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Oral History


The West Virginia and Regional History Center possesses a large and diverse collection of oral history recordings documenting the culture and history of West Virginia and the surrounding region. Most interviews were conducted and recorded from the 1940s to the 1980s. The content is diverse, covering topics such as:

industry (including agriculture, coal, glass, newspapers, railroads, timber, etc.)
immigration (including Swiss in the town of Helvetia, Italians, Polish, etc.)
labor history (including child labor, unions, strikes, mine disasters, "Mother Jones", etc.)
education, health care, social work, religion
folk culture (including folklore, music, food, blacksmithing, etc.)
utilities (including electricity, telephone, and water)
West Virginia University
World War I
Great Depression
World War II

Searching the Archives

List of Indexed Collections

  • collections are listed numerically by collection number
  • preceding each collection description is a number -- this collection number, along with the name of the interviewee, are helpful when asking Center staff to pull the specific oral history interview that you need
  • please note that this list is not exhaustive; Center staff can help you find additional collections in our oral histories and in our Guide to Archives and Manuscripts.
  • Addendum to the Oral History Collection
    • Oral histories 418-621 are not represented in the existing index below, but they do have collection numbers listed and can be requested. Please contact our reference staff for assistance.


  • index terms are correlated to collection numbers
  • index terms cited multiple times for a collection indicate multiple mentions of a topic within a collection
List of Collections with Index

Using the Collection

The sound recordings in the WVRHC oral history collection are available for use in the WVRHC facility during all full service hours. The reference staff will assist researchers with their requests and provide a listening station with audio equipment and headphones.

External reference and copy services are also available.

Those requesting copies of recordings will be required to complete and sign a "Conditions for Use" form, which indicates:

  • Types of use and their definition, including personal, non-profit, and commercial.
  • Requirements for crediting the West Virginia and Regional History Center as source of sound recordings.
  • Copyright issues.
  • Other issues.

To place an order, use the  Sound Recordings and Motion Pictures Reproduction Request Form.

Rates for Audio Copying

All audio reproduction requests are to be prepaid. Reproduction and use fees for sound recordings can be found on the WVRHC's  Reproduction & Use Fees webpage.