Oral History Projects
Discussion devoted to specific oral history projects. No matter what the stage (beginning, middle, or completed and available for access) or the venue (online or library or museum or historical society or?)
An ongoing entry of Katrina and Oral history.
All day recording of oral histories: “The Historic New Orleans Collection and the New Orleans Fire Department celebrate Oral History Day, collecting stories from those who were assisted by the Fire Department during and immediately after Hurricane Katrina, Wednesday, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Collection, 533 Royal St.”
Do you know what it means: “After Katrina, the School of Visual Arts in New York created the Web site www.DoYouKnowWhatItMeans.org. This collaborative, educational effort strives to collect the untold stories of New Orleans residents by chronicling and preserving photographs, videos, family histories, interviews and other artifacts in an accessible and public digital archive.”
Voices After The Storm: A Memoir of Katrina: Joshua Clark was in the French Quarter during the storm, afterwards, he recorded his own thoughts and conversations with others, which is collected in this memoir called Heart Like Water: Surviving Katrina and Life in Its Disaster Zone.
Dave Eggers does Oral ...Read More
KPCC ran a story yesterday about Cal State Fullerton gathering oral history of the El Toro Marine base in Southern California. It’s near where I grew up, so it’s local history for me. How nice after having just gone to Cal State Fullerton’s campus for an oral history conference to hear the Center for Oral and Public History make the news. Too, I liked hearing the perspective of the one student who’s a marine. Semper Fi. [link goes to page with Real Audio link, story is ~3+ mins long]
Coca-Cola Foundation funds oral history program at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. $250K will allow the collection to nearly double, to underwrite travel to worldwide locations to collect international civil rights interviews, and also to put more interview excerpts on the web (see existing web excerpts). Link to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Oral History Project
soon (okay, October): A StoryCorps book: Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Lives from the StoryCorps Project. David Isay, editor. According to book-industry watcher Buzz Girl, it is a “’tapestry of the stories Americans have been sharing from their lives to leave behind to their loved ones’ collected by StoryCorps, the largest oral history project in American history. CD included.”
Lives Connected (uses Flash) is a website presenting video oral history of accounts of surviving Katrina. All the interviewees are staff of the New Orleans-based Peter A. Meyer Advertising Agency.
[Click image to enlarge] The website is an experiment in “data visualization” in Flash*—there’s a line that extends from the name of the current interviewee, with themes about what is discussed. Clicking the title for a theme creates a tree for that theme, containing names of other people who discuss the same theme. Rather than sitting through one video and then another, the viewer can jump around from topic to topic.
(I would like to see a list of all topics somewhere. I came to it thinking, “Oh, Katrina oral history” and not “oOh, the stories of people who work at a NOLA Ad Agency” and so I hunted around to see if there was anyone in the oral history who did not evacuate.)
The ...Read More
AP story/Detroit News: The Corporation for Public Broadcasting funds a year-long project, “Storycorps Griot,” stories of African Americans. Sound Portraits Productions (from whence Storycorps) will collect 1500 interviews in 9 locations. The recordings will be kept at the Library of Congress (all StoryCorps recordings go there), as well as to the future Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
“Griot” comes from a West African tradition: it is “a role of honor, designating someone who maintains community tradition and memory through storytelling, music, and dance.” [source]
The cities on the tour: Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Clarksdale, Mississippi; Detroit, Michigan; Montgomery, Alabama; Selma, Alabama; Newark, New Jersey; and Oakland, California. (I count 8, maybe home-based New York City is the 9th, or maybe Washington DC?)
In time for Veterans Day, some Veteran-themed news stories of Oral History:
Iraq as told by soldiers in “What Was Asked of Us: An Oral History of the Iraq War by the Soldiers Who Fought It.” Journalist Trish Wood spent 2 years interviewing Iraq War veterans.
Iraq as told by journalists: Columbia Journalism Review interviewed 50 journalists covering the Iraq War for a special 45th anniversary issue entitled “Into the Abyss.” One of the interviewers is Chris Albritton, whose Back to Iraq blog has been one of my regular reads since Spring of 2003.
Eyewitness account of Iwo Jima, collected as part of the Veterans History Project. Chuck Bode, 82, comments on the movie, Flags of Our Fathers “I would say the movie is 90 percent accurate.”
