Special Collections & Archives Oral History Pilot Project

Thursday, August 11, 2022

The University of Waterloo Archives (UWA), within Special Collections & Archives (SCA), preserves recorded information of enduring administrative, legal, financial or historical value. UWA maintains the institutional memory of the University of Waterloo, ensures public accountability and transparency, and supports academic, administrative or legal research.

History of Its Time booklet cover, 1967, UA-181These records include over 200 oral histories recorded over several projects during the 1990s that document the lives and careers of Waterloo’s staff and faculty, including Gerald Hagey, James Downey, Nancy Lou Patterson, Joan Molloy and Bill Pearson. 

Oral histories allow us to gather, preserve, and interpret voices and memories of people, communities and participants of past events and can be a source of rich and important information when researching.

SCA is currently working on an oral history pilot project to actively document Waterloo’s history through the lived experiences of our staff, faculty and students. Over the course of the spring and fall terms, eight interviews are being held with the resulting records added to the UWA. Dr. Anne Millar, who completed her PhD in history at the University of Ottawa and was recently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Waterloo, where she conducted oral histories of women in engineering, will lead the interviews. 

Anne will be interviewing Waterloo staff, students and faculty, including colleagues from the Faculty of Mathematics, the Office of Research, Athletics and University Communications, amongst others.

Our hope is that this pilot will be the foundation for a larger, more comprehensive oral history program at Waterloo, including experiential learning opportunities for our students.  

As for immediate next steps, once the pilot is complete, we aim to have the recordings and transcriptions easily accessible online, as well as building out opportunities for students to be involved in many of the stages of this oral history work going forward. 

Watch this space for future updates. 

Nick Richbell
Head, Special Collections & Archives
nick.richbell@uwaterloo.ca  

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