Collecting First-Generation Voices in Academic Libraries and Archives

Graham et al. / College & Research Libraries / January 2021

two students standing and reading in library

First-generation college students have a profound impact both inside and outside the classroom on the strategic goals of universities, yet in-depth, firsthand information about their experiences are difficult for researchers and university administrators to find. Oral histories are a data-rich method of collecting narratives that legitimize the perspectives of underrepresented communities whose stories are often absent from the written record. This article provides a brief overview of first-generation populations, a review of literature relating to the increasing involvement of libraries and archives in capturing and preserving the stories of underdocumented communities in the twenty-first century, and shares three case studies of first-generation initiatives at public universities in California, Colorado, and Nebraska.