2020 Conference Update and “Business Meeting”

We’d like to take a moment to update you on our 2020 conference planning.

As we announced on 3/9, the global COVID-19 pandemic forced us to cancel the annual meeting that was supposed to be held in Shepherdstown, WV, from March 13-14. We were able to refund all registration fees and are pleased to report that all of OHMAR’s conference expenses were also refunded. Enormous thanks are due to the conference chair, Mattea Sanders, for her incredible, year-long efforts organizing the conference and for the grace and efficiency with which she ultimately shut things down.

When we canceled the conference, we said that we would explore the possibility of rescheduling in the fall. We have since decided that, as an all-volunteer organization, it simply will not be feasible to run a rescheduled 2020 conference in the fall and then a 2021 conference in the spring. So, we look forward to seeing you all in the spring of 2021! Look out for additional information on our next annual meeting, to be released this fall.We encourage anyone who was going to present a paper at the 2020 conference in Shepherdstown to write about their work for our blog, or take over our Twitter account for a day. We’d love to help disseminate your work sooner rather than later! Contact OHMAR President Melissa Ziobro for more information. We also hope you will plan to attend the 2021 conference. Any papers accepted for the 2020 conference will automatically be accepted to the 2021 conference if you re-submit.

Since we won’t be having a 2020 conference, we’d like to address some of the topics that would have been covered at our awards lunch/business meeting.

In case you missed our 2020 award announcements, our winners were as follows:

Pogue Award:

Since 1979, OHMAR has recognized and promoted high standards in the field of oral history through the Pogue Award, an annual award for outstanding and continuing contributions to oral history. The award honors Forrest C. Pogue, who pioneered the use of oral history in combat during World War II and also served as an early president of the Oral History Association.

Our 2020 winners are Dr. Regina Akers of the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC), and Cdr. Paul Stillwell, who has been long associated with the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI). You can read more about their tremendous careers here.

Thank you to immediate past president David Caruso and all on the Pogue Award Nominating Committee for their work. 

Martha Ross Prize:

Throughout her career Martha Ross was instrumental in encouraging students and young professionals to practice oral history. As an educator, Martha believed that “We must be diligent in preparing and training as oral historians, so that our duty to capture and preserve an individual’s story contributes to and fosters the historical narrative.â€

Named in honor of our late founding member, OHMAR’s Martha Ross Prize is awarded annually to an undergraduate or graduate student creating original work in oral history. This award both recognizes the achievements of the student and the contributions to the field of oral history and provides financial assistance for the student’s current project. We are pleased to name Jessica R. M. Locklear as the 2020 recipient of the Marth Ross Memorial Prize for her project.

Jessica is a rising scholar and an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. She received undergraduate degrees in history and American Indian studies from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP) in 2017. She is currently a graduate student studying history with a concentration in public history at Temple University. Jessica was the 2019 Martin Levitt Fellow at the American Philosophical Society, where she digitized and created a digital exhibit on the lantern slides of the anthropologist, Frank Speck. Her master’s thesis focuses on the history of Lumbee migrations to Philadelphia after World War II and the community that was established there. Jessica started the Lumbees of Philadelphia project, in which she is collecting oral histories from the Lumbee community in Philadelphia, which will be donated to the Southern Oral History Program at UNC Chapel Hill.

Thanks to Development Director Samantha Blatt and all OHMAR board members for their work selecting the Martha Ross Prize winner.

At the 2021 meeting, we will celebrate both the 2020 and 2021 Pogue Award and Martha Ross Prize winners. 

OHMAR Leadership:

We have been advertising that we are in need of a new Vice-President, Secretary, Communications Director, Development Director, and several at-large board members as the terms of the current office holders were set to expire at our annual meeting. See more here. Since we did not have an annual meeting with elections, most of the current office holders have generously agreed to stay on until our next meeting. However, as our by-laws allow for emergency appointments under certain circumstances, current at-large board member Anna Kaplan, who had volunteered to run for vice-president, has been appointed to that position to fill the seat opened by Dr. Abigail Perkiss’s departure. We thank Abby for her many years of service to OHMAR and welcome Anna to her new role. 

Meave Warnock Sheehan had volunteered to fill an at-large board seat. She will be filling the seat vacated by Julie Rogers, effective immediately. Meave is currently completing an M.A. in Oral History at Columbia University. As part of this program, she has curated an audio exhibit on a maritime history topic, using audio recordings and transcribed interviews from archived collections at the Brooklyn Historical Society and the Hoboken Museum. Meave’s previous jobs have been in local journalism, education, and government. Last summer (2019), she was selected for and attended a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) workshop. She is a member of the Hudson County (NJ) Genealogical and Historical Society and the Archivists Roundtable of Metropolitan New York. Meave’s research interests include local history, labor history, radio history, and podcasting. We look forward to working with her!

If you are interested in a board position, please reach out to Melissa Ziobro. Since, as noted, our by-laws allow for emergency appointments under certain circumstances, if you are interested in serving you need not necessarily wait until next year.

OHMAR Strategic Plan:

In February, we shared a draft of our Strategic Plan 2020-2025. We asked folks to comment by March 7th. Feedback, while helpful, was minimal. We will consider the plan tentatively in place until the 2021 meeting, when a formal vote can take place. Thanks to Anna Kaplan and Molly Graham for their leadership on this initiative. 

That about covers it! We truly missed seeing everyone this year. All of us at OHMAR wish you peace of mind and good health during these trying times!