College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

Humanities and Communication

Oral History & Community Memory

The CSUMB Oral History and Community Memory Archive (OHCMA) promotes field oriented, project-based, archival and multimedia opportunities in oral history. Its goal is to encourage an integration of teaching, research, and ethical collaboration that involves students, faculty and community. The OHCMA promotes oral history projects that build understanding of the Central Coast's multicultural past, present and future. Projects are generated in collaboration with community interests and needs, and investigation results are returned to the communities and individuals involved, in ethical and collaborative ways. As a public research repository, the Archive welcomes use by students, scholars, and interested community members.

Artwork of tree with community images


Every year, students and faculty in the Oral History and Community Memory course (HCOM 350/350S), design and conduct oral histories focused on a particular project related to our local communities and the University. More than 400 audio and video interviews have been gathered todate, comprising 11 collections. Detailed Abstracts and Subject Indexes are available for most interviews. Collections are as follows:

  • Seaside - Voices of the African American Community - Includes 14 video interviews conducted in 2014 with prominent members of Seaside's historic African American community. The collection also includes the African American Legacy Project, a set of 6 video interviews commissioned in 2006 by the Visual and Public Art Department at CSUMB. Themes include: the earliest families on the Central Coast, the impact of Fort Ord on the development of Seaside, growing up in a multicultural community, civil rights and social activism, current struggles, and new arrivals.
  • Chinatown Renewal Project - Includes more than 140 video interviews conducted from 2007-2014 on memories of Salinas Chinatown from members of the Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Mexican and Homeless communities. These recordings are also to be archived in the future Salinas Chinatown Cultural Center and Museum, on Soledad Street. Themes include: Childhood memories of Chinatown and Japantown, the Republic CafĂ©, intercultural relations, agricultural labor, merchants and commerce, outsider gambling and nightlife, insider family life, and community social life and traditions.
  • Salinas - Old Town between the Wars; Salinas during World War II - Includes @16 video interviews recorded in 2012 and 2013 with prominent seniors about life in Salinas from 1920s to the 1950s. Themes include: childhood memories of Main Street, the Salinas Rodeo, influential families, the development of the agricultural industry, the "Okies," teachers, business people, and other professionals.
  • CSUMB Tenth Anniversary - Includes @ 25 audio interviews recorded in 2004, with founding university faculty, staff, administrators, members of the military community, and other community members. Diverse perspectives and reflections on narrators' contributions to the founding of the University and its development over the first ten years.
  • CSUMB First Generation College Students - Includes @90 audio interviews from 1998-2001 with CSUMB students who are first in their families to attend college. A sizeable proportion of the interviews are with Latino students from the Tri-County region. Themes include: family histories, migration, preparation for college, family support and constraints, financial and other obstacles, racial and gender discrimination, affirmation of rights and belonging, impact of college on aspirations and goals. To view the students' collaborative analysis, visit these course websites from the spring 1998 and spring 2000 sections of the Oral History and Community Memory course.
  • CSUMB Student Leaders - Includes five audio interviews with CSUMB student leaders from 1995-1999. Themes include: University Vision Statement, building the university, building student organizations, leadership opportunities, personal goals, assessment of accomplishments.
  • CSUMB History - Includes four audio interviews with CSUMB founding Provost, Assistant to the Provost, and other members of the founding administrators.
  • Monterey Bay Ethnic History - Includes several audio interviews with residents of the tri-county region.
  • Fort Ord Conversion Project - Includes audio interviews with @10 Army officers and ex-soldiers others about the Army, the closure of Fort Ord and the conversion to a university. Interviews conducted by students and faculty of the Visual and Public Art Department and Human Communication, in conjunction with the Window Murals Project.
  • Veterans of Fort Ord - Includes some audio interviews with individuals who served in the U.S. Army and were stationed at Fort Ord.
  • Chicano Veterans of Fort Ord - Includes @20 audio interviews with Chicanos who were stationed or trained at Fort Ord and served in Vietnam and other conflicts. Most interviews are from the local region.

Links to related projects

  • Latina Life Stories Digital Storytelling Project: Autobiographical digital stories produced by students in HCOM 328, Latina Life Stories, from 2000-2010.
  • Salinas Chinatown Oral History Walking Tour: A virtual and on-site oral history walking tour of historic Chinatown, through excerpts from oral histories in the Chinatown Renewal Project oral history collection. The Website includes full video interviews of selected Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Mexicano narrators, and other historical resources.