Oyez: The Supreme Court Archive
The Oyez Project is an unofficial multimedia archive dedicated to the Supreme Court of the United States and its purpose in the U.S. government. By archiving oral and audio arguments, Oyez tries to ben complete authoritative source for audio of the Court since October 1955 when the recording system was first installed.
Not only does Oyez provide all recordings, but it attempts to give authoritative information about the justices, both historical and incumbent. It also provides a virtual ‘tour’ of different parts of the Supreme Court building, such as many of the justices’ chambers.
Oyez gives access to over 5,000 total hours of audio from the Supreme Court in hopes to provide an archive that is searchable to up to 1955. Oyez6, which is this current various, audio is available in its entirety from 1970 up to 2010. The collection is not as thorough and is rather selective before 1970.
Beginning of Oyez
Oyez came from the idea of making a Supreme Court experience that was based on multimedia available at the time. The first version of this was a series of HyperCard stacks that revolved around a baseball card metaphor.
Since the start of the annual Term in October 1955, almost all proceedings in the Supreme Court have been recorded for use by the clerks and the justices. These recordings were first put on reel to reel tapes. The Supreme Court then agreed to have these recordings archived at the National archive & Records Administration, as long as they were used for research and educational purposes only and not duplicated for commercial purposes.
In 1993, a political science from the University of California, Peter Irons, challenged these conditions by creating copies and transcripts, which eventually the Court allowed. Jerry Goldman, another professor felt that these recordings were important to make available, and with this the Oyez project was started.
Next, the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court” showed the potential use of academic content that could be integrated with multimedia. There were many different versions of Oyez before it became the service became web based that is known today.
Funding for Oyez
Oyez receives support for the Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences, Northwestern University Libraries, FindLaw, and M. R. Bauer Foundation. In addition, the National Science Foundation provided funding and support for Oyez as well. It gave a major grant to Oyez in 2003 in order to show support for the Supreme Court and its interdisciplinary interests.
In 2011, Oyez also received a grant from Google, allowing them to continue adding to the archive, in hopes that it can ultimately be complete.