Oral Histories

Criteria for Oral History Grants

Organizations may apply for funding for oral history projects. Ideally these projects will:

  • Address a rare, vanishing, or otherwise threatened subject area or population
  • Capture the memories of a significant person or group who is/are at risk of disappearing
  • Focus on capturing memories related to a topic significant to Montana history
  • Focus on an individual or group that represents characteristics of a culture, organization, or community significant to Montana history
  • Employ an expert to conduct the oral interviews and/or include provisions to train interviewers in advance of conducting oral interviews

Oral History proposals must:

  • Provide a set of sample questions / material to be gathered
  • Provide a written release to be secured from all interviewees in order that material collected may be shared and used by others for educational purposes
  • Provide a training plan for interviewers if a trained oral historian will not be conducting interviews*
  • Provide specific details on how the material collected will be archived and shared online using acceptable protocols through the Montana Memory Project (www.mtmemory.org) or another widely accessible repository

Some examples of eligible projects include:

  • Interviews with elders and/or intergenerational interviews about ceremonies or experiences that are no longer commonly practiced
  • Interviews with individuals who participated in a significant event in Montana history (a political convention, the signing of an agreement, etc.)
  • Some past projects have included such topics as women in agriculture, dramatic change of northeast Montana communities as a result of the Bakken oil boom, and intertribal exchange of songs and ceremonies by Native elders

Oral History Podcast Projects

Oral history podcast projects may involve single programs, limited series, or segments within an ongoing series. Applicants must have clear central ideas and a solid command of the major historical scholarship on their subject.

All podcast projects must include interviews with people who serve as primary sources. Like traditional oral history projects, a podcast oral history project proposal must include a sample waiver to be signed by the primary source interviewees.

All projects should:

  • Approach a subject analytically, presenting a variety of perspectives
  • Deepen public understanding
  • Involve appropriate media professionals
  • Employ appealing and accessible program formats that will actively engage the general public in learning
  • Include production and distribution timelines and work plans
  • Include a distribution plan to reach broad public audiences

Grant recipients are expected to provide MHF with access to the final podcast project at the conclusion of the one-year grant period.

*Note: In cases where a trained oral historian will not be engaged to conduct the project, the proposal must include provisions to have training providing to the individual(s) conducting the interviews. Such training may be arranged through the Montana Historical Society.