Voices of Virginia: An Auditory Primary Source Reader

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Virginia Tech


Voices of Virginia pulls together stories from oral history collections from across decades and archives to create an all-audio source companion for Virginia’s high school and college students. The "album" is only two hours long, but contains dozens of short oral histories from eyewitnesses to key moments in American history, from the end of the Civil War to the 1980s. The excerpts are downloadable, accessible by smartphone, and accompanied by a transcript. Audio clips are also available on Soundcloud. You’ll also find a brief introduction to each narrator, historical context adapted from experts at Encyclopedia Virginia, American Yawp, and Public Domain sources, and helpful classroom tools like discussion questions, activities, and lesson plans that fit into both the Virginia high school and college U.S. History curriculum. By following the larger national story with narratives from across the Commonwealth, Voices of Virginia grounds students in how history guides and is guided by everyday people and their experiences.

Voices of Virginia is a winner of the 2020 Mason Multi-Media Award from the Oral History Association.

Over twenty archives across Virginia and beyond have generously donated segments, and granted permission for their oral histories to be reproduced and publicly shared under a CC BY NC SA 4.0 license, which ensures that the content remains free to use and re-purpose for all listeners. These archives include:

  • African American Historical Society of Portsmouth
  • Amherst Glebe Arts Response
  • Archives of Appalachia (Eastern Tennessee State University)
  • Cape Charles Rosenwald Initiative
  • Center for Documentary Studies and the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library (Duke University)
  • Charles City County Richard M. Bowman Center for Local History
  • Chuck Mauro, private collection (Herndon, VA)
  • Clarence Dunnaville (American Civil War Museum)
  • Desegregation of Virginia Education Project (Old Dominion University)
  • Digital Library of Appalachia (Appalachian College Association)
  • Eastern Shore of Virginia Barrier Islands Center
  • Friends of the Rappahannock
  • George Mason University
  • Grayson County Historical Society
  • Greene County Historical Society
  • Mountain Home Center (Bland County Public Schools)
  • Old Dominion University Libraries Special Collections and University Archives
  • Oral History Archives at Columbia (Columbia University)
  • Roanoke Public Library (Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ History Project)
  • Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (University of Florida)
  • Southern Foodways Alliance (University of Mississippi)

This material is aligned to the History and Social Science Standards for Virginia Public Schools - March 2015.

The collection was curated by Jessica Taylor, Ph.D. with Emily Stewart.

Feedback regarding this collection is welcome at https://bit.ly/VoicesOfVirginia

This work was made possible in part by a grant from University Libraries at Virginia Tech’s Open Education Initiative.

About the editors

Jessica Taylor is the Director of Public History and an Assistant Professor of Early American and Oral History in the History Department at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech) where she has been a faculty member since 2018. Jessica completed her Ph.D. in History at the University of Florida and her undergraduate and master's studies at the College of William and Mary. Her research and work focuses on the history of social change in Virginia and the American South, from the colonial period to the present day. Dr. Taylor collaborates with preservation and historical groups across the South to collect and share oral histories, teaches Public History and Native History classes, and is the author of multiple journal articles about historical memory in the South. Her manuscript, Certaine Boundes: Borders and Movement in the Native Chesapeake, explores the lives of Indians and non-elites in seventeenth-century Virginia. Beyond writing, she works to provide opportunities for and be a better teacher to every kind of student. She is always looking for hands-on experiences and conversations about activism, history, archaeology, preservation, museums, and liberal arts education.

Emily Stewart is a student in Virginia Tech's History MA program. She will earn her Master's degree in May, 2020. Emily completed her undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech where she majored in History. Her current research focuses on Virginia educational history in the twentieth century. Her master's thesis focuses on the relationship between standardization and segregation of Virginia public education in the early twentieth century. Throughout her studies at Virginia Tech, Emily has always been interested in oral histories. The Voices of Virginia project presented her with an ideal opportunity to further cultivate her interest in the field of oral and public history.



38th Parallel, 761st Tank Battalion, Aberdeen Gardens, African American History, African-American, all white high school, American soldiers, anti-Semitism, Appalachia, Asia, audio, Axis Sally, baking bread, Battle of Malvern Hill, Battle of the Bulge, Betty Fredian, black child, black farm worker, black library, black men, black resettlement, black school, black students, black-white relationships, boarding school dorm, bootleger, Brown v Board of Education, business leaders, busing, candy apples, Canton China, car, childhood, Civil Rights, Civil Rights Movement, civil war, Civil War, Civil War deserter, coal, coal mining, coal mining community, coal mining town, coastal defense, Cold War, Cold War weapons development, communism, company store, court system, Eastern Europe, escape from slavery, farm, female mayor, Feminine Mystique, feminism, Flanders, food, Franklin County cave system, Gandhian tactics, German forces, German military technology, government assistance, government research institutes, grandparents, Great Depression, Great Migration, Halloween, high school, Hitler, Hungarian immigrant, immigration, Indian children, integration, inventors, Iwo Jima, James Cox, Japanese classes, Japanese forces, Japanese prisoner of war, Jim Crow, John Henry, Korean War, law student, LGBTQ, lunch counter sit-in, lynching, majority-black battalion, Marshall Plan, Massive Resistance, mental health, Merchant Marines, mining, Monacan Indian, Morgan's Drugstore, National American Suffrage Association, Native American History, nineteenth amendment, non binary, Old Dominion University, open access, open educational resource, oral history, Pamunkey, piano, polio, Polish immigrant, popular music, President William Howard Taft, Prohibition, public history, public school, racial lines, railroad, railroad song, railroad tracks, Rappahannock tribe, residential segregation, Russian influence, school desegregation, segregation, segregation laws, Shenandoah Valley, slavery, social upheaval, standards of learning, suffrage, suffragette, teacher, think tank, Tokyo Rose, transportation, turnips, Union deserters, unionization, unionize, United States Marines, US Supreme Court, Vietnam War, Virginia coastline, Virginia history, Virginia Military Institute, volunteer work, white employers, white students, World War I, World War II, writing letters, young girl, young woman working