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Remembering together: The pros and cons of holding large roundtable oral history sessions.


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Presented by Samantha Sinnayah at the local studies meeting 27 March 2018

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Remembering together: The pros and cons of holding large roundtable oral history sessions.

  1. 1. Remembering together: The pros and cons of holding large round table oral history sessions Samantha Sinnayah Curator Bayside Council
  2. 2. Use a portable recorder from the Zoom range Large ‘round table’ oral history sessions of 15 to 25 participants are a great way to: • Bring facts to life which you have casually heard • Gather new stories and research leads • Engage and activate the local community, making them feel valued • Create a regular public program Sit participants in a circle. Don’t do introductions as people can go off topic. Set clear guidelines e.g. one speaker at a time Tips for holding these sessions include: Display related material such as photographs on the walls to encourage discussion
  3. 3. Sessions can help you understand how everyday places were valued and used by the community Archival material about a local department store called Quality Stores LEFT: Mitchell Library, SLNSW (Home and Away – 11691) ABOVE: Advert, South Sydney News, 1955, Bayside Libraries
  4. 4. “Before you got married you assembled a glory box to prepare you for when you got married and had your own home… I can remember going there and to layby some beautiful Irish linen table cloths with lace edges.” June Thornton “It was very different (from shopping in town) .. It was personal service. There was a counter and everything was in boxes behind the counter and they would pull out the boxes with your size. You didn’t get to touch anything until unless you were about to purchase” Maria Caruana Memories of Quality Stores as captured through a round table discussion about shopping. “They weren’t like anywhere else because they had everything” Ian Davidson • Participants often feed off each other others stories, jogging memories they might not have initially thought of • Hearing peoples stories can give others the confidence to speak up.
  5. 5. Group dynamics also come into play. Sometimes groups have to be carefully led just like in a classroom or university tutorial. Then and Now: The first class to graduate from JJ Cahill Memorial High School. LEFT: Courtesy of Janet Irwin TOP: Bayside Libraries Sessions can vary tremendously depending on your participants. Their knowledge and personalities can impact the stories that are shared
  6. 6. “I only ever ordered my lunch once and I was so excited! I ordered a pie and an apple” MAVIS MORRISON ON BUYING LUNCH “You could get three in each hand for talking in school and you could go out and be the hero in the playground. The reason I stopped doing things I shouldn’t do was if I stopped getting the cane…. [I’d have to] stay back after school and write out 500 times “I must not talk in class”. That fixed me.” BRIAN RUSSELL ON THE CANE VS. DENTENTION “Miss Gilchrest at Maroubra Junction kept the material and the pattern was given to us. Those of us who could sew made their own uniforms” GWENDA GODDARD, PAGEWOOD PUBLIC SCHOOL MOTHER “It was a shock to the system to me. I went to Gardeners Road and we never mixed. There was a palling fence separating us … It was only the dancing for P.E that we met and what a terrifying session that was!” DAVID DENNING ON ATTENDING MASCOT’S FIRST CO-ED SECONDARY SCHOOL, J.J.CAHILL Some topics such as school life lend themselves well to this format and result in a high level of group participation.
  7. 7. In other sessions, knowledgeable individuals may lead discussions because of their knowledge and experience. This can give other participants a fascinating ‘living history’ experience. Botany’s beaches c.1950s. This area has since been reclaimed and is now either part of a golf course or Foreshore Road Courtesy of Dennis Muller and Dorothy Hargreaves
  8. 8. You may wish to find other ways people can contribute their stories. Sessions that are not focused on a single subject may be harder to manage.
  9. 9. The Argus, 14 September 1948. Courtesy of TROVE Trove can be a great way to verify the stories you collect
  10. 10. Other times your Trove search can uncover something totally new. A local memory about a runaway elephant in the 1950s Instead of swings, the home of a market gardener was partly destroyed. article15050082 According to Trove there was another runaway elephant nearby in 1909 .