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May 11 | One-Day Oral History Training Workshops with OHMA

  • Knox Hall Columbia University New York, New York 10027 (map)

Join us for an intensive day of workshops with OHMA faculty and alumni! Register now as these usually sell out fast!

Location: Columbia University, Knox Hall

Registration: $30 - 100 per half-day workshop, sliding scale. Full day video workshop sliding scale from $100-$200. Register here!

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.

Prospective Students: OHMA offers an application fee waiver for all attendees of our 2019 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.

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.

For more information, please email Anne Cardenas at


ALL DAY, 9:30AM - 5PM

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Video Production for Visual Storytelling and Oral History, Oscar Frasser

(Limited to 12 participants. Three sliding scale ticket prices - $100, $150, and $200)

This intensive day-long workshop is designed to give participants a jumpstart into using video production for visual storytelling and oral history projects.  This workshop will review camera basics; practice using camera techniques, controls and optics; explore composition, form and basic color theory; incorporate theories of cinematic language to emphasize mood and perception; and cover basic lighting techniques for the interview in a hands-on practical experience that will strengthen participants’ camera, cinematography and storytelling skills.

Oscar Frasser is a professional image-maker and storyteller with a focus on human rights and Latin American issues. With over 20 years of experience as a filmmaker, cinematographer and photographer, Oscar has worked extensively in the areas of documentary filmmaking, photojournalism, media education and advertising. Oscar has been a business owner of a bi-lingual advertising agency in New York City; lectured and taught in several universities in New York and abroad including Columbia University, NYU, The New School, and the Jose Marti International Institute of Journalism in Cuba.  Oscar teaches as an Adjunct Professor of Filmmaking­ at The New School and works in video and photography for the Associated Press at the United Nations and a variety of Latin American publications.  He holds an MA in Media Studies and Documentary from The New School and a BFA in Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. Oscar teaches video production for OHMA.

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


Introduction to Audio Editing with Hindenburg, Michael Garofalo

In this workshop you'll learn the fundamentals of digital audio editing using Hindenberg, a popular software used by many radio and podcast producers. If you've never edited audio before, this is a great program to learn on because it's stripped down to the essentials and highly intuitive. By the end of the session you will be able to read a waveform, make cuts, rearrange content, add music, and create an mp3 file to share. Everyone is welcome -- from true beginners to those with previous editing experience. The workshop doesn't teach aesthetics, but focuses on the mechanics of editing and provides a proven workflow for managing hours of tape. Whether you want to launch a podcast or just share a moment from an interview via email, this workshop will give you the skills to get started. 

NOTE: You'll need a laptop and headphones for this workshop. Workshop attendees should purchase and install Hindenburg or download a trial version prior to the session. 

Michael Garofalo started his career at StoryCorps, where he spent nearly 15 years producing and editing a weekly series on NPR, launching and hosting the StoryCorps podcast, and earning 2 Peabody Awards and a Columbia-DuPont Award along the way. In 2018, he went independent and is currently developing a show about human/animal relationships, as well as serving as the first ever Editorial Audio Fellow at Kickstarter, helping to launch and produce season one of Just The Beginning. He's also an experimental musician incorporating field recordings, found sounds, and narrative into his composition. He teaches audio editing to OHMA students.


Introduction to Oral History Interviewing, Fanny Julissa García 

What makes an oral history interview? What’s the difference between a journalistic interview and an oral history interview? What questions to ask and how? In this workshop, participants will learn the basic principles of oral history interviewing and how to create a space in which a person will feel comfortable enough to engage with interview questions. We’ll also learn about question trees – crucial tools for a dialogic exchange that is reflective, fluid and improvisational. Most importantly, participants will have the opportunity to conduct in-class interviews that will be used as case-studies to explore the importance of open-ended questions and how and when to ask follow-up questions. At the end of this workshop, participants will have a new-found knowledge of the intentionality in oral history interviewing and how to craft questions that will elicit fruitful responses.

Fanny Julissa García is an oral historian contributing work to Central American Studies. In her most recent work, Reminiscences on Migration: A Central American Lyric, she intertwines her own migration story using lyric poetry and vignettes with oral history interviews conducted with Central American refugee women who had been released from detention centers at the U.S./Mexico border. She has worked for more than 15 years as a social justice advocate to combat the public health and socioeconomic impact of HIV/AIDS on low income communities, worked closely with organizations fighting for the end of family detention, and supported survivors of sexual violence. She serves as the Communications Coordinator for Groundswell: Oral History for Social Change, a network of oral historians, activists, cultural workers, community organizers and documentary artists that use oral history to further movement building and transformative social change. She also works at the New-York Historical Society, and is co-founder of Social Exchange Institute, a media and education company that uses multi-media tools to produce work that promotes social justice and equity. She’s also on the editorial board for the Oral History Association’s Oral History Review. In 2017, she graduated from the Oral History Master of Arts program from Columbia University where she received the Judge Jack B. Weinstein Scholarship Award for Oral History and the OHMA Oral History Teaching and Social Justice Award.

