Columbia Library columns (v.2(1952Nov-1953May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.2,no.2(1953:Feb): Page 2  

History in the Deep-Freeze
The Story of Columbia's Oral History Project



/" If ^ HE acquisition of hundreds of tape-recorded memoirs
from many outstanding national and international leaders,
each volume bound and sealed until the date set for re¬
lease by the donor, have transformed part of Columbia University
Library into a "deep-freeze" of current American history.

This is the work of the Oral History Research Office under the
Direction of Professor Allan Nevins.

Born of a sincere attempt to answer the all-important, elusive
historical "Why?," the project has combined the best of time-
tested interviewing technique with modern electronic recording
equipment to amass for future scholars a fabulous wealth of hither¬
to untapped source material. Complete autobiographies of the
great, the famous, and the prime-movers with a passion for ano¬
nymity will be available for historians of tomorrow—memoirs
which will bring into single focus the memory of a participant, the
critical questioning of a trained historian, and the documentation
of personal written and printed records. Frozen from the tempting
sensationalism of the present, the life story of our times told in
candid detail by the makers of modern history themselves will be
thawed in the future light of scholarly research.

Oral History, long a dream in the mind of Professor Nevins,
came into being in the fall of 1948 when he discovered that one of
his advanced graduate students had interviewing experience. With
a three-thousand-dollar grant from Columbia University's Ban¬
croft Fund to finance an Oral History Experiment, Professor
Nevins set program and poUcy, and assigned Mr. Dean Albertson
the task of recording the reminiscences of prominent citizens who
  v.2,no.2(1953:Feb): Page 2