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Creating history: a case study in making oral histories more accessible in the digital age

Kristopher Turner (University of Wisconsin Law School Library, Madison, Wisconsin, USA)

Digital Library Perspectives

ISSN: 2059-5816

Article publication date: 13 February 2017




The purpose of this study is to examine how the University of Wisconsin Law School Library sought to create easily searchable oral histories by partnering with the University of Kentucky and the University of Wisconsin Oral History Program. Through this partnership, a digital archive of fully searchable and indexed oral histories with links to relevant articles, Library of Congress keywords, summaries and maps is being created, giving users the ability to delve into the Law School’s history more deeply and with more historical perspective than ever before.


The implementation of the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) and the development of a daily workflow for adding University of Wisconsin Law School oral histories to the program is closely examined. The pros and cons of the program are discussed as well as the future of the Law School oral histories.


The OHMS program is a powerful tool that allows researchers to quickly and easily locate relevant portions of an oral history, saving the time required to review hours of an interview. OHMS also allows archivists and librarians to better organize and catalog each oral history by providing important metadata tools that provide context and background on each unique oral history.


The University of Wisconsin Law School is the first law school to implement the OHMS program in concert with an institutional repository. The program, which is free and open source, may be of great value to historians, archivists and non-profits who wish to make their content more visible and more searchable.



Turner, K. (2017), "Creating history: a case study in making oral histories more accessible in the digital age", Digital Library Perspectives, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 48-62.



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