Evolution and Transformation

Voices and stories are the essence of the Southern Oral History Program, but how are they captured and shared? From its founding in 1973, the SOHP has recorded and preserved oral histories in audio and text formats, through recordings, transcripts, tape logs, and other materials. Recording equipment has evolved as technology has improved over timefrom reel-to-reel tapes in the early 1970s, cassettes in the 1970s–2000s, CDs and minidiscs in the 1990s, to born-digital recordings today. The SOHP has one of the largest holdings of digitized and born-digital audio recordings in the country. Since the mid-2000s, the SOHP has digitized hundreds of oral histories on older media formats, and archives a constant flow of new interviews as digital audio files. Transcripts have undergone a similar transformation, from early type-written documents to digital files today.

The evolution of equipment and formats has revolutionized the ways in which the public can discover and access interviews. With the help of the Southern Historical Collection, the SOHP now offers a fully searchable database where people from around the world can regularly access our archive online. The SOHP continues to promote cutting edge scholarship about the American South, through a commitment to extending the reach of oral history in the digital age.

Browse through our sample of recording equipment and media here.