The Voice of Witness (VOW) book series takes a humanizing, literary approach to oral history to illuminate the stories of people impacted by contemporary injustice in the US and globally.

VOW books have featured a diversity of voices and issues, including wrongfully convicted Americans, undocumented immigrants, and people living under oppressive regimes in Burma, Zimbabwe and Colombia. Moving forward, our books will focus on communities impacted by issues of criminal justice and migration & displacement.

Our books are read by readers of all stripes—from students to activists to policymakers—and are taught worldwide in courses as disparate as social studies, constitutional law, comparative literature, Middle East Studies, and restorative justice.

Learn more about our oral history book series and how you can apply to develop a project with VOW.


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Editor: Sara Sinclair

What is it like to be a citizen of a nation within another nation whose dominant social, political, and economic interests are fundamentally at odds with your own?

Native people have been moved off their land, assimilated, and even killed. Meanwhile, narratives in which indigenous peoples are invisible continue to facilitate their displacement. North American historical accounts too often exclude indigenous peoples, treating them as peripheral to the continent’s history. In reality, centuries of policies designed to demolish tribal governments and identities have left Native people throughout the United States and Canada reeling.

The stories in How We Go Home aim to open readers’ eyes to the myriad human rights violations experienced in Indian Country today. Narrators provide insight into life in urban settings and on reservations: the connection between people and their ancestral lands; the collective heritage of displacement and forced assimilation carried in the people’s collective memory; and the on-going human rights violations rampant in Indian Country. Despite the dire conditions that many Native North Americans live in, these interviews illuminate Native society’s incredible capacity for resistance, for healing, and for survival.

Read an op-ed by the editor in Salon.

Read a Q&A with the editor.

Sara Sinclair is an oral historian of Cree-Ojibway, German Jewish, and British descent, and a graduate of Columbia University’s Oral History Master of Arts program.

Editor: Ricia Chansky

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane María battered Puerto Rico for over twenty-two hours. The real catastrophe, however, seems to be the ways in which the people of Puerto Rico have been ignored in its aftermath.

Since the hurricane, the abject lack of U.S. government support has left many on the island without electricity, clean drinking water, food, and medical care. Nine months later, the island remains shattered.

Mi María brings together stories of survival and community with an interrogation of the politics of citizenry rooted in the history of Puerto Rico and the United States, and exemplified by the lack of support offered in the aftermath of this disaster.

Ricia Chansky is an Associate Professor of literature at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez. An essential part of this will be training 100 of her students to be conscientious, ethical oral historians who will collect narratives for the project from their home communities.

Read more about the project on our blog.


Editor: Katrina Powell

Refugee stories do not end once they’ve reached a host country. In fact, that is often just the beginning of their journey.

Resettled tells the untold stories of displacement, trauma, and community integration in an area not known for its resettlement efforts: Rural Appalachia.

Between xenophobic rhetoric, decreasing funds for resettlement, and a continued focus on rural Appalachia as a place of poverty and strife, understanding these stories is critically important. This project will place the “refugee narrative” alongside the “Appalachian narrative” to provide a greater understanding of the benefits and challenges of welcoming new neighbors in the region.

Katrina Powell is Professor of Rhetoric at Virginia Tech and is trained in oral history methodology at the Columbia University Oral History Institute. She has conducted several oral history projects in the U.S. and Sri Lanka, and has also published several books and articles using oral history methodology and analysis.

Read more in our editor Q&A.


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If you are interested in supporting a specific project, please contact Voice of Witness Executive Director Mimi Lok.