PRESS RELEASE — A new online database of Wyoming oral histories set to launch in Spring 2016. Researchers looking for oral history materials in Wyoming will have a brand new resource this spring when the Wyoming State Historical Society (WSHS) launches the Wyoming Oral History Online Database. The WOHO database will serve as a comprehensive, updatable listing of oral histories held in libraries, museums, private collections and other repositories in the state.

The database has been two years in the making.  In 2014 WSHS, a nonprofit membership driven educational organization, received a grant from the Wyoming State Historic Records Advisory Board (SHRAB) to survey the oral history holdings in Wyoming.  WSHS member and project director Barbara Bogart traveled the state to visit institutions most likely to house oral histories.  “After surveying 75 to 80% of the museums and libraries in Wyoming,” Bogart says, “I discovered that the oral history collections in the state are far richer than I expected.”  Bogart’s survey turned up approximately 2,500 oral histories, and she suspects there are many more to be located.

The goal of the project from the beginning was to create an online database for researchers to use. In 2015, a grant to the WSHS from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund made the development of the database possible.  Using the database will allow researchers to identify oral histories in their subject area and to discover where those records are housed.

“Having all the oral histories in a single database means each institution retains its own materials for researchers to use on-site,” explains Bogart.  “The database will help connect researchers with institutions, resulting in more visitors to Wyoming museums and libraries with oral histories.”

The accuracy of the database depends, of course, on the information provided by each institution. Beginning in March, museums, libraries and other repositories will receive a letter from Bogart with instructions on submitting their information to the database.  “We’re making the process as simple as we can,” Bogart explains.  Institutions that have computerized catalogs can simply export their data into an Excel spreadsheet.  For institutions that do not have digital records, staff members or volunteers can type information directly into the database template.  In some instances, smaller institutions with no staff and limited volunteer help may ask for assistance in gathering the necessary information about their oral histories to be included in the database.
For more information about the Wyoming Oral History Online Database, contact Barbara Bogart at barbara.a.bogart@gmail.com or 307-399-0806, or visit www.wyshs.org

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