Documents Used in Oral History

Compiled by: Hamid Qazvini
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


Note: Documents, pictures, manuscripts and other works left from the past are historical evidence that are in the focus of researchers' attention. In many oral history interviews, we are faced with documents that the interviewee or the researcher tries to use and attach in the appendix or next to the pages.

With this introduction, three questions are raised:

First, how should the documents be used and in what process should they be cited? Of course, in the first step, like any oral history question, with whom? Where? How? What time? and why It is related, one should also ask about historical documents and evidence, who, how, where, when and why created it? Who were his audience? How are the documents described? How was their archive? Why has it not been published until today? What are the characteristics of the language or font used in it? What is its relationship with the interview text and the final version? Can any document that somehow belongs to a historical period be attached to the book? What are the results of these documents? Can the content of the document be extended to other topics?

Obviously, after paying attention to such questions and reaching the exact answer, it is possible to decide whether the document in question can be used, cited and published or not.

2- Is it necessary to bring an authentic document for each narrator's speech? Should all of them be added to the book with the close connection between the documents and the interview text? Are the narrator's statements not one of the historical documents that need to be cited? It seems that one should not go too far in this section and should trust the narrative produced as the most important pillar of oral history obtained in a targeted interview and only use documents that add value to the narrative. For example, when the narrator claims that he was an excellent student during his studies and does not remember the details of the courses and grades, his report card can add value to the narrative. At the same time, it also shows information such as the name of the school, its director, the courses that were studied and the form of the report card to the audience.

3- What amount of documents, images and documents should be included in the book? Does the fattening of documents and images make the book valid? For example, books are published that include bulk documents in the appendices section without sufficient explanation; Documents about which there are doubts about their relationship with the main topic of the book. Sometimes, with the publication of a person's memoirs, dozens of documents and proofs of his personal and social life are also published, which do not add value to the book and cause confusion and citation errors for the audience. On the other hand, the documents and images section should not have a large volume. In fact, this part is not in the text of the book and should be seen below it. In addition to this large number of documents, it leads to an increase in the volume of the book and an increase in its price, which will decrease the number.

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