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Oral History Collections Research Guide: Mansfield Library Oral History Collections

This guide is a compilation of resources for conducting oral history interviews, as well as information related to select oral history collections available in the Archives and Special Collections of the Mansfield Library.

Our Location

Archives & Special Collections is located on the 4th floor of the Mansfield Library.

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Featured Interview

Interview with Byrony Schwan (OH 378-013)

This interview is one of over 50 in the Montana Feminist History Oral History Collection, which details the lives of women as midwives, women’s advocates, and organizers of women’s groups in western Montana. The collection was a collaborative project designed to collect and interpret the history of the second wave of feminism in Montana.

In this interview, Bryony Schwan describes her early background, her first sight of Missoula, and the events that led her to champion environmentalism and feminism side-by-side. She explains the impact of toxins on the environment and the results of Women's Voices for the Earth (WVE) and other organizations on eliminating and limiting toxins. Both the audio and the transcript for this interview are available to access online via ScholarWorks.

Interview Highlight:

"We’re totally destroying everything that keeps us alive as a species. I mean, we cannot live without air, water and food. We’re contaminating all of those…A hundred years from now, I would say, I hope that we won’t even have to be having this conversation. I hope that it will be something that we’ll look back at like we have at child labor during the Industrial Revolution. That we’ll look back at things that we’d say, “That’s crazy. How did humans ever allow…how did we ever behave like that”? I hope 100 years from now we won’t even have this discussion about the value of feminism…I hope that in 100 years from now…it’ll just be an assumed thing that everybody is a feminist. That everybody sees women should have the same rights." - Byrony Schwan, feminist and environmentalist (OH 378-013)

Symbol for woman with a western landscape in the background.

Our Collection

Oral Histories

Over 2,500 oral history recordings are available from the Mansfield Library's Archives and Special Collections. The majority of our oral histories can be found using the library's OneSearch or by using the search box on the Archives and Special Collections homepage. Audio recordings and transcripts for most of our oral histories are located in cabinets just outside the Archives and Special Collections room and are available for checkout from the library.

Tips for Searching OneSearch

All of our oral history interviews consist of a call number that includes OH (for oral history) and a series of numbers 3 digits-3 digits. For example: OH 396-067. You can search our catalog for specific call numbers in the format mentioned above, or if you know the name of the interviewee, search their name followed by the word "interview". For example: Alec Hansen Interview. You can also search for oral histories using subjects, such as forestry, with interview as the title, limiting the material type to audio visual.

Digital Collections

Several of our oral history collections, including the Montana Feminist History, University of Montana, and Bob Brown Oral History Collections, are now available online via ScholarWorks.

Spotlight Collections

Montana Women’s Oral History Collection (OH 049)

Two women standing beneath a sign

Hikers at Priest Pass, K.D. Swan Collection, Mss 345, Photo number: 94.4569

This collection includes 60 interviews detailing the everyday lives of women in Montana during the first half of the 20th century. It contains histories of women from a variety of economic, social, and political backgrounds and includes the stories of immigrants, ranchers, and nurses. The interviews were conducted from 1972 to 1981 by Mary Melcher, Pam Frasier, Kathy White, Eleanor Wendt, and Diane Sands. The interviewees discuss the role of and attitudes about women in the early decades of the 20th century. Topics include women’s suffrage, Prohibition, courtship and marriage, women’s fashion, birth control, midwifery, sex education, and child care and rearing.

Butte History Oral History Collection (OH 098)

Bird's-eye view of Butte, Montana (photo of a map)

Bird's-eye view of Butte City, Montana, 1893, Photo number: 79.2011

This collection includes 47 interviews detailing growing up in Butte, Montana, and the working conditions in that town during the early to mid-20th century. The interviews were conducted in 1980-1981 by Mary Murphy, Helen Bresler, and Paul Melvin. The interviewees discuss ethnic and racial relations, unions and mining, the Great Depression, and the role of the Anaconda Company in Butte. The original interviews are held as Oral History collection OH 098 at Archives and Special Collections, Mansfield Library, the University of Montana-Missoula.

University of Montana Centennial Oral History Collection (OH 270)

Group photo of four women and three men

First graduating class of the University of Montana-Missoula, 1898, Photo number: UM 94.0654

This collection includes 46 interviews detailing student and faculty life at the University of Montana from the 1930s to the 1980s. The interviews were conducted in 1991 by Annie Pontrelli in preparation for the University of Montana’s centennial in 1993. The interviewees discuss attending the University, the student organizations and activities in which they participated, their faculty colleagues, and former and current University presidents. The interviewees also provide advice to current students about how to make the most of their time at UM. The original interviews are held as Oral History collection OH 270 at Archives and Special Collections, Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula.

Don Oberdorfer Interview with Mike Mansfield Oral History Collection (OH 391)

Man standing at desk looking at mail

Mike Mansfield on Senator's Working Day, Mike Mansfield Papers, Mss 065, Photo number: 98.1358

This collection includes 22 interviews detailing the political career of Mike Mansfield which spanned four decades (1943-1988). The interviews were conducted between 1998 and 2001 by Don Oberdorfer. The interviewee discusses the time he served in the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Senate, as Senate Majority Leader, and as U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Oberdorfer conducted these rare oral history interviews while researching his book Senator Mansfield: The Extraordinary Life of a Great Statesman and Diplomat (2003). The original interviews are held as Oral History collection OH 391 at Archives and Special Collections, Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula.

Your Librarian

Donna McCrea
Head of Archives & Special Collections / Professor

Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library

(406) 243-4403