Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Oral History Program
- The ALPL Oral History Program is dedicated to preserving the stories and memories of Illinois‘s citizens, not just the famous and prominent among us, but of people from all walks of life. Oral history combines the most ancient way humanity has preserved history—through the spoken word—with modern technology. It preserves the first-hand accounts of people who have lived eventful lives, giving voice to those who are too often overlooked by traditional historians, and recording stories and experiences too rarely preserved.
- The Oral History Program is organized into the projects listed below. Our top priority projects are Illinois Statecraft (IL politics), Agriculture in Illinois, and Veterans Remember, but we believe there is something of interest for everyone. We invite you to explore our site and discover for yourself the richness and diversity of our growing collection.
- Patrons who would like to find out more about a particular interview are encouraged to visit the Library. Many of our interviews include additional documents, photos and related materials that are preserved in the oral history archive maintained in the Library’s Audio-Visual Department. For further information, or for making an appointment, please call the reference desk at (217) 524-6358.
- Library hours are Monday – Friday: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
ALPL Oral History Projects
Agriculture in Illinois
Agriculture is central to the story of Illinois. From Illinois‘s earliest settlement to the present, agriculture was and still is the state's most important enterprise. You’ll find a large and diverse collection of interviews here, capturing both farming in a bygone era and agriculture as it is practiced today.
The Community Stories project seeks to offer a glimpse into the unique history of individuals, organizations, businesses and local government that together make up the fabric of communities across Illinois. Contact us if you’re interested in featuring your own community’s story to our collection.
The Education is Key oral history project tells the story of education in Illinois that continues to evolve in our complex and dynamic society. This project studies both the triumphs as well as the many challenges that educators, students and community leaders face today.
The Family Memories collection is an eclectic mixture of interviews with people who have made special contributions to their families and communities, and who have a compelling story to tell us about their experiences.
These interviews chronicle the early history of girls' basketball in Illinois and the struggles for both Illinois girls' basketball (high school level) and women’s basketball (collegiate) throughout the country.
The Historians Speak project is a collection of interviews conducted by professional historians with other historians who have spent their lives thinking, teaching and writing about Illinois and the legacy of Abraham Lincoln.
Every institution has a history, stories about its creation, and tales of its ebbs and flows over time. The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA), charged with preserving the history of a rich and diverse state, is no exception.
The story of Illinois politics is not only colorful but also essential to our understanding of Illinois and its place in the nation and the world. This project focuses not just on Illinois politicians, but also on journalists, political aides, lobbyists, jurists, administrators, friends and relatives.
America is a nation of immigrants, and immigration is a theme that animates much of Illinois’s history as well. This project gives voice to many of our recent immigrants, as each new wave adds to the mosaic that is the United States, enriching us and invigorating us in the process.
The People of Faith project preserves the stories and spiritual journeys of Illinoisans from the wide variety of religious faiths and callings as practiced in the early 21st Century.
Sports do more than entertain us. For many, they provide formative experiences as we come of age, often transforming our lives in ways we only dimly understand. This project is dedicated to collecting the stories of Illinois’s rich sports history, and preserving them for future generations.
Springfield African-American History
Established in 2003, the Springfield (Illinois) African-American History Foundation (SAAHF) has recorded the stories of African-Americans whose families have lived in the Springfield area for several generations.
This project honors our nations veterans, as well as those who stayed behind. It is organized by war, and includes collections for World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, Gulf War, and the War on Terror.
The oral histories presented here are the result of the hard work, commitment, and generosity of many people and organizations. We are especially thankful for the continuing support of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation and the tireless efforts of the Information Technology staff. Dedicated and talented volunteers have unselfishly offered their time and skills in conducting, transcribing, auditing, and editing the interviews.
The ALPL Oral History program has been fortunate to receive several grants from public and private institutions. Our granting institutions include the Tawani Foundation of Chicago, Illinois, which supports the Veterans Remember project, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, whose grant supported the Oral History of Illinois Agriculture project. The Springfield African-American History Foundation (SAAHF) transcriptions have been funded in part by an Illinois Humanities Council grant to the SAAHF.
We are indebted to Dr. Cullom Davis, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois-Springfield, formerly Sangamon State University. A pioneer in the field of oral history and a former president of the Oral History Association, Davis is a mentor and informal advisor to the program.
- Having problems with one of our interviews? Do you have suggestions for future interview candidates, or need advice for doing your own interview project? We welcome your comments and suggestions.
- Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mark DePue
Director of Oral History, ALPLM
112 North 6th Street
Springfield, IL 62701