Oral History

Primary Sources for Student Research

Collections of Materials at CSULB and Local Universities

CSULB On-Line Oral Histories:

Voices of the People On-Line: Oral History Recordings in Women’s, Labor, Ethnic and Community Studies

VOAHA brings to life the timbre and tone of voice, the nuances of spoken language, and the richness of oral narratives of some 343 African Americans, American Indians, Asian Americans, Latinos/as and Southern and Eastern European immigrants. They range from farm laborers to professionals, from social reformers/community activists to anarchists and communists, from ventriloquists to jazz arrangers. In a variety of dialects, in this oral literary genre, they recount their joys and sorrows and their triumphs and defeats as they lived out their daily lives in the period from the 1890s to the 1990s. Their narratives are organized in 30 series:* [Note: some are listed in more than one of the general categories.**]


WOMEN’S STUDIES – 142 narrators, 695 hours

Topics – 1900 to 1960s: radicals and reformers; suffragists; women in professions, business and entertainment; WW2 aircraft workers; women’s lives/women’s work; and garment workers (labor collection).[See also LongBeach/Community Builders]

Topics – 1960s to 1980s: Asian American women’s movement; Chicana feminist activists; feminist health movement; Los Angeles feminists; and welfare mothers movement.


LABOR STUDIES – 48 narrators, 167 hours

Topics: desegregating unions, WW2; organizing Mexican furniture workers; oil workers organizing and lives; women garment workers, including organizing of Chicago Women’s Local; and the lives and experiences of individuals active in the labor movement and/or who were participants in historic moments in labor history in Flint, Michigan, Ludlow, Colorado and Oakland, California.


ETHNIC STUDIES – 110 narrators, 256 hours

Note: many narrators discuss ethnic/race relations, but the following refers only to the interviews with people of color and/or immigrants.

African Americans- Topics: desegregating LA aircraft and shipbuilding unions (labor collection); organizing to open wartime jobs, and the experiences of the women aircraft workers, women’s lives/women’s work, and women’s social reform activism (women’s history); and, civil rights and institution building (Long Beach history). (19 narrators, 53 hours)

American Indian LivesTopics: impact of Indian boarding schools; the occupation of Alcatraz Island (6 narrators/14 hrs);

Asian Americans  – Topics:  Terminal Island Japanese fishing village (Long Beach history); Japanese community of South Bay; Asian American women’s movement (women’s history); and Cambodian and Hmong immigrants (50 narrators, 96 hours).

Mexicans/Chicanos/Chicanas  – Topics: Chicano Student Movement; Mexican Revolution; life and work on Rancho Los Alamitos; furniture workers, and garment workers efforts to form a Spanish speaking local (labor collection); Chicana feminists, including founders of Hijas de Cuauhtemoc and Comision Feminil Mexicana; WW2 aircraft workers; and women’s lives/women’s work (women’s history. (35 narrators, 93 hours).


COMMUNITY STUDIES – 91 narrators, 195 hours

Topics: focus on Long Beach, Signal Hill and Terminal island and includes discovery/extraction of oil and subsequent economic, political and social changes; building of community institutions, including the university; Terminal Island Japanese fishing village; work/lives of oil workers (labor  collection) and Mexican workers on Rancho Los Alamitos (Mexican American collection); and women community builders (women’s history).