Oral History Collections


In 1970, members of the Tempe Historical Society began taping interviews with some of the oldest long-time residents of Tempe. This effort to preserve the community's remembered history was bolstered by an intensive oral history project funded by the City of Tempe in 1987. Volunteers and interns under the direction of Dr. Kristina Minister conducted twenty interviews, which were recorded on both videotape and audio cassettes, and were fully transcribed. In 1992, the Tempe Oral History Project was reestablish as an ongoing function of the Tempe History Museum. Since 1992, interviews have been recorded on audio cassettes only. 
Since 1992, the Tempe Oral History Project has focused on specific topics, including:

  • Hispanic Families and the Barrios of Tempe
  • Mayors, City Council Members and City Administrators
  • Tempe High Schools
  • High School and College Football
  • The Niels Petersen House
  • Tempe Fire Department

    Barrios oral histories

    The Tempe History Museum appreciates the efforts of the many volunteers and interns who have helped conduct interviews for the Tempe Oral History Project.

    In 1992, research at the Tempe Historical Museum focused on the history of Hispanic families in the Tempe area since 1870, in preparation for an exhibit, "The Barrios," which opened in October, 1992. After the first phase of research, it was evident that documentation on the history of Hispanic people in central Arizona was virtually non-existent. The compilation of research materials in this area has continued through the Tempe Oral History Project. With the cooperation of the Barrios Exhibit Advisory Committee and Los Amigos de Tempe, the Tempe Historical Museum maintains an ongoing project to locate and interview members of Hispanic families from Tempe. In addition, numerous supporting documents have been collected, including genealogies and photographs.

    The Tempe Barrios Oral History Project is a compilation of a series of 10 interviews. The reference materials for each oral history include unedited audio cassette tapes of the interview, a typed transcript, a brief biography of the narrator, and a summary of the topics discussed. There are two indexes to this research collection -- an abridged index of general topics and a more detailed index which includes most references to specific people, places, events, and organizations. This research collection as a whole provides a valuable resource for understanding the experiences of Hispanic people in central Arizona. It should be of interest to the serious researcher as well as the general public.

    The transcription and compilation of these oral history interviews was completed in 1996 with the support of a grant from the Arizona Humanities Council.

    Project Director:
    Scott Solliday, Curator of History (1991-1999)