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From the Archives: Enhancing Access to the NBA Oral Histories

May 11, 2021

Penn Law Archives Intern, Kathryn Gstalder, describes her work on the National Bankruptcy Archives (NBA) Oral History Collection.

My name is Kathryn Gstalder. I am an intern working with Sarah Oswald, Archivist at the Biddle Law Library.

A few things about me:

  • I grew up in Toledo, a city in Northwest Ohio known as the Glass City.
  • In December of 2020, I finished my MLIS program which I completed through the iSchool at Wayne State University.
  • I worked at my school’s student bookstore throughout my undergraduate education at Ohio State University.
  • A book which I’ve recently enjoyed reading is Glittering Images, an art history book written by Camille Paglia.

National Bankruptcy Archives (NBA) Oral History Collection

My work has focused on providing greater searchability of, and access to, the National Bankruptcy Archives (NBA) Oral History Collection.

The National Bankruptcy Archives (NBA) Oral History Collection is a unique resource that documents the history of bankruptcy in America through first-person narrative accounts.

These interviews highlight the people, communities, and participants tied to past bankruptcy events. The NBA’s oral history holdings are composed of projects from 1993 to the present day.


My first assignment was to research metadata templates and create a template for the NBA oral histories.

Using Box, Sarah and I organized files in three areas—master files, project files, and access files. I developed file naming schemes for our master object files and access metadata files. Sarah uploaded master videos and audio clips to Box from YouTube. Transcripts were also housed in the master files folder. Using a spreadsheet, we tracked individual interviews’ workflow progress.

Below is an image from the NBA oral history interview with Norma Hamnes and Ike Shulman, co-founders of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA).

I screened the interviews to create the metadata. The metadata was compiled in a spreadsheet, saved as a text file, and added to our access metadata files. Below are metadata elements created for the NBA oral history interview with Judge Judith Jones:

Before ingesting the master object files and access metadata to CONTENTdm, I confirmed we had the interviewee’s signed release form on file. We ingested the items into the CONTENTdm Project Client to be approved and uploaded to the server. Once uploaded, the interviews became widely accessible through Biddle Law Library’s Digital Collections.

Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference Presentation

I created a poster presentation for the Spring 2021 Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference about how working remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic impacted  the project. View a recording of the conference presentations.

I’ve enjoyed diving into these oral histories and learning about the individuals involved in the field of bankruptcy law. Moving forward, I will be creating a manual for the collection, as well as continuing to add interviews.