Oral History Project

The Columbia University Seminar on Death celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2021. To commemorate this milestone, we produced an extensive Oral History Project (OHP) as a reflective retrospective of the Seminar’s proceedings and evolution. 

In 1971, Dr. Austin Kutscher initiated the Seminar on Death to explore the subject of death and dying at a time when discussion of the topic was largely taboo. During the past half-century, the Seminar has investigated the field of thanatology, recording and reflecting contemporary scholarly and public approaches to death, as well as advocating for a more open attitude to the subject. This series of interviews with past and current chairs, members, associates, rapporteurs, and recurring speakers chronicle the Seminar’s journey, complementing the archival minutes of the Seminar meetings. 

Recordings with transcripts of this Oral History Project will be housed in the University Seminars archive, as well as in the Oral History Archives at Columbia's Rare Book and Manuscript Library, providing access to this rich material to future scholars. Expected deposit is June 2022.  We thank the OHP committee for the time and care that was devoted to this meaningful project.