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The Columbia Center for Oral History's Popular Arts Project

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hbenthow
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The Columbia Center for Oral History's Popular Arts Project

Postby hbenthow » November 14th, 2012, 1:40 pm

Is anyone here familiar with the The Columbia Center for Oral History? I happened across their website a while back, and discovered a collection of in-depth interviews of various people involved in some way or another with popular arts, including a great deal of actors, directors, and other people involved in filmmaking, such as Frank Capra, Jackie Cooper, Buster Keaton, and dozens more. The interviews were from the Popular Arts Project, an oral history project which lasted from 1958 to 1960. I had never heard of these interviews before; I suppose they could be considered obscure.

I recently purchased a transcript of one of their interviews (they are quite affordable, just 10 cents a page plus shipping, which came out to $7.60 for the 61-page interview I bought), and was very impressed. It not only contained a lot of information about the interviewee, but also a great deal of first-hand knowledge about classic Hollywood, and some interesting thoughts and observations. Since the information is first-hand, it provides a certain type of insight that a historian couldn't provide.

Here's the page for the project:

http://oralhistoryportal.cul.columbia.edu/document.php?id=ldpd_4072546

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MissGoddess
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Re: The Columbia Center for Oral History's Popular Arts Project

Postby MissGoddess » November 14th, 2012, 5:34 pm

How intriguing! So can you read (preview) any of these online or do you have to purchase them sight unseen? They certainly have an impressive collection.
"There's only one thing that can kill the movies, and that's education."
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hbenthow
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Re: The Columbia Center for Oral History's Popular Arts Project

Postby hbenthow » November 14th, 2012, 6:26 pm

It's only possible to purchase them sight unseen. There's no way to preview them online. The web page for each interview does have a brief synopsis of what's covered in it, though.

If you'd like to see some samples of the one I bought, I could show you a few parts of it. (I've already posted a few bits from it in another thread.)

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Professional Tourist
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Re: The Columbia Center for Oral History's Popular Arts Project

Postby Professional Tourist » November 14th, 2012, 8:28 pm

hbenthow, thank you for bringing this resource to our attention. I might be interested in some of the interviews of the Mercury Theater project. The ones I've looked at, though, have no brief synopses and I cannot find any way to order copies of the transcripts. Can you share some more details on how this web site works?

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hbenthow
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Re: The Columbia Center for Oral History's Popular Arts Project

Postby hbenthow » November 14th, 2012, 8:42 pm

They don't have an online ordering system or regular order forms. Instead, to order a transcript, you send them a piece of paper with the name of the project (such as the Popular Arts Project), the title of the particular transcript you wish to order, and your address, and enclose a check for the cost of the transcript plus shipping. You might also be able to order by phone, I'm not sure. They accept credit cards as well as checks, but with a credit card, the minimum purchase is $20. With a check, there is no minimum. I called them before sending them the paper and the check, so as to make sure of the cost and all the necessary details.

They have a phone number, where you can call and they will give you any information you need:

(212) 854-7083

Their address is:

Columbia Center for Oral History
535 West 114th Street
801 Butler Library, Box 20
MC1129
New York, NY 10027


They also have an email address:

oralhist@libraries.cul.columbia.edu

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Professional Tourist
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Re: The Columbia Center for Oral History's Popular Arts Project

Postby Professional Tourist » November 14th, 2012, 8:50 pm

Hmmm, no instant gratification on this one. :P
Thanks, I may try telephoning or emailing them (oralhist@libraries.cul.columbia.edu).


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