2020 Annual Conference Call for Papers and Designs

Conference Title: Stories at the Heart of Government: Politics and Oral History 

Conference Dates: March 13-14, 2020

Location: Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education, Shepherdstown, WV

Deadline for Submissions: November 15, 2019

Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region (OHMAR) invites paper and panel proposals for its 2020 Annual Meeting, “Stories at the Heart of Government: Politics and Oral History.” Papers and panels need not be related to this theme in order to be considered. The conference will be held at the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education from March 13-14, 2020, jointly with the Annual Meeting for the Society for History in the Federal Government. 

This year’s theme explores the way individuals shape the government from within, from without, and how the government impacts people’s lives. Questions to consider include: how do government organizations decide how to build and maintain their oral history collections to tell all stories related to organizations? How do we conduct oral histories with leaders while they are still working in the political arena? What can we learn from the oral histories of activists and how they change the work of governments? What issues do government organizations encounter in conducting oral histories of individuals in their organization? How are non-government organizations, and individuals, using oral history to document how the government has impacted them? We encourage participation by both interviewers and narrators. 

OHMAR encourages presenters to interpret the conference theme creatively in the context of their own work and community projects. This year, we will, as usual, run concurrent panel sessions; however we plan to dedicate one track to papers related to the theme “Politics and Oral History.” The second concurrent track will accept papers related to any oral history work being done by practitioners located in the Mid-Atlantic Region, or the subject of which is the Mid-Atlantic Region. Proposals for this track are not beholden to the overall conference theme. 

Possible themed topics may include:

  • Oral histories of elected leaders
  • Oral histories of workers in and around the Federal, State, and Local Government
  • Oral histories of those working in the political arena
  • Oral histories of activists and community organizers 
  • Censorship of oral histories 
  • Security classification and oral histories

Application Guidelines:

The program committee invites proposals for panels or roundtables, as well as for individual papers. We encourage proposals from students and early career oral historians, and we welcome presentations that feature audio-visual components. We also welcome proposals for alternative session types, including experiential modules, “point-counterpoint” debates, and community viewpoints comprising the narrators and interviewers of an oral history project. 

Individual paper/presentation proposals should include a brief abstract of 250-500 words, a biographical summary about the author, and contact information. Roundtable proposals should include a 250-500 word abstract of the roundtable topic, a brief biographical summary for each invited participant, and contact information. Panel proposals should include a broad description of the panel theme and brief abstracts of 150-200 words for each paper.

OHMAR also encourages poster submissions, comprising a 200-300 word abstract, a brief biographical summary of the creator, and the creator’s contact information. Posters can be no larger than 36” x 48” and presenters may also use multimedia options (e.g., oral history recordings or GIS “Story Maps”) as a complement (presenters must bring their own technology).  

The deadline for all submissions is November 15, 2019. All submissions should be emailed with attachments to ohmar.conference@gmail.com. Please feel free to contact us at that email address at any time with questions.


OHMAR also invites proposals for the 2020 conference program cover design! The prize for the winning design is free conference registration, including lunch at the Pogue Award luncheon.

Design Submission Requirements:

letter size (i.e., 8.5” x 11”)
include OHMAR logo (large)
include conference titleconference dates and locationinclude social media info: (@OHMidAtlantic #OHMAR2020)include OHMAR’s website: http://ohmar.orgsubmitted as a PDF
Submission Deadline: November 15, 2019