Oral histories are stories that living individuals tell about their past, or about the past of other people. Gathering, preserving and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events is oldest type of historical inquiry, predating the written word, and one of the most modern, initiated with tape recorders in the 1940s and now using 21st-century digital technologies.

The Lawrence History Center began conducting oral histories in 1978 using tape recorders. Our collection currently includes approximately 700 audio tapes that have now been digitally mastered, some with eyewitness accounts going as far back as the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. Interviews cover a variety of subjects (e.g., military services, immigration, schools, churches, neighborhoods, labor, clubs & organizations, social services, family and civic life, and urban renewal).