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Martha Ross Center for Oral History

Significance of the Name

Mrs. Martha Ross is a founding member of Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region (OHMAR), Past President of the Oral History Association (OHA) and an educator who taught countless individuals the highest standards of oral history research. She is also a contributing author of the Wingspread Guidelines. This publication, which is used by UMBC's Institutional Review Board for research involving human subjects and a majority of institutions throughout the United States, is the standard of practice for the use of oral history.

Ms. Ross continues to mentor novice and experienced oral historians and advises various organizations with regard to the collection of quality oral history interviews. Therefore, the name Martha Ross represents the past, the present and the future of oral history.

Mission

The Martha Ross Center for Oral History is dedicated to implementing and improving oral history as a research methodology, educating students in the practices of oral history, and collecting, cataloguing and preserving oral history interviews throughout the  State of Maryland. The Martha Ross Center for Oral History is also dedicated to the missions and the goals of the Department of History and the University of Maryland Baltimore County

Goals

  • Work as a clearinghouse for oral history interviews and collections relating to Maryland history.
  • Conduct selected oral history interviews and oral history projects
  • Assist in collecting, preserving, and disseminating UMBC's institutional history.
  • Provide courses and educational experiences that relate to oral history research and education.
  • Provide curricular resources and curricular support for professors and other professionals wishing to utilize this research and  instructional methodology.
  • Serve as the institutional home of the Association of Oral History  Educators.
  • Produce educational materials in print and non-print formats.
  • Produce and maintain web sites and other instruments to promote, communicate, and disseminate the goals, research, and publications of the center.
  • Support and promote K-16 education and the mission of the Graduate School.

Background and Rationale

From 1976 to 1982, Mrs. Francis Scott Key served as the Director of Oral History at the Maryland Historical Society.  Her Office of Oral History collected biographical and thematic interviews and catalogued oral history collections throughout the state of Maryland.  When monetary support ended, the office was closed and these research efforts were discontinued. During this same period other states and regions expanded their support for oral history research.

In last two decades, over sixty oral history research projects of varying size and significance have been conducted throughout the state.  However, there has been no organized effort to collect, catalogue or publicize the resulting rich collections of interviews, historical documents, and other materials. A significant portion of this research has not been preserved or organized in any fashion.  Many projects have fallen into disarray, and in some cases, tragically, have been lost.

More than a third of the fifty states now have "official" oral history programs, organizations and sources of funding.  With the establishment of the Martha Ross Center for Oral History Maryland will benefit from the  collection, the cataloguing and the preservation of  oral history interviews relating to state and local history. The state will also benefit from the education of future oral historians capable of documenting these personal accounts. Thus,  educators, historians, researchers, interested citizens and associated organizations are encouraged to participate and assist the Martha Ross Center of Oral History in accomplishing these critical endeavors.