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Considering Identity in Oral History: Interviewing Across Difference, Mary Marshall Clark and Alissa Funderburk

In this workshop we will explore useful concepts in oral history that help to bring us closer to our narrators, and to determine, where appropriate the differences that exist between us and how to work with those differences in the interview.  We will attempt to define the relationship between the core concepts in oral history:  intersectionality and intersubjectivity (the dialogue between the interviewer and the narrator).  We will demonstrate models of intersectional interviewing where identities either create intersectional distance or open dialogues of shared experience.  We encourage participants to send us examples of how these issues come up in their own work. 

Mary Marshall Clark is the director of the Columbia Center for Oral History Research (CCOHR). Mary Marshall is also the co-founder 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

Alissa Rae Funderburk is Deputy Director and a lead interviewer for the CU Life Histories Project, an oral history project with the aim of building a lasting university wide program to utilize life history interviews in tackling issues of disavowal and inequity on campus. Alissa Rae graduated from Columbia in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology as a John W. Kluge Scholar. Her interests included the studies of race, culture and religion, particularly those of the diaspora. In 2013, Alissa Rae began working with Hope Church NYC as the director of kids programming and as an assistant at York Prep School. She is in her last semester of OHMA, creating a thesis about the religious and spiritual experiences of black men in New York City. 


Oral History 101, Amy Starecheski 

What is oral history, and what is it good for? In a storytelling-obsessed era, what does oral history offer to researchers, artists, students, organizers, journalists, and teachers? In this Oral History 101 workshop, participants will be introduced to the basics of oral history practice -- planning a project and conducting an interview – and will explore how tools from the oral historian’s toolkit can be useful to their practice.

Amy Starecheski is a cultural anthropologist and oral historian whose research focuses on the use of oral history in social movements and the politics of history, value, and property in cities. She is the Director of 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. She was a lead interviewer on Columbia’s September 11, 2001 Narrative and Memory Project, for which she interviewed Afghans, Muslims, Sikhs, activists, low-income people, and people who lost work.  Starecheski was a member of the Core Working Group for Groundswell: Oral History for Social Change from 2011-2018, where she facilitated the Practitioner Support Network. In 2015 she won the Oral History Association’s article award for “Squatting History: The Power of Oral History as a History-Making Practice” and in 2016 she was awarded the Sapiens-Allegra “Will the Next Margaret Mead Please Stand Up?” prize for public anthropological writing. She received a PhD in cultural anthropology from the CUNY Graduate Center, where she was a Public Humanities Fellow. Her book, Ours to Lose: When Squatters Became Homeowners in New York City, was published in 2016 by the University of Chicago Press. She is the founder of the Mott Haven Oral History Project, which collaboratively documents, activates, and amplifies the stories of her longtime neighborhood, as told by the people who live there.  

Afternoon Workshops: 2PM-5PM


Interviewing Immersion, Sara Sinclair

In this workshop we will steep ourselves in the oral history interview form. The session will begin with an overview of oral history interviewing values and methodology. We will then consider some of the key questions we must ask of ourselves, to prepare for the questioning of our narrators. Finally, we will listen to, read and discuss interview excerpts and close the session with an opportunity to practice interviewing in the space. 

Sara Sinclair is an oral historian of Cree-Ojibwa, German-Jewish and British descent. A graduate of Columbia University’s Oral History Master of Arts program, Sara was the project manager and lead interviewer for Columbia Center for Oral History Research’s Robert Rauschenberg Oral History Project. With Peter Bearman and Mary Marshall Clark, Sinclair edited a book from these narratives, which will be published by Columbia University Press in spring 2019. Prior to attending OHMA, Sara lived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she conducted an oral history project for the International Labour Organization’s Regional Office for Africa. Sara’s work as an oral history consultant includes work for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the Exit Art Closure Study, a research project on the closure of New York gallery/artist’s space Exit Art (1982-2012). For Sara’s thesis at Columbia she conducted a series of interviews exploring the narratives of university-educated, reservation-raised Native North Americans on returning to their Nations after school. Sara expanded this project, How We Go Home, through Voice of Witness’ Story Lab and is currently editing a forthcoming book with the organization.


