Pathways to Oral History Access

In August 2013, a group of Kentucky oral history collection holders got together to discuss strategies for creating more confident access to oral history collections. Out of this discussion, moderated by A Guide to Oral History and The Law author, John Neuenschwander, participants devised some basic guidelines for consideration when determining what level of access an oral history collection holder can provide based on what level or informed consent is available for each oral history recording.

While looking at the ultimate goal of access for oral history collections within these Kentucky  institutions’ care, The intention of this document is to create pathways for oral history collections to be made publicly accessible. This document is meant to empower collection holders to provide access to collections within the boundaries of the law and our ethical standards as collection professionals, not to encourage the disregard of a collection donor’s original intent. There are levels of access we are able to provide for our collections. This decision tree is meant to help facilitate an institution’s decision for what level of access is appropriate in regards to collections that may have restrictions or non-standard forms attached to an interview or an oral history collection.

All decisions should be made in consideration of the Society for American Archivists code of ethics and the Oral History Association’s standards and best practices.

**Thanks to Sarah-Jane Poindexter, Co-director of the Oral History Center at the University of Louisville, for putting this content into this visualization tool. You can find contextual information by clicking on the various boxes in the chart.

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