Texas Digital Library Conference System, 2015 Texas Conference on Digital Libraries

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Enhancing Access to UT Libraries Digital Oral History Collections as a Mode of Undergraduate Education: A Partnership Among Southwestern University, the Texas After Violence Project, and the Human Rights Documentation Initiative
Charlotte Nunes

Last modified: 2015-03-17


In this presentation I will report on a unique collaboration among an undergraduate English class at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, the Texas After Violence Project (TAVP), and the UT Libraries Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI).  As the instructor of “English 10-714: Freedom and Imprisonment in the American Literary Tradition: A Multidisciplinary Approach,” I coordinate with representatives of the TAVP and the HRDI to provide students in the class with opportunities to learn about digital archives by building them.  The TAVP is an Austin-based non-profit that collects oral histories from people across Texas who have been affected by the death penalty; these audiovisual oral histories are archived at the HRDI, which provides server space for large collections of audiovisual primary source material pertaining to issues of human rights internationally.  In the process of transcribing and auditing oral history interviews, creating abstracts and tables of contents for them, and digitally archiving the interviews at the HRDI using GLIFOS software, students in the class practice skills that are widely valued across the liberal arts: identifying and summarizing main ideas, researching context, recognizing the contingency of knowledge, and processing multiple divergent perspectives.  At the same time, students substantively contribute to the programming objectives of the TAVP by enhancing public access to oral history interviews at the HRDI.  My presentation will thus contribute to ongoing conversations about the transformative potential of digital libraries and archives for undergraduate education, while also pointing out the generative potential of undergraduate classes to enhance access to significant digital collections.  


digital archives; digital libraries; American literature; digital humanities; community engagement; oral history