Oral History Guidelines

The WHC accepts proposals for project that involve humanities scholars collaborating with members of the public to collect, interpret, and preserve spoken memories for the purpose of presenting the gathered material to the public. 

Like all good public humanities projects, those using oral history should spark the joy of discovery, engage audiences and scholars in critical exploration of the human experience, and prompt participants to see their place in the human community in new and surprising ways.

The WHC does not fund oral history projects that gather material for un-interpreted archival preservation or whose primary purpose is the unexamined celebration of a group’s history.


Good planning will help ensure a good oral history project.

WHC-funded projects should have a thematic focus. For example:

  • A place (e.g. a neighborhood or a community)
  • An historical event (e.g. World War II or a local strike)
  • A controversial issue (e.g. Native American treaty rights)
  • A custom or tradition (e.g. marriage celebrations among people of various ethnic groups in the same community, or within the same ethnic group across generations)
  • An institution (e.g. a religious, social, cultural, political, or other organization)
  • A group of people (e.g. members of a family, ethnic group, profession, political campaign, or social movement)
Download and read our Oral History Guidelines!