Preserving the Past with Oral History

We all have stories to tell. Stories about the exciting and tragic and emotional things we have lived though. Oral history listens to these stories. Oral history is the systematic collection of living people’s testimony about their own lives. Historians have finally realized that the everyday memories of everyday people, not just the rich and famous, have vast historical importance. Rich in personal triumph and tragedy, oral history is the history of the common person.

Procedures of Video Recorded Interviews At COLUMBIA CENTER FOR ORAL HISTORY

Over the last 15 years 500 hours of oral history on broadcast quality video, adapting the traditional techniques of oral history - in which rapport and research are central to the interview - to the studio environment. Interviews on the history of the Carnegie Corporation culminated with a series of interviews conducted with Carnegie grantees in South Africa, including Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and a biographical interview with Jimmy Carter in Atlanta. The introduction of video into the oral history process often follows a series of audio interviews, which are transcribed and returned to the interviewee before the video session is scheduled. The video interview is then an opportunity for a deeper reflection on the issues discussed in the previous interview and a moment in which the interviewee can consciously speak to a larger public.

Video technology assists in preservation of oral history

Oral history may be the single most valuable tool in preserving local history. It is the collection of historical information through interviews with knowledgeable sources, using audiotape and videotape. “Oral history makes it all come alive, much more than reading a textbook about it. It helps you relate it to your own family or community,” Carthage College history professor Tom Noer said. “History is what we select from the past that’s important. What’s important is often not just World War II, but the daily life of people during World War II,” Noer continued. “And you need to look at the average person, not just the important people.”

Share oral history between generations

Sharing the oral history between generations is an important way to capture and stories that otherwise might be lost for generations. (Shutterstock) Sharing oral history between generations is an important way to capture stories that otherwise would be lost for generations. Following are a few ideas to consider:

On Making Oral Histories More Accessible to Persons with Hearing Loss

This essay recommends a series of steps that can be taken to make oral histories more accessible to persons who have hearing loss. Recommendations are offered for those who record oral history interviews and also for those who disseminate them. These recommendations are intended to mitigate some of the limitations on speech understanding that are experienced daily by the millions of people in the United States who have a hearing loss.

Procedures of Audio Recorded Interviews At COLUMBIA CENTER FOR ORAL HISTORY

Our usual procedure, once a project has been organized and funded, is to bring on staff an interviewer either as a consultant or as a part-time employee, to research and conduct the interviews. In recruiting interviewers we seek applicants who have knowledge of the field under investigation and interviewing experience. In particular, we search for someone familiar with the secondary literature, the location and organization of collections of written documents relevant to the interviews, a sense of the historiographical issues involved in the project, and the personality traits of an informed, interested listener.

Tips on Archiving Family History, Part 2

Readers sent dozens of questions about archiving and preserving family history and stories to Bertram Lyons, an archivist at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress in Washington. He was recently asked to be the editor of the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives, an organization that aims to share best practices in the management of audiovisual materials internationally. He received his master’s degree in museum studies from the University of Kansas in 2009.

Principles for Oral History and Best Practices for Oral History

Oral history refers both to a method of recording and preserving oral testimony and to the product of that process. It begins with an audio or video recording of a first person account made by an interviewer with an interviewee (also referred to as narrator), both of whom have the conscious intention of creating a permanent record to contribute to an understanding of the past.

Tips on Archiving Family History, Part 1

Readers sent dozens of questions about archiving and preserving family history and stories to Bertram Lyons, an archivist at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress in Washington. He manages digital archives relating to folklife, including StoryCorps, which records and collects oral histories. In addition to academic workshops, he participates in public outreach, answering questions from people interested in preserving audio and visual material in analog and digital media, as well as related documents.

US ARMY GUIDE TO ORAL HISTORY (6)

Army historians should use either standard cassette recorders or digital recorders when conducting interviews. Adherence to this policy will facilitate the transcription process and the exchange of interviews between Army historical offices. The use of proprietary software for digital recorders, as well as the use of microcassettes, is discouraged. The Center of Military History will transcribe only standard cassettes. Although most Army historians will want to use digital recorders, standard cassette recorders remain widely available, relatively inexpensive, and portable. If using a cassette recorder, be sure to:
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The Anniversary of Takeover of the U.S. Embassy

A Genuine Question

I do not forget the time when the young people had taken over the spy nest and there was a tumult — maybe less than a month had passed — and we had just come from Hajj. Mr. Hashemi, another person and I — whose I do not want to mention his name — went from Tehran to Qom to ask Imam they have finally been caught, what should we do with them now? Should they be kept, not keeping, what should we do?

A Part of Memoirs of a Soldier

The embankment where we were stationed led to the Khorramshahr asphalt road. For this reason, the Iraqis tried hard to recapture it. And finally, near at noon, they were able to settle in the embankment next to the asphalt road and shoot diagonally towards us from there. We had no choice but to retreat. Captain Barati, the battalion commander, ordered two kilometers behind to build an embankment for us to settle there.

Your Problem is Different / You Hinted Not to Hit More

One day, they came to me and said: “We want to take you to the prosecutors office so that the investigator will interrogate you.” We had been famous for the meetings we organized as the Anti-Baha’i Association. At that time, there were many people in Jahrom that worked in different jobs; Among other things, there was a sergeant major in Shahrbani (law enforcement force), who stood guard duty instead of the guard ...

Privacy and Its Niceties in Oral History

Privacy in the process of recording and publishing memories is an issue that has attracted attention of activists in this field and those interested in legal issues in recent years with the expansion of activities of memoirist individuals and groups. Oral history interviews include close and personal relationships between interviewers, narrators and their organizational sponsors. This relationship is important for all groups. Interviewers feel an obligation to the people who have allowed ...