The Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling (COHDS) is a university-community research centre located at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. COHDS is home to an archive containing over 1500 oral history interviews. Most interviews are in French or English, and almost all our archival materials are digital files. From the perspective of the individual interviewee, these audio and video recordings discuss subjects such as urban and labour history, forced migration and immigration, race relations, war, mass violence, and experiences of gender, embodiment, and sexuality. There is also a growing number of interviews that explore art and research-creation.
Our archive is stored on a server that is separate from the Concordia University server, to preserve the anonymity and privacy of the interviewees. Typically, researchers who use our collection are university professors, students, or community historians. Our mandate is to encourage people outside academia to use our collection, too. Thus any member of the public may request to consult our archival holdings.
That said, due to the sensitivity of some material, there are some restrictions on what can be accessed and for what purpose.
First, anyone who wishes to access our collection must first agree in writing to respect COHDS’s ethics regulations. The key ethics regulation is interviewee confidentiality, meaning the level of confidentiality that the interviewee gave to their recorded words and memories at the time of either recording an interview (ie the consent form), or at the moment of donating their interview to COHDS (donation agreement). Every interview archived at COHDS is assigned a level of restriction in accordance with the stated wishes of the interviewee regarding confidentiality and future use. One of COHDS’s central mandates is to maintain and protect donated interviews according to these wishes. As such, we reserve the right to deny access to certain interviews when we deem this to be in keeping with the interviewee’s wishes. The COHDS archivist is available from September through to May to help researchers understand our collection as well as any restrictions placed on interviews. Please visit our Ethics page for more information about how we respect ethics and the confidentiality of interviewees.
Second, researchers must sign an access agreement agreeing to respect the above conditions of use before any access can be given. This agreement provides further information about how researchers may access our archival materials.
The COHDS archival collection is at present accessible by appointment on site at the Centre’s location on the downtown Concordia University campus (Webster Library Building, 10th Floor, Room LB-1042, 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd West, Montreal). Individuals wishing to consult our collection should first familiarize themselves with our collections, found here, and contact the Archivist to start their research process. Please see our Contact Us link.
Some interviews have been made available online through our Vimeo account. Please consult the Archival Holdings Overview found in the Collections tab to see which collections currently have interviews available for online consultation. Please note – these interviews are password protected. Access is granted following contact with the Archivist.