Oral history is telling storiesby Penelope Starr on Jun. 15, 2010, under Arts
Oral history is the recording, preservation and interpretation of historical information, based on the personal experiences and opinions of the speaker according to wikipedia. In other words telling and keeping stories.
Here is a very brief survey of some online info:
The Oral History Association was founded in 1966 to “bring together all persons interested in oral history as a way of collecting and interpreting human memories to foster knowledge and human dignity”. They offer a social networking space, resources and guides, a network for scholars and a number of publications.
The Oral History Archives Project at the Urban School of San Francisco is called Telling Their Stories. You can “read, watch and listen to student interviews of elders who witnessed key historic events of the 20th century” at their website. They’ve interviewed Holocaust survivors, Japanese American internees, a witness to the Rwandan genocide and veterans of the civil rights struggle, in this “ongoing, ever-changing, and constantly evolving project involving dozens of students, teachers, and community volunteers”.
We all have stories to tell, stories we have lived from the inside out. We give our experiences an order. We organize the memories of our lives into stories.
Oral history listens to these stories. Oral history is the systematic collection of living people’s testimony about their own experiences. Historians have finally recognized that the everyday memories of everyday people, not just the rich and famous, have historical importance. If we do not collect and preserve those memories, those stories, then one day they will disappear forever.
And at History Matters they ask “What is Oral History”
“Oral History” is a maddeningly imprecise term: it is used to refer to formal, rehearsed accounts of the past presented by culturally sanctioned tradition-bearers; to informal conversations about “the old days” among family members, neighbors, or coworkers; to printed compilations of stories told about past times and present experiences; and to recorded interviews with individuals deemed to have an important story to tell.
Go ahead. Google “oral history” and see what you can find.