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Practicing Oral History

Museums, historical societies, libraries, classrooms, cultural institutions, alumni associations, and neighborhood groups are among the growing list of organizations that use oral history to document their own communities. At present, there are no handy resources for these professionals to plan and implement an oral history project within their own professional frameworks.

The Left Coast series Practicing Oral History fills this gap. Series titles consist of concise, instructive books that address the special circumstances of oral history within a specific user community.  Each title provides practical tools for conducting and presenting an oral history project that conforms to the best practices of the Oral History Association but targets the particular needs of a community.

Sample topics include, but are not restricted to: 

  • Doing Oral History in Public Libraries
  • Doing Oral History in Museums
  • Using Oral History for Family History
  • Using Oral History for Institutional History
  • Incorporating Oral History in the K-12 Curriculum
  • Using Oral History in the Health Care Professions
  • Using Oral History to Foster Social Change
  • Transcribing Oral Histories
  • Cataloging Oral Histories

It is not necessary to have a fully developed idea; we would like to work with you at any stage of your project. Contact Series Editor Nancy MacKay at nancymackay@gmail.com to tell us about your idea, project, or proposal. 


  • Oral History with Immigrant Narrators, Carol McKirdy
  • Practicing Oral History in Historical Organizations, Barbara W. Sommer
  • Practicing Critical Oral History in the Schools, Christine K. Lemley
  • Practicing Oral History to Connect University to Community, Beverly B. Allen and Fawn-Amber Montoya


Editorial Board

Series Editor:  Nancy MacKay, San Jose State University

Nancy MacKay has been straddling the line between library science and oral history for more than 30 years. As Technical Services Librarian at the Mills College Library (Oakland, California) from 1989-2012, her job included the managing the college oral history program as well as the back-end functions of the library. She has been teaching information science and oral history at the San Jose State University, School of Information since 2008.

Nancy frequently writes, teaches, consults, and speaks about oral history. She is author of Curating Oral Histories (2007, currently in revision) and co-author of The Community Oral History Toolkit(2013). Current research interests include metadata for oral histories, community oral history, and oral history in a cross-cultural setting. Her most recent project is developing an archiving plan for the oral histories created in China by the Evergreen Education Foundation.

She holds a B.A. degree in anthropology and an MLIS degree in Library Science, both from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Proposals and inquiries about manuscripts should be directed to: nancymackay@gmail.com.

Series Titles

Curating Oral Histories, Second Edition
From Interview to Archive
Nancy MacKay (Author)
Practicing Oral History in Historical Organizations
Barbara W. Sommer (Author), Nancy MacKay (Foreword By)
Practicing Oral History with Immigrant Narrators
Carol McKirdy (Author), Nancy MacKay (Foreword By)
Story Bridges
A Guide to Conducting Intergenerational Oral History Projects
Angela Zusman (Author)

Other Left Coast Series

Click the related link below to browse books for that series.

  • Advances in Critical Medical Anthropology
  • Anthropology and Business: Crossing boundaries, Innovating Praxis
  • Anthropology and Global Public Health: Critical Approaches and Constructive Solutions
  • Archaeological Methods & Practice: An Educational Film Series
  • Archaeology and Indigenous Peoples
  • Community Oral History Toolkit
  • Critical Cultural Heritage Series
  • Critical Cultural Studies in Global Health Communication
  • Developing Qualitative Inquiry
  • Encounters with Ancient Egypt
  • Exploratorium Museum Professional Series
  • Guides to Historical Artifacts
  • Heritage, Tourism, and Community
  • International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry Series
  • International Institute for Qualitative Methodology Series
  • Journal of Museum Education Thematic Issues
  • Key Questions in Anthropology: Little Books on Big Ideas
  • Lithic Technology, Special Publications
  • Museum Store Association Series
  • Museums & Social Issues Journal Thematic Issues
  • New Frontiers in Historical Ecology
  • One World Archaeology
  • Phenomenology of Practice
  • Practicing Oral History
  • Qualitative Essentials
  • Qualitative Inquiry and Social Justice
  • Statistical Research, Inc.
  • Techniques and Issues in Cultural Resources Management
  • The New Biological Anthropology
  • University College London Institute of Archaeology Publications
  • World Archaeological Congress Research Handbooks in Archaeology
  • Writing Lives: Ethnographic Narratives
  • Yearbook of Cultural Property Law

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