. She was a founding member of the International Oral History Association.

Mary Marshall teaches and writes on issues of memory, the mass media, trauma, and ethics in oral history. She was the co-principal investigator, with Peter Bearman, of the September 11, 2001 Oral History Narrative and Memory Project, and directed related projects on the aftermath of September 11th in New York City.  Mary Marshall’s current work focuses on the global impact of U.S. torture and detention policies, focusing on Guantánamo.  Mary Marshall is an editor of After the Fall: New Yorkers Remember September 11, 2001 and the Years that Followed, published by The New Press in September 2011. 

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Oral History 101, for Educators, Amy Starecheski 

In this Oral History 101 workshop, participants will be introduced to the basics of oral history practice: planning a project and conducting an interview. This workshop is open to anyone interested in exploring an introduction to oral history practice, with a focus on bringing oral history to educational spaces.

Oral history can be a powerful tool in the classroom, transforming students into engaged researchers from the elementary grades through graduate school. Participants will be guided through the process of designing and executing an oral history project, and thinking through how to use oral history to meet their teaching or other goals.

This workshop is open to all, including educators working in formal and informal setting, with any age group, and across the disciplines.

Amy Starecheski is a cultural anthropologist and oral historian whose research focuses on property and history in cities. She co-directs the Oral History MA Program at Columbia University. She consults and lectures widely on oral history education and methods, and is co-author of the Telling Lives Oral History Curriculum Guide. Amy has a PhD in cultural anthropology from the CUNY Graduate Center. Her book, Ours to Lose: When Squatters Became Homeowners in New York City, came out in 2016 with the University of Chicago Press. In 2016 she won the SAPIENS-Allegra “Will the Next Margaret Mead Please Stand Up?” prize for public anthropology writing.


Introduction to Oral History for Writers, Gerry Albarelli

Oral history reminds us that people are natural storytellers. The oral history interview also gives writers unusual access—to the past; to stories they may not have heard otherwise; to important stories in danger of being lost forever; to the liveliness of speech; to small worlds within our larger world.  The oral history interview also poses a particular—and particularly interesting—challenge to writers:  What do we do with multiple perspectives on a single event?  How do we confront the mystery of what, if anything, actually happened?

Participants will be introduced to interviewing techniques that tend to lead to rich, anecdotal testimony. This workshop will be structured around two questions: How does one earn the right to hear the important story? Having heard the story, how does a writer earn the right to re-tell it? 

Gerry Albarelli is author of Teacha! Stories from a Yeshiva (Glad Day Books, 2001), chronicling his experience as a non-Jew teaching English as a second language to Yiddish-speaking Hasidic boys at a yeshiva in Brooklyn. He has published essays, poems and stories in numerous anthologies and reviews, includingAcoma, The Penguin Book of Gay Short Stories, Global City Review, The Breast, and Fairleigh Dickinson Review. Albarelli is on the faculty of the Columbia University Oral History Master of Arts program.

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Push Play: A Workshop on Imagination and the Interview: Liza Zapol and Nicki Pombier Berger

This hands-on workshop explores the practice of oral history as art. How can we deepen our understanding of memory, prompts, and the interview by engaging other artistic disciplines, such as theatre and performance art? How can we re-imagine the site of the interview itself as art? What can we learn from projects that make artful use of oral history, as source material and as integral to their process? In this workshop, participants will experiment through play: engaging theatrical memory exercises, embodying explorations of the past, improvising and creating scenes. We will discuss our own practices as part of a larger conversation about oral history and creativity. This workshop is open to anyone interested in drawing on creativity and play to inspire, enliven and amplify oral history-based work. 

Liza Zapol is an artist and an oral historian. She creates sound, multimedia and performance on the themes of memory and place, using documentary methods. Liza leads the oral history project at Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. Liza also works with the Whitney Museum of American Art, where she has conducted interviews and historic research about the Meatpacking District. She teaches Oral History Methods at the New School for Drama. Liza has a MA in Oral History from Columbia University. She trained as an actor at Northwestern University, specialized in physical theater at the London International School of Performing Arts, and earned a certificate from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Liza collaborates with Director Julie Kline to create dynamic oral history based theater in senior centers in New York. Other theater and dance collaborations include an artist’s residency with iLAND, creating interview-based installations with True Body Project NYC, collaborating with Elevator Repair Service, and co-founding the Combustibles, a physical theater company. She has lectured and consulted widely to create oral history projects, live performance events, and audio materials for museums and cultural institutions.

