Pratt SILS Cultural Heritage: Description and Access Spring 2011Presentation Transcript
Unwritten History in a Paperless Age: Looking at Oral History in 2011 by Amelia Catalano, Christina N. Manzella, & Lisa Paolucci LIS 670 - Cultural Heritage: Access and Description, Spring 2011 Pratt Institute - School of Information and Library Science A Brief History of Oral History Oral history came about when humans fisrt started to communicate. It quickly evolved into a means of communicating every aspect of those first cultures, from entertainment, to religion, to history. The practice of oral traditions coexisted with written culture until the rise of universities during the middle ages when it became increasingly necessary to have a permanent, traceable source. This transition was also fostered by the invention of movable type which made paper sources of information readily available. Oral tradition became increasingly marginalized as a means of cultural transaction, especially in European cultures. Many of the issues raised with oral histories were based on reliability of source (transcripted records and memory), and from a disregard of the cultures which practiced oral traditions. In 1948 Columbia University started their Oral History Department as a means to add depth to existing written historical records. In the 1960s, many of the civil rights movement groups took on the practice of oral history archiving as a way of recording the history of people who, up until that point, did not have a recorded history. Recently there has been a general acceptance of oral history as a reliable source, a supplement to written history, and a a primary historical source in its own right. There has also been a move away from transcriptions, which have accuracy issues, to recordings as the best means of preservation of oral histories. Broadcastr App Brings BHS' Oral Histories to their Geographical Locations The Brooklyn Historical Society is using the Broadcastr App for the iPhone to share the oral histories included on their Fort Greene walking tour. Clearly, this technology allows for both greater access to oral histories as well as the opportunity to create our own recordings. in addition, we can imagine that hearing oral histories while walking through the actual locations will allow for moments of deeper insight. See Sady. (2011). Listen to Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Historical Society Blog. Retrieved from http://brooklynhistory.org/blog/category/oralhistory/ http://storycorps.org/record-your-story/ The HistoryMakers Digital Archive This digital archive of African American oral histories uses technology that makes mere linear searches a thing of the past. Users can access and manipulate the video recordings (with their accompanying text) through many channels. Naturally, digital archives such as tihs one will lead to the creation of new meanings and exciting discoveries. Virtual Reality & the Presentation of Oral Histories Lesley J.F. Green's work with video recordings of interviews with the Palikur people of Arukwa in Northern Brazil illuminates the new possibilities that digital technology provides cultural heritage practitioners. Virtual worlds, resembling those used in contemporary video games, can be created to reflect the particular knowledge frameworks of whatever culture is being represented through oral histories. Therefore, the medium itself can be as informative as the material within the interviews. New media allows our experience of heritage to more closely resemble the subject that is being reproduced. See Green, L. (2007). Cultural heritage, archives, and citizenship: reflections on using virtual reality for presenting knowledge diversity in the public sphere. Critical Arts, 21(2): 308-320. University of Southern Mississippi's Civil Rights Documentation Project, http://www.usm.edu/crdp/ A Truly Democratized Process and Product If one of the initial goals of the social history movement of the 1970s was to democratize history through new methods of recording it such as oral histories, the technology of the digital age is helping this goal reach complete fruition. Institutions are finding it easier than ever to provide the general public with access to their oral history collections thanks to the internet. Take, for instance, Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project, whose digital archive houses nearly 500 video interviews freely accessible through their website. Additionally, it is now easier to record and edit one's own oral history with a plethora of guides and toolkits as well as open source software available from the web. Organizations like StoryCorps are also pushing to record and share the stories of everyday Americans. The HistoryMakers digital archive allows for multiple browsing views based on a variety of data. See Christel, M., Richardson, J., & Wactlar, H. (2006). Facilitating access to large digital oral history archives through Informedia technologies. In Proc. Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (pp. 194-195). Chapel Hill, NC: JCDL.