Oral history: Save cherished stories

This SoulCollage card that I created,
which represents the historian part of me,
features an image of the first streetcar in San Francisco.

What is oral history?

This living form of history records people’s memories and anecdotes through sound (and sometimes visual) recording. It allows people to share their personal experiences in their own words, maintaining the richness of their language and unique forms of self-expression. It gives a voice to those who otherwise might not be heard.

FAMILY AND COMMUNITY: Save your cherished stories

Consider oral history interviews. One thing that makes them different from regular questioning is the lack of leading questions. Unlike a reporter, the interviewer does not try to influence the subject’s perspective.

 

A great way to start: Dig out old photos. They will inspire great stories and bring back old memories. Don’t let those great stories of old-timers in your family and community disappear. Once they die, the stories are often gone.

For further information, try these resources:

For an excellent example of oral history, try the Foxfire series of books, one of the first popular series written. Each volume has a different editor.

In these engaging books, a teacher in Appalachia transformed his classroom into a collection of fascinating folklore and practical tips. He had his students share and record what they learned at home, from log-cabin-building and mountain crafts to faith healing and moonshine recipes.

Other resources:

www.oralhistory.org.uk/

www.bluetreebooks.com/titles/presfam.shtml?source=over&OVRAW=oral%20history&OVKEY=oral%20history&OVMTC=standard

www.omega.dickinson.edu/organizations/oha/

www.historymatters.gmu.edu/mse/oral/

www.dohistory.org/on_your_own/toolkit/oralHistory.html

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