Nicki Pombier Berger is an oral historian, educator, and interdisciplinary artist. She is part-time faculty member at The New School for Drama and has taught oral history workshops in a wide range of contexts. As oral historian, she works on arts-based community engagement projects, such as A Fierce Kind of Love at Temple University's Institute on Disabilities, where she trained volunteers to interview narrators with intellectual disabilities, and edited content for a multimedia exhibits in Pennsylvania’s State Capitol and Philadelphia’s City Hall.

Previously, she designed and produced the TILL Living Legacy Project, an oral history-based professional development film that won the 2015 Innovation Award from the Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers. In 2013, she produced an online multimedia collection of stories from self-advocates with Down syndrome. From 2010-2013, she led several community engagement efforts at the national nonprofit StoryCorps. 

As Founding Editor of Underwater New York, she publishes art, music and writing on the waterways of New York City, and is co-editor of the book, Silent Beaches, Untold Stories: New York City's Forgotten Waterfront (Damiani). Nicki has an MA in Oral History (Columbia University), an MFA in Writing (Sarah Lawrence College), and a BS in the Foreign Service (Georgetown University).


Introduction to Oral History for Organizers, Amaka Okechukwu

Oral History can be a powerful tool in building social movements and enhancing social justice projects. This workshop will introduce community organizers to oral history methods, focusing on the ways that oral history can be used to enhance organizational capacity, how storytelling can be utilized in campaigns, and more. We will examine formal oral history methods, social justice oral history and ethical concerns, and explore how anti-oppression principles can be incorporated into activist oral history projects. 

Amaka Okechukwu, Ph.D. is an interdisciplinary scholar of race, social movements, and the Black experience. She currently serves in a variety of roles in and outside of the academy. She is the Project Coordinator of the Voices of Crown Heights oral history project at Brooklyn Historical Society, and is the former Oral Historian at Weeksville Heritage Center. She serves as Co-Coordinator of Groundswell: Oral History for Social Change, a grassroots network of oral historians, activists, and cultural workers who use oral history methods in social justice projects.

She is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Center for Advanced Social Science Research at New York University, where she is finishing her book To Fulfill These Rights: Political Contention over Affirmative Action in Public Universities (under contract with Columbia University Press). She has engaged in community-based work with Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Brooklyn Movement Center, The Brecht Forum, the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, Visionary Organizing Lab, and a number of artist collectives.

Afternoon Workshops: 2PM-5PM

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Oral History and Multimedia Storytelling, Nyssa Chow

Are you interested in taking a multimedia approach to creating oral history-based narratives? This workshop explores how we might draw on the strengths of different mediums to create an immersive storytelling experience. We will discuss approaches to finding the narrative in your longform oral history interviews. Participants will learn how to use the principles of audio storytelling and visual language to not just tell, but also evoke the experience of another. This workshop is for writers, oral historians or anyone interested in using this layered approach to storytelling in their public facing work.

Nyssa Chow (OHMA 2015) is an oral historian and writer, born in Trinidad and an honorary New Yorker. She is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program, and a recipient of the Hollywood Foreign Press Award, Women in Film and Television Fellowship, the Academy of Motion Pictures Foundation Award, and recipient of the Sloan Foundation Grant. She has worked as a photojournalist and editor. She is currently a Center for Teaching and Learning Teaching Fellow in the OHMA program, with a focus on visuality and multimedia storytelling.

Archiving Oral Histories, Sady Sullivan

Archives are where societal memory is preserved for generations to come. Archives can also be hubs for community engagement. In this workshop, we will discuss how to ensure that the interviews you collect today will be available in 5, 25, 150+ years. Participants will learn best practices for storing both born-digital and analog collections; tips and tools for keeping a project organized; why “metadata is a love note to the future”; and what to consider when donating a collection to an archival repository. We will explore examples of oral history archives and open source digital tools for building online archives, and discuss how to ethically consider issues of privacy as well as how critical librarianship brings social justice principles into the work of libraries and archives.

Sady Sullivan is an oral historian with experience building community-engaged oral history projects and revitalizing interest in legacy oral history collections.  She was Curator for the Columbia Center for Oral History Archives at Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library, 2014-2016; and Director of Oral History at Brooklyn Historical Society, 2006-2014.

At Brooklyn Historical Society, Sady created Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations, an award-winning oral history project, racial justice dialogue series, and digital humanities site exploring mixed-heritage identity. Her work is influenced by the Buddhist practice of deep listening, and formative experiences at three feminist institutions: The Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies, Babeland, and Wellesley Centers for Women. 

