Author Archives: Barb Sommer

About Barb Sommer

Barbara W. Sommer, M.A., has over thirty-five years of experience in the oral history field. She has been principal investigator and director of more than twenty major oral community history projects and has taught oral history in post-secondary and community settings. She has presented keynote addresses at a number of regional oral history conferences, is a presenter at state, national, and international conferences, and is a long-time member of the Oral History Association (OHA) where she served in several leadership positions. She is the author and co-author of several key publications in the field including The Oral History Manual (3rd edition 2018), The American Indian Oral History Manual: Making Many Voices Heard (2008), the Community Oral History Toolkit (2013), Practicing Oral History in Historical Organizations (2015), and Doing Veterans Oral History (2015). She also is the author of the award-winning book Hard Work and a Good Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Minnesota (2008). She holds degrees from Carleton College and the University of Minnesota.

Downtown Omaha Oral History Project, 2018-2019

This is a project for History Nebraska (the Nebraska State Historical Society). Its focus is on changes in downtown Omaha, Nebraska, between the years 1965-1990. In this project, which focuses on descriptions of the image of downtown and the vision for change, interviewees describe the changes and discuss the actions that brought them about.

Minnesota Council on Foundations Oral History Project

Working with team member Erica S. Schultz, I have led the three stages of the Minnesota Council on Foundations Oral History Project. This multi-year Legacy funded oral history project has helped document the history of philanthropy from the viewpoint of foundation leaders in Minnesota. The interviews and all project materials are held by the Minnesota Council on Foundations.

HIV Healthcare Providers Oral History Project

Our team of interviewers recently completed the HIV Healthcare Providers Oral History Project. This 5-year Legacy grant funded project resulted in 35 fully transcribed interviews. The interviews and all related project materials are in the The Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Studies at the University of Minnesota Libraries.

The Oral History Manual, 3rd edition

The proposal for the third edition of The Oral History Manual submitted by Mary Kay Quinlan and me to Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., has been accepted. The publication is due out in 2018,

As co-authors., Mary Kay Quinlan and I are working on the third edition of The Oral History Manual. We’re adding information about updates and advances in oral history methodology, interviewing, and the impacts of technology and are looking forward to its 2018 release date.

The third edition of The Oral History Manual is due out in June/July 2018. Look for information about it on the Rowman & Littlefield website.

Duluth Art Institute Lincoln Branch Library

The Lincoln Branch Library, a Carnegie library now owned by the Duluth Art Institute, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2013 as a result of a nomination I prepared. Thank you to Erik Sommer for helping with the research in the Andrew Carnegie Collection at Columbia University.

Worthington Bandshell and Worthington War Memorial Building/County Library

The Worthington Bandshell is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the result of a nomination I wrote. The NRHP plaque  has been put on the bandshell; it is just above its original (Works Progress Administration) WPA National Youth Administration plaque recognizing the bandshell as a WPA/NYA project.

The Worthington War Memorial Building/County Library building is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. I wrote  the nomination and saw it through the nomination and listing process. This listing recognizes its history as the only building in Minnesota built through the State of Minnesota War Memorial Building statute (Minnesota Statutes 1945, Section 373.053) and its ties to the New Deal Works Progress Administration (WPA) Statewide Library Project.