Publication of the first issue of Oral History Journal in Iran

Attention to oral history, carelessness to the press techniques

Elham Saleh
Translated by: Zahra Hosseinian


‘Oral History journal’ is one of those publications which is realized as a specialized one, as soon as you take it in hand. Setting the contents together, how they are expressed and even the number of pages which is dedicated to each topic, displays it very well.

Specialized-scientific journal of ‘Oral History’[1], whose first issue has been published with the date of ‘spring and summer 1394 release’, is in fact a two-quarterly with the subject of oral history; but it should be seen how much its content is linked to the oral history.

Its editor’s speech entitled ‘After twenty-plus years’, suggests the oral history and its importance as one of the most important resources in understanding events and formulating research. And in part of it we read: “Although meaning of oral history today is something new in our country, but oral tradition and using of witnesses in the writing of history, has a long history; from narration of poems and legends and a sort of reading epic in ancient times (such as Gusans party) to the tradition of narration of Ahadith after the advent of Islam, we can find exact items in books of Islamic historians.”

● the language of ‘Oral History’ journal is such that it has a certain appeal for the lay audience of oral history.

Chief Editor’s speech, which is in fact the entrance to the magazine, could persuade the audience to study the contents of the journal. There is no much difference that the audience is interested in oral history or he/she is a general audience.

After editor speech, we correctly encountered with ‘History of Oral History’ which written by Rebecca Sharpless. Selection of this article for a publication, whose first issue has been published, is completely appropriate. One of the examples in this article is about collecting the memories of soldiers who were engaged in the forest industry: “in the 1940s, Forest History Society began noting and collecting the memoirs of soldiers who were engaged in the forest products industry. In 1950, the society began recording these memories on the cassette tapes. It gradually increased the interviewees and in addition to those who were first interviewed, others such as forestry educators, government officials and conservationists were added to the interviewees.”

● It also has sections of introduction and reviewing the books. And the books which have been published in the field of oral history are introduced and reviewed.

“The role of universities in oral history”, as the name implies, deals with the role of universities in the development of oral history. In this study, activities of domestic universities are also examined in addition to the role of foreign universities in the development of oral history.

Interview with Yahya Adl is one of interviews of this Journal whose full lead encourages the audience to study the interviewee’s questions and Adl’s answers. In this lead, both scientific biography of Adl and his political activities has been referred. Interview with Adl has a fluent text in which the interviewer raises questions from the core of interviewee’s responses. But the first question, which is the entrance to interview, is a general question which is considered as a weak point in interviewing with a famous professor like Yahya Adl. The interviewer could choose a more suitable and detailed question rather than ‘please began with your biography’. In terms of interview technique, media arts, and journalism and for the reputation of someone like professor Adl, this question is wrong. It should also be noted that the more precise and detailed question, the interviewee’s answers will be more accurate and detailed.

Interview with Reza Shabani about the importance of history and its place, is another interview in ‘Oral History’ journal. It has no lead and its questions are general, so the interviewee's responses also have lengthened.

It should be mentioned that interview plays a significant role in compiling an oral history, so familiarity with interviewing techniques can help the narrators of oral history.

It also has sections of introduction and reviewing the books in which books that have been published in the field of oral history, such as Oral History of Play in Iran and posterity and wayfarers, has been introduced and reviewed. In one part of Oral History of Play in Iran we can read: “On the whole, this book is a successful experience in the field of publication of oral history interviews in the form of book that its lack in the National Library of Iran was feeling well. It seems that those who interested in the topics of play and its historical background in Iran will be more inclined to read this book, with their knowledge of interviewees.”

In the Journal of ‘Oral History’, there is an article about the Remembrance Query, unpublished book of AliReza Kamari, which has been addressed some discourses about writing memory of war and the front.

According to the interviews contained in this journal, we can easily realize that the contents has shortcomings in the terms of press techniques, despite the special issue of it, oral history, which has been well dealt with. Apparently, presentation of specialized issues in the field of oral history has been primarily for the organizers of ‘oral history’, to the extent that they have been indifferent in press techniques and especially interviewing.

However, this publication can attract audiences. Although the material presented in the specific area, but its language has a certain appeal for the lay audience of oral history.


[1]. Two quarterly of ‘Oral History’: specialized scientific journal, first year, first issue, spring and summer of 1394, the concessionaire: The National Library and Archives of the Islamic Republic of Iran; the publisher: Dr. Muhammad Javad Moradiniya; the editor of this issue: Gholam Reza Azizi.


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