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Bette Weidman Oral History Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: SCA-0018

Scope and Contents

English Professor Bette Weidman taught a number of courses over her career at Queens College which centered oral history methodologies and assignments. Topics included women's experiences, immigrant experiences, and the history of Queens College. The collection contains interviews (audio cassette tapes, digital files, and/or transcripts); course documentation such as syllabi, instructional materials, student work, and interview consent forms; administrative papers; reference materials; and a a large poster gifted to Bette from her students "For Our Oral History Mentor: A Bit of Visual History With Many Thanks - English 396; 1987."


  • 1980-2014


Most of the materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Permissions documentation will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis prior to providing access to any interview transcript or audio file in this collection.

Student work in the collection is restricted under the the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.


The Bette Weidman Papers are physically owned by the Queens College Libraries. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assignees. The collection is subject to all copyright laws. Queens College assumes no responsibility for the infringement of copyrights held by the original authors, creators, or producers of materials.

Biographical Note

Dr. Bette Weidman was Associate Professor of English and Director of the American Studies Program at Queens College. She began her career in the school in 1969 as a specialist in 19th-century American literature, and was introduced to the field of oral history by her faculty mentor, Dr. Helene Brewer. Before joining the Queens faculty, Brewer had been a founding member of the Regional Oral History Office at the University of California, Berkeley.

In 1978, at Brewer’s suggestion, Weidman took a training course in conducting oral history interviews at Columbia University with Dr. Louis Starr, director of Columbia’s Oral History Research Office. Excited about this growing field of inquiry, Weidman tried to establish a course in oral history at Queens but was met with a lack of enthusiasm. Instead, she began incorporating oral interview assignments into her regular American Studies and Women’s Studies courses as well as the English department elective, The Immigrant Experience. She also offered several oral history workshop classes as Special Studies courses in the English department.

In the 1990s, Weidman met Queens College Higher Education Officer Sydney Lefkoe who shared her interest in oral history. In 2003, they collaborated on a project to videotape interviews with 50-year alumni who returned to campus to be recognized at Commencement. Eighteen members of the class of 1953 were interviewed for the project.

The interviews in this collection are drawn from several of Weidman’s classes. The bulk currently comes from a Fall 1987 English department course; a grant-funded Women’s Oral History Project, conducted in 1992; and a collaborative oral history course taught in Spring 2012. More recordings will be added to the collection on an ongoing basis.


3 Linear Feet (2 records cartons of audiocassettes and paper files; one flat box which holds a poster)

286 Digital Files

39.6 Gigabytes


This collection contains physical and digital items related to several oral history projects and courses conducted by Dr. Bette Weidman, professor of English at Queens College, between 1980 and 2012.


The audiocassettes and related paper materials are arranged alphabetically by interview subject’s last name. The digital files are sorted into folders, also arranged by subject’s name.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Due to the fragile nature of magnetic tape, archives staff will provide researchers access to the digitized versions of the recordings unless the researcher has a specific reason to access the cassette tape.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Bette Weidman in pieces from 2009 to 2019.

Processing Information

This collection contains items in several different formats. Original audiocassette tapes of earlier interviews, along with related paper materials, are housed in an archival box. Digital copies of the tapes, as well as born-digital interviews, are stored on the server at the Queens College Libraries’ Department of Special Collections and Archives. Some interviews have associated content outlines, which are also stored on the server. The physical items and digital files are accessible to researchers on-site. In addition, selections of some interviews are publicly available via the Queens Memory Project on Aviary

Bette Weidman Papers
Processed by Lori A. Wallach. Spring 2014, edited and approved by Alexandra Dolan-Mescal, Spring 2014. Machine readable finding aid created by Dan Brenner, Spring 2014. New material processed and finding aid revised by Jeanie Pai and Annie Tummino, Spring 2020.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Queens College (New York, N.Y.) Special Collections and Archives Repository

Queens College Library, CUNY
Benjamin Rosenthal Library RO317
65-30 Kissena Boulevard
Flushing 11367 USA us