Iranian Oral History Project Gets an Update

February 11, 2019
Iranian Oral History update

The Iranian Oral History Project, launched in 1981 at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and directed by Habib Ladjevardi, recorded the personal accounts of 134 individuals who played major roles in or were eyewitnesses to important political events in Iran from the 1920s to the 1980s. This unique resource, available through Harvard Library, provides scholars and practitioners the opportunity to listen to and read the personal accounts of many of Iran’s former political leaders as they recall the times and events that shaped their lives and the life of their country.

“The interviews were originally recorded on cassette tapes, now held at the Harvard Depository, and paper transcripts, now at Houghton Library,” says Matthew C. Smith, Persian Cataloger at Widener Library. “As streaming technology became available, the recordings were digitized and, along with scans of the transcripts, made publically available via the internet.”

Over time, however, due to changing technology, the audio files became difficult or impossible to access, and the technical platform used to maintain the collection database needed to be replaced. So the decision was made to transition to the Library’s new digital collection platform, CURIOSity.

Marilyn Rackley, Aeon Project Manager and Digital Librarian, oversaw the transition. The technical work was done by Library Technical Services, where Metadata Analyst Robin Wendler worked on formatting the data for the new interface.

“The Iranian Oral History Project is one of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Divisions’s most popular online resources,” says Smith. “I regularly field questions about it from students and scholars around the world, so we’re really pleased that it is once again accessible.” Visit the collection at