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Oral history and audio collection

Identifier: L640

Scope and Contents

This collection comprises the breadth of the oral history collection at the Indiana State Library, ranging from circa 1904 to 2019. The bulk of the collection contains oral histories created during the ISL Oral History Project during the 1960s-1980s and recordings of events, meetings, recitations, and radio interviews created and acquired by library staff during that period. The remainder are oral histories created by various outside institutions and organizations, such as universities, public libraries, state agencies, and clubs and societies.

Each individual oral history collection has its own identifier (OH#) and associated finding aid containing more in-depth information about specific projects and the subjects of interviews and other recordings. Please see specific OH finding aids for more information.

The notation "shared tape" indicates that a physical audio tape contains more than one interview from different interviewees during separate interviews.

The first series, Indiana State Library oral histories (1916-1989), includes the interviews conducted as purt of the Indiana State Library Oral History Project, as well as oral histories created by various individuals who donated them to become part of the growing oral history collection, which were not part of a formal oral history project. They generally comprise transcripts, audiovisual materials, and other materials. Usually the intellectual rights are owned with the repository.

The second series comprises oral histories from outside organizations and institutions, which are mainly transcripts with a some audiotapes, ranging from 1955 to 2019, from specific oral history projects. The home institutions or organizations generally hold the intellectual property rights, though they may also rest with the interviewees.

The third and final series contains miscellaneous audio recordings on various audiovisual tapes and occasioanlly accompanied by additional materials and transcripts, ranging from circa 1904 to 1994


  • circa 1904-2019


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research. Restrictions may apply to specific oral histories. Contact the repository for more information.

The audio recordings of many oral histories are currently inaccessible due to their format. Please contact the repository for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights for a large number of the oral histories reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

In other cases, Literary rights, including copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their legal heirs and assigns. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts. The publisher must also obtain permission of the copyright holder. Contact the repository for more information.

Historical Note

The Indiana State Library Oral History Project began in 1968 and ended in 1982. During that period, field agents working for the library travelled around the state doing outreach, procuring donations to the collection, and conducting oral history interviews with individual Hoosiers. Field agents from the time included F. Gerald "Jerry" Handfield, Tom Krasean, Randall W. Jehs, and Susan I. Bell.


40.3 Cubic Feet (121 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials



Arranged in the following series:

Series 1: Indiana State Library oral histories, 1916-1989

Series 2: Outside institutions and organizations oral histories, 1955-2019

Subseries 2.1: Indianapolis Public Library, Hilton U. Brown Branch oral histories, 1978-1987

Subseries 2.2: Gary Public Library oral histories, 1956-1970, undated

Subseries 2.3: James Whitcomb Riley Boyhood Home oral histories, 1987

Subseries 2.4: Wabash Carnegie Public Library oral histories, 1971-1986

Subseries 2.5: World War II history student oral histories, 1990

Subseries 2.6: Vincennes University oral histories, 1972-1973

Subseries 2.7: Church of Latter Day Saints oral histories, 1977-1981

Subseries 2.8: Howard Steamboat Museum oral histories, 1986-1990

Subseries 2.9: League of Women Voters of Indianapolis oral histories, 1995

Subseries 2.10: Montezuma Middle School oral histories, 1991-1992

Subseries 2.11: Rushville Junior Historical Society oral histories, 1972-1980

Subseries 2.12: Miscellaneous institutions oral histories, 1974-2019

Series 3: Miscellaneous recordings, circa 1904-1994

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as part of the ISL Oral History Project during the 1960s-1980s and donations from various individuals and outside institutions during the 1950s-2010s. More information can often be found in specific OH finding aids.


The repository continues to add materials to this collection on a regular basis.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions of (materials digitized) of many oral histories are available electronically in the Oral History Collection of the Indiana State Library Digital Collections:

More oral histories have been digitized but are not available online in the digital collections due to copyright. Please contact the repository for more information.

Processing Information

Collection originally organized during the ISL Oral Hisotry Project in the 1960s-1980s. The collection reprocessing completed 2020/10/10 by Brittany Kropf. EAD finding aid created 2020/10/22 by Brittany Kropf.
Oral history and audio collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.