Oral Histories

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The following archival collections contain primarily oral histories, or significant numbers of oral histories. The list is not comprehensive, and you may find oral histories in other collections as well.

Collection Number and Name
65 Native American Oral History Project Records
  • Contains the working papers, oral history interview audiotape recordings, transcripts, chapter drafts and final copies of the publication, The Tree That Never Dies, resulting from the project.
163 Kent County Council for Historic Preservation Oral History Collection
  • This collection includes taped reminiscences of people from Kent County, detailing local history; business and economic conditions; agricultural, urban and rural lifestyles; suffrage; theaters; religion and Native Americans. Contains information on Grand Rapids, Rockford, Ada, Cascade, Fallasburg, Cedar Springs, Kentwood, Grandville, and Comstock Park history.
164 The Grand Rapids Public Library Oral History Collection
  • Contains oral histories conducted by library staff or those donated to the library. The interviews date back to 1945 and contain information on Grand Rapids, Michigan history, politics, Native American businesses, immigrants, World War II, the 1911 furniture strike and major natural disasters, such as tornadoes and floods.
166 Grand Rapids Press Monday Guest Oral History Collection
  • The Monday Guest Collection includes interviews taped between 1978 and 1984 by Grand Rapids Press reporters for a column entitled "Monday Guest." Among the interviewees are: Donald Riegle on upcoming 1980 presidential election; Walter "Sparky" Anderson on his new position as coach of the Detroit Tigers; Richard DeVos on business at Amway; and Guy Vander Jagt with his views on Congress. The interviews details the political, social and business history of the area. Topics of emphasis are crime, drug abuse and ethnic diversity.
167 Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council Oral History Collection
  • Contains interviews conducted by the Council's members, which preserve a spoken record of their personal histories, families, activities, values and times, from as early as the 1840s to the present. Reflected are broad topics such as medicine, society and race. Also included are details about the lives of descendants of early settlement families, racism, volunteerism, discrimination based on gender, education and other topics.
168 Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids Oral History Collection
  • These interviews for the Oral History Project of the Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids were conducted by Buck Matthews. Those interviewed are among the many who played significant roles in the life, activities and accomplishments of the Council and other local arts organizations.
277 Hellenic Horizons
  • Hellenic Horizons was incorporated in 1979 to celebrate Greek heritage in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The collection includes over 110 hours of taped oral histories.
292 Hispanic American Oral History Project/Calvin College Latin American History Oral History Project
  • This devised collection contains oral histories of Hispanic immigrants in Grand Rapids, coming from a variety of Spanish speaking countries. The interviews were conducted by various individuals, through several different forums.
299 Eduard Adam Skendzel Polonian Historical Collection
  • This collection focuses on the Polish community in Grand Rapids and southwest Michigan, including 84 oral histories.
307 Grand Rapids Lesbian & Gay Organizations Project Collection
  • This collection relates to the local and Western Michigan gay and lesbian community since the 1980s. It includes a series of 10 oral history interviews.
339 Robert Raz and Alberta Massingill Oral History Collection
  • The result of a Friends of the Grand Rapids Public Library 100th Anniversary Project, this collection contains interviews with retired staff of the Grand Rapids Public Library conducted in 2004-2006. Those interviewed were librarians, library assistants and administrative, support and specialized staff.
353 The Arab American Community in Grand Rapids Collection
  • This collection was built by James Goode, a faculty member in the History Department at Grand Valley State University. It includes oral histories with members of the and the Arab American and Syrian communities in Grand Rapids.
369 Sharing Our Uncommon Legacy of Philanthropy:the SOUL Project
  • The S.O.U.L of Philanthropy project was a grassroots effort by a group of Grand Rapids, Michigan historians and film makers working together during 2006-2009. The group researched and interviewed twenty-eight Grand Rapids philanthropists using high definition video technology.
370 Community Voices Oral History Project
  • Community Voices is a project at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan that aims to teach students to listen and carefully record life stories from the Grand Rapids community. This collection contains oral histories or video of community residents, completed from 2001-2010.
415 Calvin College Great Migration oral histories
  • This collection includes oral histories of Black men and women from Grand Rapids, Michigan who were part of the Great Migration. The interviews were conducted as part of an interim course at Calvin College in January 2002, taught by Dr. Randal Jelks.


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