Voice of Witness

Voice of Witness is a nonprofit that uses oral history to illuminate ongoing human rights crises in the U.S. and around the world. It produces an acclaimed book series, published by McSweeney’s, that depicts these injustices through the stories of the men and women who experience them. Our education program fosters youth engagement with human rights by bringing these stories, and the issues they reflect, into classrooms throughout the U.S. and by providing holistic, oral history-based curricula support to educators. Voice of Witness was founded by author Dave Eggers and physician Lola Vollen.

For more information, visit www.voiceofwitness.org
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May 9th-11th, presented by the University of Chicago and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts

Craft Talk: Storytelling, May 10th, 11:00 am - 11:50 am

University of Chicago creative writing professor Dan Raeburn talks about the oral history genre with longtime Terkel collaborator Sydney Lewis, Smart Museum resident-artist Matt Austin, and author/editor Audrey Petty (High Rise Stories: Voices from Chicago Public Housing).

Reading: Voice of Witness, May 10th, 11:00 am - 11:50 am

Voice of Witness hosts a reading of selections from their various oral histories on social justice issues from around the world.

Terkel Talk: The Feeling and Tone with Audrey Petty, May 10th, 1:00 pm - 1:50 pm 

Audrey Petty discusses her oral history of the Chicago Housing Authority High Rise Stories with several of the narrators.

Find complete festival information here

Excited about oral history? Want to blog? Then it looks like Oxford University Press Oral History Review has the perfect opportunity for you… 

and we’re watching last year’s phenomenal MAKERS: Women Who Make America documentary as a final hurrah. What are you doing to celebrate? 

This winter, BOMB launched its oral history project, which will document the lives of African-American visual artists in NYC. Read the first installment, the life story of Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu, here

Voice of Witness San Francisco Learning Community Gathering

Saturday, April 26th from 9-12:30

849 Valencia St. San Francisco, CA

Using the Voice Witness Education Program goals of literacy, communication, community engagement, and critical thinking as a starting point, educators from around the Bay Area will explore essential questions and share their experiences related to oral history-based education. The morning will feature an informal keynote address…

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We are really digging this Mary Beard lecture (via the London Review of Books & BBC) on the ways women’s public narratives have been silenced throughout history. Great stuff to think about this Women’s History Month! 

In honor of Women’s History Month, check out this excerpt from Inside this Place, Not of It: Narratives from Women’s Prisons edited by Ayelet Waldman and Robin Levi (Voice of Witness, 2011). 


Imra Rodriquez, 45, currently imprisoned

I’m in my early forties and have spent more than half my life in prison or on parole. One of the first things I remember was when I was five years old. This big blue car pulled up to the trailer where I lived with my mom, and a lady with a big old hat came and put me in the car. She was from Children’s Services and she took me away with her. Later I found out that someone had called Children’s Services because of my stepfather, Manuel. He never molested me, never touched me. But he was a heroin addict. I remember always smelling burnt matches all the time as a kid. I hate that smell.

One time when he went out to cop some dope, he left me alone in the trailer with the outside of the trailer door tied shut. A lady in another trailer saw that and called the police. Manuel was just getting home when the police arrived, and I’ll never forget that feeling. I was so scared that they were going to arrest him, that they were there because of me, and they were going to take me away. And of course they did. Children’s Services took me to court, and the judge didn’t let any of my family have me. I remember screaming but it didn’t matter. I went back and forth between my grandparents and my godparents for a while, but finally the court agreed to let me live permanently with my grandparents.

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Amplifying Unheard Voices: Summer 2014 Oral History Training for Classroom and Community Educators

Training postcard 2014 FRONT(2)

Communication Arts and Sciences at Berkeley High School, 1980 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94703

For directions, visit: http://bhs.berkeleyschools.net/ 

June 23 – 26
9:30 am – 4:30 pm

This unique 4-day training will highlight the power of personal narrative and provide educators with the tools to conduct oral history projects in their classrooms and communities. Workshop participants will engage in…

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