The mission of the MVM Oral History Center is to promote the preservation and collection of Vineyard history, past and present, through recorded oral history interviews and related materials. The center was established at the Museum in 1993. It now contains over 1,400 interviews of Vineyard people conducted over the past forty years. The archive of tapes, transcripts, and photos is housed at the Museum. Reference copies of the master tapes and transcripts are available in the Gale Huntington Library for researchers.
Anthropologists and historians have long regarded individual oral testimonies to be a key factor in shaping a shared memory and identity. An understanding of the values and decision made in the past are of great importance. The recorded memories and observations of various Vineyarders in the MVM Oral History Center deepen our understanding and appreciation of the past, broaden our awareness of the unique qualities of the Vineyard, and inform our individual and collective decisions regarding the Island. Oral histories are integrated into many of the Museum exhibits to enhance and enrich the visitor's experience.
Press play to listen to Leonard Vanderhoop talk about Wampanoag use of local plants for herbal medicines.
For more Oral History Excerpts, visit our YouTube Channel.
Oral History Curator Linsey Lee has published two volumes of Vineyard Voices: Words, Faces and Voices of Island People, which each contain interviews and black and white photographs of 75 Island people. Purchase Vineyard Voices and More Vineyard Voices in our Museum Shop today. Most recently, the Museum has also published a collection of oral histories and photographs from the popular World War II exhibit entitled Those Who Serve: Martha's Vineyard and World War II. Those Who Serve was also made into an online exhibit which you can explore here.
Interview and Volunteer Opportunities
The Oral History Center welcomes new additions to its collection of audio and video oral histories. If you are interested in donating materials, please visit our Collection Development page. The Center also welcomes volunteers. Please visit our Volunteers page for more information.