Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Oral Histories at the Penn Libraries
You can find oral history resources available at the Penn Libraries through the Franklin catalog. Do an advanced search for oral history as a subject combined with topics or geographic areas of interest as keywords to find materials. Our holdings consist primarily of published collections of oral history and works related to theory and method.
Freedman Jewish Sound Archive
Freedman Jewish Sound Archive
"Located in Penn's Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, Room 453, this musical research library, international, and multi-lingual in scope, is a collection of approximately 5,300 Judaic sound recordings, in various formats (78, 45 and 33rpm, reel to reel and cassette tapes, compact discs, videos and DVDs)." You can listen to a small sample of recordings online.
Oral Histories & Audio Archives beyond Penn
Search collection descriptions from thousands of museums, archives, and libraries. For the most part, these collections are not available online.
This research guide is intended to connect students with audio archive resources, primarily those available online. Unless otherwise noted, these resources are freely available to access. This guide is intended to represent a selection of available resources and is not comprehensive.
Barraud, F. (1895). Dog looking at and listening to a phonograph. [Digital image]. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:OriginalNipper.jpg
Online Archives (Audio)
American Memory from the Library of Congress
Collections on early recording, folk music and culture, slave narratives, vaudeville, wartime interviews, and more. Most collections are multi-format but have an audio page or an option to filter for sound records. You can also search by subject or keyword within one or more collections.
British Library Sounds
"Listen to a selection from the British Library’s extensive collections of unique sound recordings, which come from all over the world and cover the entire range of recorded sound: music, drama and literature, oral history, wildlife and environmental sounds."
Oral histories of the Great Migration, recorded in the 1980s.
Designed as an expansive repository of aural resources, the purpose of Historical Voices is to create a significant, fully searchable online database of spoken word collections spanning the 20th century - the first large-scale repository of its kind.
Maria Rogers Oral History Program (Boulder Public Library)
Audio files and transcripts are available for some interviews, with new material being added.
Music Online: American Song [PennKey required]
"[I]ncludes songs by and about American Indians, miners, immigrants, slaves, children, pioneers and cowboys. Included in the database are the songs of Civil Rights, political campaigns, Prohibition, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, anti-war protests and more."
Talks on and readings of poetry and literature from the Kelly Writers' House.
Pittsburgh and Beyond: The Experience of the Jewish Community
516 interviews conducted between 1968 and 2001, indexed by interviewee name, geographic locations, and subjects.
Smithsonian Global Sound [PennKey required]
Smithsonian Folkways recordings: includes a wide range of musical genres and spoken word, including oral histories, from around the world.
An open source archive of sounds from around the world
A selection of interviews, including some organized by theme.
Online Archives (Audiovisual)
Online Archives (Transcripts)
The Vitale Digital Media Lab lends
- Audio recorders and microphones
- Digital SLR cameras
- Chargers for cellphones and Mac laptops
- Projectors and screens
- Computer cables and adapters
for up to 3 days at a time to PennCard holders.
Oral History Project Directories