Voice of Witness oral history books

Oral History Book Series

The Voice of Witness book series amplifies the stories of people directly impacted by—and fighting against—injustice. We use an ethics-driven oral history methodology that combines journalistic integrity and an engaging, literary approach. Each project aims to transform harmful narratives by supporting historically marginalized or silenced communities to tell their own stories in their own words.

The series explores issues of inequity and human rights through the lens of personal narrative. These oral history books have featured a diversity of voices, including those of incarcerated people, undocumented immigrants, agricultural workers, Indigenous peoples, communities displaced from public housing, and more. The first-person narratives highlight crucial issues of injustice and expose the impacts of harmful narratives and policies, laying the groundwork to build solidarity and movements for change. 

VOW narratives meet a high editorial and literary standard, are rigorously fact-checked, and are supported by appendices that provide contextual information on key structural and systemic factors.

Our oral history books are read by readers of all stripes—from students to policymakers—and are taught worldwide in courses as disparate as social studies, constitutional law, ethnic studies, comparative literature, and public policy.

Our New Book

Beginning Again: Stories of Movement and Migration in Appalachia

This project brings together narratives of refugees, migrants, and generations-long residents that explore complex journeys of resettlement. In their stories, Appalachia is not simply a monolithic region of poverty and strife, populated only by white people. It is a diverse place where belonging and connection are created despite displacement, resource extraction, and inequality. Taken together, the stories collected here present a nuanced look at life in contemporary Appalachia.

Released in June 2024

Beginning Again: Stories of Movement and Migration in Appalachia

Explore the Series

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Dive Deeper

Upcoming Book Projects

Using an approach that promotes dignity, collaboration, and equity, we believe the path to transformational change begins by centering and amplifying historically silenced voices. Each new project supports communities to document and preserve oral histories and advance narrative change.

students reading oral history books in class

Educator Resources

Voice of Witness offers interdisciplinary, Common Core-aligned curricula to accompany all the books in our series. Lesson plans are free and available for download on our website. VOW oral histories resonate deeply with students, inspiring learning, empathy, and action.

VOW Book Clubs

Create your own Voice of Witness book club to read, discuss, and learn from these vital, and often unheard, stories. These clubs build community and can take many different forms. Check out our free guidance and discussion questions to get started.

Learn More

voice of witness oral history books
Order Books
View instructions for single or bulk orders available from our publishing partners at Haymarket and Verso Books.
VOW Reader
Get to know the books through the Voice of Witness Reader, which has a varied selection of oral history narratives from the first ten years of VOW books.
Sustain the Stories
VOW’s oral history work is only possible thanks to passionate people like you. Will you join us in supporting in-depth human rights storytelling?

To read a Voice of Witness book is to feel one’s habitual sense of disconnection begin to fall away.

George Saunders
author and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient

Read an Oral History Excerpt

“We worked hard to make it a home. We gave up everything to be there. And then we got pushed out. It felt like I was being robbed.” In Jasilyn’s narrative in How We Go Home: Voices from Indigenous North America, she shares her experiences organizing youth at Standing Rock and kickstarting a global movement.