Well, here’s your chance to share your fandom in three minutes or less by responding to three simple questions:
1. When did you first encounter the works of J.R.R. Tolkien?
2. Why are you a Tolkien fan?
3. What has he meant to you?
These questions are a part of The Tolkien Fandom Oral History Project; an inspired quest spearheaded by William Fliss, Archivist in the Department of Special Collections and University Archives of the Raynor Memorial Library at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The goal of the Project is to gather 6,000 oral interviews or recordings from Tolkien enthusiasts, like us, and then digitize them as an audio collection for posterity. Find all the Project details here and on the FAQ page here that also explains how to set up an interview. There is a process where the oral interviews can be done online or in person. Since there was a showing of original Tolkien manuscripts, letters, and other works, I arranged to do mine in person just before the presentation.
What showing, you may ask? The Department of Special Collections and University Archives is home to one of the world’s foremost archival collections of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. Included in the vast collection are the original manuscripts and several working drafts for The Hobbit (1937), Farmer Giles of Ham (1949), The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955), and Mr. Bliss. Frequently throughout the year, Mr. Fliss hosts a fascinating public showing of several of Tolkien’s original manuscripts, sketches, letters, moon charts, etc. Along with the showing, he gives an ardent presentation of Tolkien’s life and a history of how his works came to Marquette University. A schedule of upcoming showings can be found here.
The Tolkien Fandom Oral History Project will be collecting oral interviews for quite a while, so make your next adventure (or vacation) a journey to Milwaukee and Marquette University. Become a part of the Host of 6,000 and visit J.R.R. Tolkien treasures for yourself.
Here are some additional links:
Tolkien Manuscripts Public Showings 2019-2020 Schedule
Visit the DIGITAL COLLECTION to listen to the interviews already gathered
Preview YouTube video of the Tolkien Fandom Oral History Project