Holly Werner-Thomas is a writer and oral historian whose practice is grounded in historical scholarship and current events, but who has a passion for true stories no matter the topic. She is a graduate of the Oral History Master of Arts program at Columbia University, where she initiated an ongoing effort to capture the stories of gun violence victims (“The 40 Percent Project: An Oral History of Gun Violence in America”), which will be housed at the Columbia Center for Oral History Archives (CCOHA) starting in 2022. She wrote a documentary play based on the interviews, The Survivors, which won the Columbia University 2020 Jeffrey H. Brodsky Oral History Award. (In an effort to amplify both the project and the play, Holly presented at the annual OHA conference in Montreal in October 2018 and again as part of OHMA’s Workshop Series in February 2021 alongside four gun violence survivors.)
Holly was on an influential Oral History Association panel, “Is Oral History White? Investigating Race in Three Baltimore Oral History Projects” in October 2020, out of which grew a symposium that she initiated and co-chaired entitled, “Assessing the Role of Race and Power in Oral History Theory and Practice,” in collaboration with the Oral History Association and the Oral History Center at UC Berkeley, and alongside renowned oral historian Linda Shopes, as well as Kelly Navies, Museum Specialist Oral Historian at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The symposium was held in June 2022. Additionally, the Oral History Review will publish her article, "Is Oral History 'White'? The Civil Rights Movement in Baltimore, an Oral History Project from 1976 and Best Practices Today" in fall 2022. The Review also published her article, "Sensory Roadmaps: How to Capture Sensory Detail in an Interview and Why Doing So Has Exciting Implications for Oral History" in the Spring 2022 issue.
Holly is also currently an oral historian and consultant for History Associates, Inc., where her focus is on institutional memory and personal and work experience. She has interviewed senior management (including outgoing CEO Rebecca Rimel) for the Pew Charitable Trusts, several award-winning inventors for the Lemelson-MIT Program, and, forty narrators for the Vera Institute of Justice, from Nick Turner, current president of Vera, to former and current presidents of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, including Jeremy Travis and Karol Mason, to Glenn Martin and Vivian Nixon, formerly incarcerated leaders focused on mass incarceration, education, prisoner reentry initiatives, and other criminal and immigration justice work. Other oral history projects include those for the Ohio Education Association, several pioneering feminists of the National Women's Law Center and several agencies of the National Institutes of Health.