Memoir Verification

Hamid Qazvini
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian


One important question concerning publication of oral history literature is the extent to which the narrator is to be trusted? Is it the obligation of the oral history scholar to verify the memories? Is the scholar allowed to argue with the narrator? Does such literature fit the criteria of an historical resource?


Why skepticism?

The important point in skepticism is that the memories belong to the past and new complementary information is received during years and some images are formed and all integrated together which compromises the accuracy of the narrator’s memory. Also, time weakens memory and the narrator might miss a very important segment of the memory or replace it with another subject. On the other hand, people are affected by policital and social developments which change their individual and general attitude towards the past and directly affects their narration.

It might raise the question if the narrator’s observation has been accurate or his/her understanding of the events fits the reality? Has he/she been in the center of the event or a bystander and if he/she has suffered visual impairment or his/her ability to detect and understand the environment has been impaired? Is the narrator’s judgment fair? For instance, the narration of two political prisoners concerning the prison environment or political competition among the followers of various trends vary significantly; in such cases who is to be trusted?

Moral characteristics and beliefs of individuals have direct impact on their narration. Some oral history projects have political, security and cultural and social sidelines which distracts the narrator from the reality and honesty.


A narration besides all

In response to the questions above it shall be stated that as some scholars consider a similar definition for history and the historian and believe that history comes to life through the historian and historical literature is what the historian has produced based on findings and individual perceptions of the event sin the past, then the narrators narration in oral history is one besides all.

However, the narration is an individual approach towards an incident and it is not essential to cover all aspects but it is a piece of a puzzle in history. Others might have a different account of the same incident. (As it is in written resources.) the audience might apply to evaluate its accuracy based on their knowledge of the narrator.


Evaluation methodology

Obviously in order to evaluate the narration, the following key points have to be taken into consideration:

1- Identity: The narrator has to be prominent with a clear identity to conduct research about him/her and evaluate his/her account.

2- Honesty: People known for their lies and exaggerations, affected by individual and collective interest are not to be trusted.

3- Rational consistency: when various components of a narrator lack consistency then its validity is tarnished.

4- Personal interest: Sometimes personal interests affect and dictate the narration. For instance when the narration is intended to provide an exaggerated feature of the narrator or others then its credibility is to be doubted.

5- Details: Precise and accurate recount of details are signs of honesty and proper memory.

6- Documentation: written resources or other memoirs which verify the narrator’s claims are other ways of credibility verification.  

Number of Visits: 1039


Full Name:

Contemporaneity of Oral History Conference and Awarding Prize of the Best Sacred Defense Book

The closing ceremony of eighteenth period of selecting the best book of Holy Defense will be held on March 03, 2019, coincident with the second National Conference on Oral History of Holy Defense. As reported by Iranian Oral History Website, according to plans of managers of the Foundation for Preservation of Relics and Publishing Values of Holy Defense, the 2nd National Conference on Oral Defense of Holy Defense and the closing of ...
299th session of Memory Night -1

One Nation, One Leader and A Great Movement

According to Iranian Oral History Website, 299th session of memory night of the sacred defense was held in Sooreh Hall of Hozeh Honari on Thursday, January 24, 2019. In this program, Ali Danesh Monfared, Ibrahim Etesam and Hojatoleslam Mohammad Jamshidi spoke about their memories of the struggle for victory of Islamic Revolution and captivity in prisons of Iraqi Baath regime.
Meeting on oral history of Islamic Revolution of Iran – 2

Oral history should contribute to recognize our history

A meeting on the oral history of the Islamic Revolution of Iran was held in Dr. Parham Hall of the National Library and Archives of Islamic Republic of Iran on Monday 21st of January 2019, Iranian Oral History website reported. In the first part of the full report of the meeting, you read the texts of the speeches by Gholam Reza Azizi, the Head of the Research Center of the National Library ...

Must & Must Not(s) in Expert Evaluation

Usually, in any oral history project, interviewing is evaluated before the final text is formulated. At this stage, managers or project experts have seen the interview and evaluated it. The following are methods of interview expert evaluation: 1-In addition to scientific nobility on the subject, the expert must have a good understanding of the oral history interview and its characteristics. Otherwise, why some of the questions and techniques used in ...