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Indigenous Peoples of the United States Oral Histories

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In 1966, Doris Duke, a well-known philanthropist and heiress of the North Carolina Duke family, funded a project to collect oral histories from American Indian individuals. Seven universities were chosen to participate. The project was funded at most of these universities through 1972. Some continued beyond that date. Over 5000 oral histories were collected under this project.

The concept behind the Duke project was to gather information from those who had experienced life on reservations, those who had attended Indian schools, and those who had been involved with Indian affairs in the United States. Copies of the information gathered through this project were to be made available to the participating universities and to the tribes of those being interviewed. These oral histories were collected by graduate students, professors, and researchers, both Indian and non-Indian.

Most of the interviews have been transcribed. Some of the universities involved have made copies of their transcripts available online. Others have at least posted a list of the interviews available at their institution. In a few cases, other oral histories have been collected outside of the Doris Duke Project. And a few other universities have gathered oral histories under their own programs.

The universities involved in the Duke Project and links to the oral histories collected by them are as follows:

  • University of Arizona
The Arizona State Museum at the University of Arizona is the repository for about 800 recordings regarding the American Indians of Arizona. About 60% of the collection are from the Doris Duke Collection. The holdings of the Arizona State Museum are described online.