Above all, credit for this Guide belongs to University Archives Graduate Assistants Karen "Lisa" Schnell and Linda Tatman. Lisa began the tedious work of compiling abstracts of oral history memoirs in the spring of 1993; Linda took over the project in the fall of 1994, and finished the task of abstracting in the spring of 1996. Both worked on other time-consuming projects concurrently with this one. I owe both my sincerest gratitude for their wonderful dedication to this often unrewarding but essential task. I also thank other University Archives student assistants, Sharon Barnes and David Bowlby, for their help in the final editing and proofreading of the Guide.
Thanks also to Edward Wass, University Librarian and Dean of Library Services, for locating the funds to publish the original paper edition of the Guide, and for keeping me focussed on the task of completing it. For the cover design, many thanks go to Curt Neitzke of Library Media Services.
I also thank Eugenia Eberle for continuing to produce new oral histories for the collection on a volunteer basis. Since 1991, when the University Archives received this oral history collection, our priority has been to maintain bibliographic control of it, and to provide reference service for it. But Eugenia has done her part (and more) to ensure that this has remained an active collection.
Of course, the fundamental purpose of this Guide is to promote the use of our oral history collection, which would not exist without the direction and fundraising wizardry of Cullom Davis, and the painstaking labors of twenty years of Oral History Office staff and student assistants (listed in the Foreword to this publication). Other major contributors to the collection include the Oral History Research Office of Columbia University, John Knoepfle, the Moweaqua Coal Mine Museum, and dozens of other individuals and students from Dr. Davis's oral history classes.
But even deeper gratitude belongs to the hundreds of people -- coal miners, politicians, farm women, veterans, immigrants, so many others -- who committed their memories and life experiences to tape and to paper. Without these most precious resources, none of this would be possible. Our oral history collection and this Guide are of them, by them, and for them.Thomas J. Wood
University of Illinois at Springfield
June 18, 1996