MTSU Welcomes " Oral History Association"
Tuesday, September 26, 2017 5:48 pm
One of the nation's most prestigious and respected groups of historians will be housed at MTSU for at least for the next five years.
In its 51st year, the Oral History Association has chosen MTSU for its headquarters and its co-chairs will be Louis Kyriakoudes, director of the university's Albert Gore Research Center, and history professor Kris McCusker.
"It's the leading organization for people who engage in the creation of extended oral history narratives with people," Kyriakoudes said.
The organization boasts a diverse membership of scholars, activists, journalists, psychologists, folklorists and others interested in bringing the historical experiences of both everyday people and elites to light.
"This will ... advance MTSU's research, public engagement and public outreach, both to scholarly and professional environments but also to the general public," said Kyriakoudes.
Following the unexpected passing last year of association Executive Director Clifford Kuhn of Georgia State University, the group issued a call for proposals for the location of the headquarters.
Kyriakoudes and McCusker wrote the proposal for MTSU with an emphasis on collaboration with many on-campus partners, including the Gore Center, the history department, the public history graduate program, the Center for Historic Preservation, the Center for Popular Music and the College of Liberal Arts.
"With key supporting, internal partners that work in historic preservation, archival management, cultural resource management, museum management, history and music, the MTSU team represents many of the core constituents within OHA's active membership," said Dan Kerr, director of the public history program at American University in Washington, D.C., and chair of the OHA search committee.
As an example of oral history, Kyriakoudes cited an interview he conducted with a former resident of the now-defunct Old Jefferson community, which was eliminated so that the Tennessee Valley Authority could build a dam on Percy Priest Lake.
"Oral historians really do practice history from the bottom up," Kyriakoudes said. "We want to preserve the stories of a variety of individuals to capture the full spectrum of the human experience."
The discipline was popularized greatly in the 20th century by Chicago-based author Studs Terkel, who published oral histories around various themes, including working, war, race, jazz, the Great Depression, movies and religion.
McCusker will move her office to the second floor of MTSU's Peck Hall, where the OHA administrative offices will be housed, while Kyriakoudes will remain based at the Gore Center.
"The Oral History Association's executive offices are going to help MTSU's history department (and especially public history graduate program) publicize in substantial ways the exciting work that is going on here and the terrific students we are producing," McCusker said.