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Oral History Research Guide

A compilation of resources on what oral history is, how to do oral history, and how to locate oral history interviews.

Oral Histories by Topic

Most of the 2,100+ oral histories interviews held by the Mansfield Library's Archives and Special Collections document the people and activities of the University of Montana, Western Montana, and the Northwest region. Many of them fall under the following categories:

  • Women's history and feminism in Montana
  • Land use, forestry, and mining in Montana and the American West
  • Montana politics and political figures; and University of Montana history
  • Montana communities
  • Homesteading and settlement in Montana
  • Smokejumping

We hold a few interviews with members of Montana tribal nations. For additional information about oral history interviews with tribal members in Montana, go to the Finding Oral Histories about Montana Tribal Nations page of this guide.

The collections featured on this page are grouped by subject, but they only represent a few of the interviews we hold related to a particular topic. For a more comprehensive list, please contact Archives and Special Collections at (406) 243-2053 or by email.

Oral Histories about Montana Women

Photo of women standing in front of soddy

Montana Women's Oral History Project (OH 049) - Interviews detailing the everyday lives of Montana women homesteaders during the early 20th century.

Montana Women Pilots Oral History Project (OH 262) - Interviews about the history of women pilots in Montana and their participation in the Ninety-Nines and the Powder Puff Derby.

Star Quilts Oral History Project (OH 285) - Interviews detailing the history and tradition of quilting among women of the Nakona and Dakota tribes and its role as a traditional art form.

Lucile Speer Interviews Oral History Project (OH 046) - Interviews with former University of Montana Librarian Lucile Speer about her involvement in the Montana Farmer-Labor Institute, the University Teachers Union, and 1971-1972 Montana Constitutional Convention delegation.

Oral Histories about Montana Politics and Political Figures

Photo of Montana state flag

Daniel Kemmis Interviews Oral History Project (OH 036) - Interviews with Daniel Kemmis about his political career as a Montana State Representative and City of Missoula councilman during the 1970s and 1980s.

Montana Feminist Oral History Project (OH 378) - Interviews detailing the lives of women as midwives, women’s advocates, and organizers of women’s groups in western Montana during the second-wave feminism movement.

Missoula Women for Peace Oral History Project (OH 389) - These 12 interviews detail the formation and peace activism of the Missoula Women for Peace group in Missoula, Montana.

Don Oberdorfer's Interviews with Mike Mansfield Oral History Project (OH 391) - Interviews with Mike Mansfield detailing his political career as U.S. Senator, Senate Majority Leader, and U.S. Ambassador to Japan, which spanned four decades (1943-1988).

Bob Brown Oral History Project (OH 396) - Interviews with various Montana political figures, journalists, and attorneys about the inner workings of the Montana Legislature from the 1950s to the early 1990s.

Oral Histories about Montana Communities

Photo of men marching in a parade

Garnet Preservation Association Oral History Project (OH 379) - Interviews detailing growing up in Garnet, Montana, (now a ghost town) during the early to mid-20th century, attending school there, and the mining economy of the town.

Frenchtown Historical Society Oral History Project (OH 047) - Interviews detailing the lives of residents of the Frenchtown, Montana area during the late 19th and early 20th centuries including the town's establishment the St. John’s Day celebrations, and their French-Canadian heritage.

Butte Oral History Project (OH 098) - Interviews about the history of Butte, Montana, during the early and mid-20th century, including ethnic and racial relations, unions and mining, the Great Depression and the role of the Anaconda Company in Butte.

Bitterroot Historical Society Oral History Project (OH 120) - Interviews detailing aspects of life in the Bitterroot Valley, Montana, during the early and mid-20th century including descriptions of rural schools, the Valley's fruit growers and creameries, and the role of Rocky Mountain Laboratories.

Oral Histories about the University of Montana

Aerial photo of University of Montana's Main Hall

University of Montana Centennial Oral History Project (OH 270) - Interviews with former University of Montana faculty, staff, students, and administrators detailing student life, the interactions between faculty, staff, and former University presidents.

University of Montana Oral History Project (OH 408) - Interviews with former University of Montana faculty and administration about the history, development, and changes to the University of Montana from the 1960s to the 1980s.

University of Montana Department of Mathematical Sciences Oral History Project (OH 412) - Interviews with faculty members of of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Montana detailing their teaching experiences.

Oral Histories about Land Use, Mining, and Forestry in Montana

Photo of mountains and trees

Harry Thomas Gisborne Oral History Project (OH 044) - Interviews with U.S. Forest Service personnel about Harry T. Gisborne.

Twentieth Century Fur Trappers Oral History Project (OH 099) - Interviews with Montana fur trappers, fur buyers, game wardens and wildlife managers detailing specific trapping methods, predator control, and the history of trapping in Montana.

Smokejumpers 1984 Reunion Oral History Project (OH 133) - Interviews with smokejumpers and support personnel detailing their smokejumping experiences throughout the northwest United States from the 1940s to the 1980s. 

Robert Wolf Interviews Oral History Project (OH 227) - Interviews with former Bureau of Land Management administrator Robert Wolf about the history of the Forest Service from 1870 to 2001, its practices, legislation, and the roles of legislators and governmental agencies in these processes.

Civilian Public Service Smokejumpers Oral History Project (OH 163) - Interviews with World War Two conscientious objectors who served as smokejumpers and trained at Seeley Lake, Montana.