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Oral history cassettes are digitized

Posted on July 28th, 2020

Booth Library has recently completed a two-year project to digitize oral history interviews recorded on cassette tapes in the 1970s and 1908s. These oral history interviews can now be accessed in the Illinois Digital Archives at http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/p16614coll47/search/.

The East Central Illinois Local History Oral Interviews project is a collection of 98 recorded interviews (including transcripts) with residents of East Central Illinois, particularly Coles County, as well as with important political figures and Eastern Illinois University faculty and staff.

The interviews were conducted mostly in the 1970s and 1980s by graduate students of History at EIU. Until now, the cassette tapes have been safely stored away but difficult to access in University Archives at Booth Library.

The participants in the interviews, many of them longtime residents of Coles County at the time of the interviews, represent firsthand accounts of such historical events as the Charleston-Mattoon tornado of 1917, rationing in Coles County during World War II, and insights into farming and domestic life as far back as the very early years of the 20th century. The interviews provide unique perspectives and observations from individuals who represent direct linkages to the past through their experiences.

Funding for the digitization of these cassette tapes was provided by a grant from the Illinois State Library, and the digitization project was managed at Booth Library by Bill Schultz, cataloging librarian, along with student Emily Sivia.

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