Oral History and Human Rights Work, Mary Marshall Clark & Anna Di Lellio

Oral history is increasingly used in human rights work to engage in historical dialogues, advocacy and the gathering of testimony in societies engaged in conflict and post-conflict situations. Oral history methodologies can be used by human rights advocates in multiple ways: a) to discover the real, daily life needs of vulnerable people, b) to advocate for social and political change based on that real knowledge; c) to develop ways of engaging, through in-depth interviews, across lines of social and cultural difference; and d), to construct opportunities for critical dialogues based on models of social change that emerge out of oral history stories about the past, the present and visions of the future.

In this workshop we will discuss models of oral historical dialogues in human rights work, breaking down the components of successful transformational practice. Participants are encouraged to bring their own experiences in human rights and oral history work to the workshop.

Mary Marshall Clark is the director of the Columbia Center for Oral History Research (CCOHR). Mary Marshall is also the co-founder and co-director of Columbia’s Oral History Master of Arts degree program. Mary Marshall has been involved in the oral history movement since 1991, and was president of the Oral History Association in 2001-2002. She was a founding member of the International Oral History Association.

Mary Marshall teaches and writes on issues of memory, the mass media, trauma, and ethics in oral history. She was the co-principal investigator, with Peter Bearman, of the September 11, 2001 Oral History Narrative and Memory Project, and directed related projects on the aftermath of September 11th in New York City.  Mary Marshall’s current work focuses on the global impact of U.S. torture and detention policies, focusing on Guantánamo.  Mary Marshall is an editor of After the Fall: New Yorkers Remember September 11, 2001 and the Years that Followed, published by The New Press in September 2011. 

Anna Di Lellio is the co-founder and director of the Kosovo Oral History Initiative. She is a Professor of Politics at the Graduate Programs in International Relations of The New School and New York University. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Columbia University and a Masters in Public Policy from New York University. Her academic publications focus on memory, nationalism and security in Kosovo. She is the producer of the documentary “Thinking of You,” on the making of Alketa Xhafa’s art installation dedicated to survivors of wartime sexual violence. She is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Merits from the President of the Republic of Kosovo for her contribution in the field of freedom of speech.

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Listening as a Creative Catalyst, Fernanda Espinosa

Creative interventions and the use of visual language can be powerful tools in reclaiming meaning and space, and making visible sites of resistance and self-determination. This workshop is meant to get us thinking on using oral histories and, most importantly, the act of listening and interpreting, to shape and inspire creative interventions with an emphasis on cultural organizing and visual art. We will use different examples to understand some of the practices involved in these types of projects and use participatory exercises to engage some of the specific questions generated during the workshop. 

Fernanda Espinosa (OHMA 2015) is based in Brooklyn, New York. She has been generating, listening, and interpreting oral histories to inform creative public interventions that bring visibility to social justice issues and that aspire to act as platforms of resistance and dialogue. Fernanda is a co-founder and Steward of the group People’s Collective Arts//Colectivo de Arte Popular, recipient of the 2015 Rauschenberg Foundation Artists as Activists award. She co-founded Cooperativa Cultural 19 de enero (CC 1/19), an art and oral history collective recipient of The Laundromat Project’s 2015 Create Change commission arts award, and was one of twelve 2016 national Smithsonian Latino Museum Studies fellows.


Oral History & Podcasting/Radio Storytelling, with Molly Graham

Turning oral histories into radio stories or a podcast series means your content can reach broader and more diverse audiences. Interviews are more flexible and versatile if shared in this way. This workshop is an introduction to the basic tools and techniques for creating a podcast. The first part of the workshop covers the technical aspects - basic equipment to get started, and professional sound recording tricks and techniques.  Then we will cover interviewing for live to tape interviews and for creating radio stories.  We will also discuss writing for radio and scripting the podcast, in addition to voicing narration, and editing and sound production. Finally, we will talk about podcast ideas, names, promotion and sponsorship.

Molly Graham is an oral historian, documentary radio producer and archivist with field experience in Massachusetts, Maine and the Midwest. She attended Bates College and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Maine, where she's from. Molly produced an award winning radio documentary called "Besides Life Here," which was licensed by several NPR affiliates. 

She earned her M.A. in Library and Information Science from Simmons College in Boston.  After Simmons, she worked as the oral historian for the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, transitioning the archives into the digital age and doubling the collection of interviews with Wisconsin connected veterans from all over the state.  She is currently the Assistant Director of the Rutgers Oral History Archives and teaches "Introduction to Oral History" as part of the Public History Program at Rutgers University. Additionally, she serves as the Associate Director of Oral History & Folklife Research Inc., a nonprofit based in Maine.