From 80 to 54,000: Streaming access skyrockets visits to the OHAM collection

  • Woman with long reddish hair and glasses sits across from man with short dark hair and black and white striped top. Table between them has papers and a tape recorder on surface.
    Interview session with composer-guitarist Bryce Dessner
September 6, 2023

Since 1969, Yale’s Oral History in American Music (OHAM) project has collected and preserved interviews with major figures in American music, including significant composers, jazz musicians, and—most recently, through collaborations with Yale’s Music and the Black Church initiative—gospel musicians.

In 2020, users began to have streaming access to the more than 3,000 interviews and audio and video recordings in the collection. 

“In the days prior to streaming access,” said OHAM Director Libby Van Cleve, “we had about eighty intrepid souls each year who showed up to study OHAM transcripts and recordings. I used to lament that so few people seemed interested in hearing the voice of the interviewee; instead, most only wanted the transcript.  Because of that, I didn’t push for streaming access, but nonetheless, the library made it a priority. 

“Well, boy was I wrong!  Times have changed, and so has the openness to non-literary forms of education. We went from eighty researchers a year to more than fifty-four-thousand streams this past year.”

Since the videorecording was uploaded in April, the live interview with the Clark Sisters, a renowned quartet of gospel singers, conducted by Ambre Dromgoole, PhD ’23, was streamed more than 38,000 times. 

Jonathan Manton, director of digital special collections and access at Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, reports that from July 1, 2022, to July 1, 2023, OHAM materials have been streamed at the rate of approximately 1,500 per month.

OHAM is a special collection in the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library. All materials are preserved at the highest archival standards to ensure long-term preservation and access.

Search OHAM’s entire collection. Yale users can immediately access the material.  Non-Yale patrons can create a free Aviary account via the Login button to gain streaming access. 

—Deborah Cannarella

Image: OHAM Director Libby Van Cleve interviewing American composer and guitarist Bryce Dessner, member of the rock band the National. Stream his interview.