University of Nevada Oral History Program


Reviewed by Julie Ullman

The University of Nevada Oral History Project website is simple in design, yet rich in content. The site does not use fancy graphics or animation. It has a simple, well-laid out homepage with links to the major areas of the site. Established in 1965, The Oral History Project’s mission “is to produce primary source oral histories that have enduring value as documentation of the history and culture of Nevada and the American West.”

Over 70,000 pages of transcripts from persons who have provided their first-hand knowledge of historical events in Nevada are housed in the UNOHP archives thanks to the work of the University and this Project. Complete sets are housed at both the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Nevada, Reno libraries. The site provides a page of biographies for the staff of the UNOHP as well as contact information. The oral histories have been recorded through systematic interviews and many of the tapes and transcripts are available to purchase, view and research. The Oral History Project periodically publishes selected oral histories and these books are available for purchase and at public and University libraries.

Site links include:

Annotated Collection Catalog, including a useful Topical Guide, and the Master Index. The Master index lists all of the oral histories. It is a large PDF file and takes a long time to load, but the Topical Guide is very useful for searching by subject. Some subject heading examples are “Smithing”, “Mining”, and “Indians”. Researchers and others interested in these oral histories can search the Catalog for relevant entries. Copies of the desired transcripts can be accessed at either University of Nevada libraries or purchased from the UNOHP.

Most of the catalog is not hyper-linked to the actual oral history, but some of the newer books in the catalog include a link to a synopsis of the book.

Another link is Ethnographers Among the Washoe Project. This project included audio and videotapes that document the Washoe Indian Tribe life in Nevada and California.

There are links to the UNOHP Online Newsletter, News Stories and Archives of News about the UNOHP and a link on how to become a Friend of the UNOHP.

One very interesting project can be viewed under the link Selected Rodeo Transcripts. This project explores the history and impact of Rodeo in Nevada through first-person accounts. Transcripts from selected interviews are available here.

There are no fees to access the site although it does offer it’s books and videos for sale. Through Inter-Library Loan, most researchers can access these transcripts, videos, books and audios for very little cost. Overall, the site is quiet, but interesting. It is good to know that such a project exists in Nevada and that there is a high standard for the quality of the research, interviewing and publishing of this important information.