Oral Histories


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A brief lecture on oral histories and an assignment where students create and share their own oral histories.

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Oral Histories

  1. 1. Oral history can be defined as the  recording, preservation and interpretation of historical information, based on the personal experiences and opinions of the speaker.
  2. 2. We all have stories to tell, stories we have  lived from the inside out. We give our experiences an order. We organize the memories of our lives into stories. http://dohistory.org/on_your_own/toolkit/oralHistory.html
  3. 3. Oral history listens to these stories.  Historians have finally recognized that the everyday memories of everyday people, not just the rich and famous, have historical importance. http://dohistory.org/on_your_own/toolkit/oralHistory.html
  4. 4. (Textbook page 176) Mbathio Sall  Andrei Simic  Deborah Schwartz 
  5. 5. Oral histories are usually collected in the  form of interviews.  These interviews are then transcribed into a narrative. › Transcribe: to write, type, or print out (a text) fully from a speech or notes › Narrative: A narrated account; a story.
  6. 6. Oral histories are very reliable because the 1. source was actually “there” and so they know first hand! 2. Oral histories may be reliable, although additional research to verify the interviewee‟s information would be beneficial. 3. Oral histories are not reliable, after being transcribed the information has gone through too many people and cannot still be valid (ie. The telephone game affect).
  7. 7. Have you ever interviewed someone?  Have you ever been interviewed?  What would your story be about? 
  8. 8. The processes involved in recording an  oral history always begin with the same step: deciding what it is you want to know. What questions might we ask of each  other?  What would you ask yourself?
  9. 9. Small numbers, and time constraints, limit  the possibilities! Choose a guiding question (what are  you hoping to find out?) Prepare interview questions that you  would ask, were you conducting an interview (have at least 15)
  10. 10. (I know – this is a stretch, use your imagination!) Answer your questions – in point form  Transcribe your answers into a narrative  Voila! Your Oral History!  (Did you know you were so interesting?!)
  11. 11. If you are comfortable sharing your  history with the rest of the class, there will be an option to do so on Thursday Regardless of sharing, you must hand in:  › Your guiding question › At least 15 „interview‟ questions and answers › Your transcribed oral history › Reflection
  12. 12. Once you have gone through the  process of recording your own oral history, how do you feel about the validity of oral histories? Has your opinion changed at all? Why or why not?  Write a few sentences to reflect on these issues.
  13. 13. › Do you have a guiding question? /1 › Do you have 15 interview questions? /1 › Have you answered your questions in point form before transcribing your history? /1 › Does the final, transcribed version read like a narrative? /1 › Have you reflected on the validity of oral histories? /1 TOTAL /5