Oral History Project

WBA Gathers Voices from Decades of Bar Leadership and Members
By Lorie Masters, Perkins Coie (WBA president 2007-2008); Laura Possessky, Gura & Possessky (WBA president 2012-2013); and Charlotte Kuenen, CFP®, Morgan Stanley
The WBA will celebrate its 100th anniversary on May 17, 2017. To prepare for that notable milestone and the various celebrations commemorating the bar’s founding 100 years ago, the WBA Centennial Committee has a number of important initiatives underway to capture and preserve its rich history.
Among its initiatives, the WBA plans to recognize and honor the contributions of hundreds of trailblazing members over the last century. In addition, the WBA is working to capture the voices of the many women who have given so much to the WBA and the profession, before those perspectives are lost forever. The Centennial’s Oral History subcommittee has already recorded two dozen oral histories of past WBA presidents, board members, and luminaries of the association. Volunteers are joining the effort, and the subcommittee plans to gather a total of 150 oral histories in time for the Centennial.
Oral histories are being collected at dedicated events for oral history gathering (see WBA calendar announcements) as well as before and after several other WBA events. You’ll have several opportunities to record your own oral history for the WBA’s Centennial and beyond.
The WBA oral history collection is being built one cell phone video at a time, with members recording each other for three to four minutes and sending the resulting phone video to the WBA office (technical help is available for recording and/or uploading the oral history recordings).
The oral histories recorded to date are inspiring to watch and hear. Each member recorded offers a unique and important message regarding her experience with the WBA and her contribution to its history. Many diverse voices show the evolution of the WBA over the years, how it has grown through the addition of many new committees and forums, and fabulous recent traditions like the Holiday Tea. In an important contribution to the history of women lawyers, the voices captured in our oral histories confirm the invaluable lessons that working in the legal profession has taught these amazing women among us.
The oral history effort will produce a living oral history collection that will become part of the WBA’s larger historical collection comprised of the WBA’s archive of historical documents, written, typed, and signed by our Founders and leaders over the decades, and which date back to a memorandum by Ellen Spencer Mussey calling for a formational meeting to establish a Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia. It also, when completed, will include WBA photographs, videos, newsletters, reports, and other records and memorabilia. The collection will preserve the many diverse observations, perspectives, lessons learned, and advice to the next generation from a diverse group of WBA members and leaders, past and present. It will be accessible to the wider bar community and to the public. The WBA plans to use excerpts from its oral history collection in a Centennial video that is being produced for the official celebration of the Centennial to be held May 17, 2017. 
To record your oral history at an upcoming WBA oral history event, or at another WBA occasion, or to volunteer for the oral history project, please contact one of the subcommittee chairs:
Charlotte Kuenen: 202-862-9046, 202-365-9438, charlotte.kuenen@morganstanley.com 
Sign up to record an oral history at one of our Oral History Days:

Dates coming soon-stay tuned!

Prepare yourself for your recording. Click here for a list of the questions from which you can choose to address.