The Smithsonian Institution Archives (SIA) began its Oral History Program in 1973. The purpose of the program is to supplement the written documentation of the Archives' record and manuscript collections with an Oral History Collection, focusing on the history of the Institution, research by its scholars, and contributions of its staff. Program staff conduct interviews with current and retired Smithsonian staff and others who have made significant contributions to the Institution. There are also reminiscences and interviews recorded by researchers or students on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the American Association of Museums (AAM) and the 30th anniversary of the Museum Studies Department, The George Washington University, oral history interviews were videotaped with eleven of the AAM's Centennial Honor Roll honorees as a part of a special Museum Studies graduate seminar taught by Smithsonian Institution Archives historian, Pamela M. Henson. Interviews were recorded in digital video and deposited in the Smithsonian Institution Archives Oral History Collection.
The AAM Centennial Honorees that were interviewed were Nina M. Archabal, Director of the Minnesota Historical Society; Rebecca A. Buck, Chief Registrar, The Newark Museum; Lonnie G. Bunch, Director, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution; Robert R. Macdonald, former Director, Museum of the City of New York; Marie C. Malaro, former Smithsonian Institution General Counsel and former Director, Museum Studies Department, The George Washington University; Kathleen McLean, Principal, Independent Exhibitions; Keith E. Melder, former Curator, National Museum of American History; Harold K. Skramstad, former Director, Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village; Kathy Dwyer Southern, Director, National Children's Museum; James M. Vaughn, Vice President, Stewardship of Historic Sites, National Trust for Historic Preservation; and W. Richard West, Director, National Museum of the American Indian. The interviews document their careers and reflections on the museum profession.
Graduate students Melanie M. Blanchard, Lauren A. Boegen, Reagan M. Furrow, Natascha L. Guluk, Heather T. Hawkins, Arthur Kim, Anthony Sankston Wallace, Elizabeth A. Pierson, Erica I. Nuckles, and Kimberly I. Robinson, from the GWU Museum Studies Program and the course instructor, SIA Historian Pamela M. Henson, conducted the interviews.
These interviews discuss their careers as outstanding museum professionals.
The AAM Centennial Interviews consist of 13.0 hours of digital video interviews and 379 pages of transcript. The original digital video files are preserved in security storage with Windows Media Video files available for reference.