Navigating Ethics, Trauma, and Risk in Oral History, Zoë West

As oral history projects increasingly focus on oppression, conflict and crisis, our toolkits should be equipped with the practices to adequately confront ethical dilemmas, trauma, and risk. This workshop is for oral historians, activists and journalists who are interested in digging into the question of how to effectively and ethically using oral history methods for documenting difficult stories.

During this workshop, we’ll explore how to be conscious of and responsive to ethical issues that are present in different stages of an oral history project — including power dynamics, accountability, political context, activist aims, and security risks. We will then focus on questions of trauma — preparing for and responding to trauma before, during and after interviews; considering interviewer wellbeing; and thinking through questions of resilience, repair and healing. We will approach all of these themes and questions through participatory activities and exploring case studies.

You’re encouraged to bring to this workshop your own ideas for a future project, or if you’re working on one now, your thoughts on the process. You will leave this training with some guidelines for thinking through ethical questions and power in oral history projects, and practices for trauma-informed interviewing.

Zoë West is an anthropologist and oral historian whose work centers on labor, migration, and human rights. She teaches a course on Oral History and Human Rights for OHMA. Her current research explores the promises and challenges of alternative labor organizing models for marginalized workers. Zoë positions herself at the intersection of grassroots and academic work, rooted in the commitment to helping social movements use research and documentation to fuel and strengthen their work. In this vein, she also works actively in teaching and training, and supporting groups in building power through creative strategy, deeper internal processes, and organizing across movements and identities. As a founding member of Rhiza Collective, Zoë develops frameworks for implementing collaborative research, transformative leadership development, narrative and healing work, and political education. She edited and compiled the oral history collection Nowhere to Be Home: Narratives from Survivors of Burma’s Military Regime (McSweeney’s/Voice of Witness, 2011), which was then published in Burmese (NDSP Books, 2016). Zoë received her PhD in social anthropology from the University of Oxford. 


Oral History and Social Justice: Towards a Participatory Oral History Research Approach, Lynn Lewis

Oral History is an important intervention in social science research that has resulted in a paradigm shift regarding who is a legitimate source of knowledge.  Oral History research lends itself to social justice work due to the relationship between interviewer and narrator as partners in the production of knowledge.    

Participatory Oral History Research (POHR) is an approach to oral history that extends the collaborative nature of the relationship beyond the interview and approval of transcripts throughout every phase of the oral history research process.

Combining elements of oral history, participatory action research and community organizing, POHR draws upon these three approaches to knowledge production in the service of collective liberation.  Through concrete examples, a review of the theoretical foundations of POHR and hands on exercises, participants will enhance their skills in the design and development of an oral history research project from a social justice perspective.  Among the topics covered will be collaboration and shared authority, beneficiaries of oral history research, structuring an oral history project, meaning, interview techniques, latent and explicit content, and power and privilege from concept to roll out.

The instructor will draw upon lessons and challenges from her current project, The Picture the Homeless Oral History Project, and invites attendees to workshop aspects of their own projects during this session.

Lynn Lewis is a graduate of the OHMA Program and a long time community organizer and social justice worker. She is interested in the potential for oral history research to support the work of grass roots organizations to win social justice. Her current research is an oral history of Picture the Homeless, a homeless led organization where she worked for 17 years. She is a founding board member of the E Harlem/El Barrio Community Land Trust and sat on the board of the Cooper Square Community Land Trust. Lynn works in NYC as a consultant and trainer to grass roots organizations.


Oral History as Spontaneous Literature: Writing the Life History, Nyssa Chow

 This workshop is for those interested in writing narrative nonfiction from Oral Histories. We will look at the oral history as an act of spontaneous literature - one that contains both the individual story, and the larger history. How do we design a narrative frame that will contain a life history? We will explore this question through in-class writing, listening exercises and the close reading of examples from literature.

Nyssa Chow is a writer, new media storyteller, and educator. She is a core faculty in the Columbia University Oral History Masters Program, and the current Writer-in-Residence at Fordham University. She is the 2018 Recipient of the PEN/Jean Stein for Literary Oral History, won for the book project, Still.Life. The project also won the Columbia University Jeffrey H. Brodsky Oral History Award. She is a graduate of the Columbia University’s MFA program, and the Columbia University Oral History Masters program. She will be a 2019-2020 Princeton Arts Fellow.