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Representing a shift in archival methods, oral history is increasingly used alongside more traditional methods of documentation to capture institutional and community histories. In this article, the authors demonstrate how the Student Help Lived Experience Project at the Queens College Library’s Special Collections and Archives (SCA) provided a vital supplement to more traditional methods of archival documentation. SCA was able to leverage resources provided by a partnering organization and a newly established graduate fellowship to bolster its relationship with other entities on campus and to engage alumni in a participatory, collaborative effort that centered their knowledge and interests. This article highlights models and lessons from the project and explores how oral histories collected for the project amplify existing collections in the archives. The authors found that revisiting collections through oral histories introduced nuance and complexity not available in the physical collections. The oral histories collected for the project enriched the historical narrative, bringing into vivid relief an important chapter in civil rights and Queens College history by uncovering personal motivations, details, and life lessons of interest to a wide audience of archives users.


Tummino, A. & Fernandez, V. (2023). Amplifying Civil Rights Collections with Oral Histories: A Collaboration with Alumni at Queens College, City University of New York. Archival Issues 42(1), 7-28. doi:



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