The Reed Oral History Project is fast approaching its conclusion! Working under the auspices of the alumni board, we have completed 250 interviews with alumni from the 1920s through the 1970s, and we aim to collect interviews through the 1990 class year. We are also engaged in documenting the recollections of former faculty members, trustees and other friends of Reed. This ongoing project aspires to record 300 interviews prior to Reed's 2011 centennial!
The foundation for this oral history lays in the wealth of alumni volunteers who have made this project possible. Their enthusiasm and impressive variety of skills are evident in the energy with which they have documented Reed's past. Volunteer interviewers are trained in oral history techniques and conduct at least two interviews per year. Interview tapes are professionally transcribed, and are jointly edited by the narrator and the interviewer. Each June at Reunions, we gratefully honor the narrators and present the completed transcripts to President Colin Diver. Completed transcripts are posted on the oral history website for research and training purposes, and are permanently housed in the Reed archives in Hauser Library. These rich stories will provide fodder for our centennial celebrations and will serve as primary source material for a book that combines historical materials with the voices of Reed to create a compelling picture of the "Reed experience."
Interviewing is currently under way in the New England, Washington, D.C., San Francisco Bay, Portland, Chicago, and Rainier chapters, as well as in selected non-chapter areas, such as New York and New England. Narrators sometimes live in small towns, like Yah-Tay-Hey, New Mexico, Damariscotta, Maine, and Cornebarrieu, France. They also live in metropolitan areas, like New York City, Seattle, Portland, and the District of Columbia. Interviewers are also widely scattered geographically and chronologically. Some return regularly to Reed, while others have not seen the campus since they graduated. All have passionate, humorous, quirky, and sometimes poignant stories to tell about their years at Reed.
We are eager to recruit and train new interviewers, especially those with an interest in the 1970s-1980s time period at Reed. We also need assistance with the final reading of transcripts, background research, content descriptions, and updating our historical timeline. If you would like to help with the project--even if you have just a few hours a month to contribute--we will help you find an entertaining and meaningful role. You will also find the opportunity to reconnect with Reed and develop interesting multi-generational friendships with other alumni.
Please send us your suggestions regarding who should be interviewed from class years in the 1970s and 1980s, including yourself! The collection, preservation, and dissemination of Reed stories are gifts that only alumni can give to Reed College.