J.R.R. Tolkien
(Photo by Haywood Magee/Picture Post/Getty Images)

Here are 3 questions to be answered in 3 minutes or less as 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.

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?

The goal of the Project is to gather 6,000 oral interviews (recordings) based on these questions from Tolkien enthusiasts, like us. The interviews are then digitize 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. If you’re really lucky, you can arrange to give your interview just before enjoying the live showing of original Tolkien manuscripts, letters, and other works given by Archivist Fliss.

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:

Join the Host

Tolkien Manuscripts Public Showings 2021 Schedule

Visit the DIGITAL COLLECTION to listen to the interviews already gathered [These are great to listen to for some inspiring stories]

Preview YouTube video of the Tolkien Fandom Oral History Project