The Special Collections Division places special emphasis on oral history. The division has three active oral history projects: the Civil Rights Oral History Project, the Nashville Business Leaders Oral History Project, and the Veterans History Project. A new project, the Nashville Memory Project, is in development. The interviews conducted by these projects are included in the division’s holdings, which also include numerous interviews conducted by other organizations that have been donated to the library. In addition, the division’s holdings include the interviews conducted by StoryCorps at the Nashville StoryBooth during 2007-2008. These are non-circulating, closed-stack materials. Patrons wishing to access these materials should inquire at the public service desk, and all of our ongoing projects have extensive finding aids linked. Those interested in doing their own oral history project, or donating oral history interviews to the library, should see our Guidelines for Oral History Projects.
New Oral History Projects
The Special Collections Division is getting ready to begin a new oral history project called the Nashville Memory Project. This project will enable the division to capture stories that do not fall within the target populations of our existing projects and will allow anyone with a Nashville connection to schedule an interview. Interviews must be scheduled in advance. The interview may be conducted by someone who comes with the interviewee or by a project volunteer. While there will be some opportunity to discuss topics of the participants’ choice, the library will provide a list of questions for participants to answer.
This project is still in development and will be carried out by volunteers. Until such time as volunteers are recruited for the project, library staff may conduct interviews for this project as time permits.Interested persons should contact Special Collections Division Manager Andrea Blackman at (615) 862-5842 or or andrea (dot) blackman @nashville.gov.
Ongoing Oral History Projects
Civil Rights Oral History Project Collection, 2002 (pdf)
The collection includes audiocassettes, videocassettes and transcripts of oral history interviews conducted by library staff and volunteers. Interviewees are civil rights veterans, educators, community members, journalist, police officers, observers, students, church leaders, and activists recalling events related to the civil rights movement in Nashville
and the nation during the 1950s and 1960s. There are more than one hundred and twenty interviews. Civil Rights Oral History Project.
Nashville Business Leaders Oral History Project, 2006 -
Interviews with Nashville
civic and business leaders. Listen Now.
Southern Foodways Alliance Nashville Eats Interviews
The Turner Interviews
Veterans History Project
The Public Library of Nashville and Davidson County, in partnership with The Library of Congress and The American Folklife Center, is participating in the Veterans History Project. The purpose of the project is to collect materials, artifacts, and photographs related to military service and to record the oral histories of that service where possible. Interviews conducted with veterans and civilians who served in support of them from World War II, Korea, Vietnam
, and Persian Gulf Wars. This is an ongoing project. Listen now.
Completed Oral History Projects
Century III Nashville: Nashville Heritage Project (pdf)
Life in Nashville
as recalled by older citizens and tapes from training sessions. Recorded by students in the city, and others, mostly under the direction of Paul Clements, in 1980. Undertaken as part of Nashville's Bicentennial. Listen now.
Edgefield/East Nashville Oral History
Includes Willis Farris, Angie Donelson Merritt, Lera Bush Moore, Hershel G. Payne, Sara Bradford Saunders, Mary Wade (interviewer), and Kathie Hamilton (interviewer). These interviews were recorded in 1977-1978 by Historic Nashville, Inc.
Historic Nashville 1980 Oral History
Interviews about Nashville history from 1910 to 1935. Topics include historic Nashville homes, schools, Devon Farm, architecture, Ryman House, and Second Avenue.
Montgomery Bell Academy Alumni Interviews, 1980 (pdf)
The collection includes written notes, transcripts, or reports based upon interviews done in 1980 by students with alumni who attended the school between 1913 and 1979. Nearly 200 alumni were interviewed, some of them more than once by different students.
Nashville StoryCorps StoryBooth Interviews, 2007-2008
A collection of nearly 500 interviews conducted in the Nashville StoryCorps StoryBooth, located in the Nashville Room of the Nashville Public Library from September 2007 to September 2008. Each interview is approximately 40 minutes long and conducted with the help of a trained facilitator. Most interviews were conducted by family members and friends of the interviewees. Many interviews are accompanied by digital color photographs of the participants taken at the time of the interview. This collection is currently being processed, and a finding aid will be made available when completed. Listen now.
Tennessee Centennial Project: oral history, 1976
Nashvillians recall the Centennial Exposition of 1897. The interviews were conducted in 1976 by Historic Nashville, Inc. Listen now.
Recorded interviews with 110 Nashvillians concerning their knowledge of and personal experiences at Union Station and their travels on the trains in and out of the Station. These interviews were recorded in 1976 or 1977.