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Edmon Low Library

Mary Larson

Author of "Shifting the Balance of Power: Oral History and Public History in the Digital Era"

February 7, 2023

Mary Larson is the Associate Dean for Distinctive Collections at the Oklahoma State University Library and a former president of the Oral History Association (US). Having earned her MA and PhD in anthropology from Brown University, she has worked as an oral historian for over thirty years, starting with the programs at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Nevada, Reno before moving to Oklahoma in 2009. Much of her research has revolved around the intersection of oral history and digital technology, and in 2014 she co-edited a book on that topic with Doug Boyd (Oral History and Digital Humanities: Voice, Access, and Engagement, Palgrave Macmillan). Some of her other writing has focused on under-representation of women and minority groups in the cultural and historical record as well as ethics and the implications that technology has for oral history practice.

Oral history and public history have been interconnected for many years, sharing multiple points of commonality including a frequent interest in documenting under-documented communities. Both have brought different strengths to the table in their intersections, but it has been the digital turn in method and practice that has allowed these two areas of interest to complement each other most fully. Digital technologies have allowed oral history finally to be more fully public, and they have encouraged public history further towards the collaborative approach that oral history has often taken, fulfilling long-time aspirations on the part of both groups. The overall result of this evolution is a more holistic and contextualized treatment of the historical record along with a shift in power dynamics tantamount to the beginning of the “Shared Authority” movement. Read more in "Shifting the Balance of Power: Oral History and Public History in the Digital Era" by Mary Larson. 


Last Updated: 8 March 2023