Groundswell: Oral History for Social Change is a network of oral historians, activists, cultural workers, community organizers, and documentary artists that use oral history to further movement building and transformative social change. 

Our network grew out of an initial in-person gathering of 15 activist oral historians in the fall of 2011.  Today the Groundswell network includes hundreds of individuals from all across the United States, as well as from other countries.

Our Mission

We believe that oral history can be a source of power, knowledge and strength in our struggles for justice. Oral history provides a unique space for those most impacted by injustice to speak and be heard in our own voices. Groundswell's mission is to provide mutual support, training, and resources in the practice of applied, community-based oral history in order to build the creativity and power of social justice movements.

In seeking to create a supportive community we welcome practitioners of all skill levels and backgrounds. We believe that oral history is both an art and a skill demanding thoughtfulness, preparation, research, training, practice and a high degree of integrity and follow-through. We promote high standards of quality and celebrate the many forms in which movement-relevant oral history and storytelling work happens.

Our Principles:

  • We support our network to develop and share work that not only documents social movements, but also purposefully advances those movements.

  • We believe in the right to individual and collective self-determination. Those who are most affected by injustice ought to be at the forefront of movements for justice, speaking on our own behalf. We also support the significance of allies in these struggles.

  • We support effective and thoughtful partnerships and collaborations that contribute to amplifying unheard (or unlistened to) voices.

  • We appreciate the potential of oral history to offer individuals ample space to express the fullness of their identities, stories, reflections and experience.

  • We are committed to an anti-oppression practice in our work. Among other things, this means:

    • proactively challenging and working to dismantle systems of domination: racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism

    • rejecting the appropriation, commodification and exploitation of individuals’ and communities’ stories/histories

  • We believe that “shared authority” between interviewers and narrators extends beyond the interview itself and we uphold narrators’ role as co-creators of the work.

  • We commit to ongoing learning in and improvement of our practice.

Our Structure

Core Working Group
Groundswell’s Core Working Group (CWG) is Groundswell's primary decision-making and oversight body. The CWG is charged with supporting and overseeing Groundswell’s mission, structure and work plan.   Currently eight individuals serve on Groundswell’s Core Working Group: Alisa Del Tufo, Amaka Okechukwu, Fanny García, Maggie Von Vogt, Nissa Tzun, Shefa Nola Benoit, and Sarah K. Loose.

Groundswell Co-Coordinators Fanny García and Maggie Von Vogt serve as "bottom-liners" for the network as a whole, responsible for making sure that everyone else in the network (including CWG members and working group members) have the support and information they need in order to implement Groundswell's workplan and achieve our collective goals.  

To learn more about Groundswell: Oral History for Social Change and hear about our ongoing work, join the Groundswell E-mail Listserv.

Our Funders

Groundswell is a volunteer-powered network. We have a small budget that allows us to provide mini-stipends to our Co-Coordinators and cover basic tech costs. We are grateful for the support of our individual and organizational members, of Allied Media Projects (which serves as our Fiscal Sponsor), and of the RESIST foundation.