There’s a brilliant site out there: In the First Person. It’s a repository of
kerjillions hundreds thousands of first-person narratives: Oral histories, memoirs, diaries, letters.
650,000 pages of full-text by more than 15,000 individuals
pointers to some 3,500 audio and video files
index of 30,000 bibliographic records
and 20,500 months of diary entries
and 63,000 letter entries
and 17,000 oral history entries
Hm. D’ya think there might be anything useful or worthwhile in there?
So I went poking through, looking at the names of collections. Maybe I’ll find some interesting stuff to look at and feature on this site. You know, a kind of regular feature or something.
And then I found this: Spanish Peaks Library District Oral History Interviews. Location: Walsenberg, Colorado. A Gold mine! No, the Spanish Peaks area is not a place where ...Read More
Podcast 2: A Tale of Two Congressmen. Just in time for July 4th: On Memorial Day, I talk to my congressman, David Dreier, about digital longevity, the law and oral history. Then, a clip of Congressman Ron Kind of Wisconson, about how a family discussion led to the Veterans History Project. (Thanks to Wisconson Radio Network for the clip)
BoingBoing Post that inspired the conversation with David Dreier
David Dreier, CA-26
WRN.com’s coverage of Ron Kind’s remarks (by Jackie Johnson)
Congressman Ron Kind
Veterans History Project
The toll-free number to order your Veterans History Project kit: 888-371-5848
From the newsbag, comes word of three projects to preserve life and lore of seaside areas in the face of change: North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Seaside, California (near Monterey), and Florida’s Apalachicola Bay
North Carolina’s Ocracoke and Hatteras islands: New stories gathered over 6-year period add to previous oral histories from 1970s. The collection will be sold as a two-CD set; CDs are interactive—select a particular village and go to stories from that place.
A native islander remembers when, before the weather bureau arrived, nobody had ever heard of the word hurricane. “We didn’t know about tornadoes or hurricanes, it was a bad nor’ easter or something like that,” said the islander in the study.
“Many old timers shake their heads at the fuss that is made in modern times with mass evacuations, FEMA teams, visits from helicopters, insurance adjusters and reporters,” claims the ...Read More
Wisconsin Radio Network describes how Congressman Ron Kind’s family picnic has had a nationwide effect.
Congressman Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) authored the Veterans History Project on the federal level six years ago, after an experience at a family gathering. “What inspired me to do that was a picnic table conversation that I was having with my own father, who served during the Korea war conflict, as well as his brother – my uncle – who was a bomber pilot in the Pacific during the Second World War. And they, for the very first time, started talking about their experience serving our nation during those two conflicts. This was the first time I heard it.”
The site has a 6 minute MP3 audio file of Congressman Kind’s remarks. Well worth listening to.
Yesterday I went to a local Memorial Day Ceremony (I’ve never been before). By far the most moving thing was the segment where all the veterans stood up and introduced themselves, their branch of service, their rank, where and when they served. It filled me with awe, the places some of these men had been. Plenty of Korean War vets, Vietnam Vets, and Veterans from WorldWar 2. And a handful of those who’ve served more recently. There was a man who’d fought and been captured in Bataan; he was a prisoner of war for 2 or 3 years. A man who’d landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day. A man who’d been in the battle of the bulge. (We ate cheese and crackers for Christmas, surrounded by Germans, he said.) A man from Holland who was not a veteran, but who was freed by U.S. Forces, and wished to thank United States soliders.
I thought of the Veterans Oral History project. Wondered if these stories have been told and recorded.
Civilrights.org describes the documentary, Save Our History: Voices of Civil Rights, which intersperses some of the hundreds of personal eyewitness narratives with big picture overviews of what was happening at the time.
A&E sells the DVD for 25 bucks. Here’s what the Peabody Board had to say about the special.
“Not a professor or celebrity in sight. Just men and women, white as well as black, recalling their personal experience of ‘the movement.’ The History Channel special was eloquent, moving, invaluable.”
The Voices of Civil Rights oral history project is a joint project of the AARP, the Leadership Council on Civil Rights and the Library of Congress. In 2004, the project took a 70-day bus tour across across the country, collecting personal accounts. [bus tour page]
Louisiana Weekly profiles the Research Center, and its goals and mission, post-Katrina: Named for the slave ship whose passengers revolted and mutinied in 1839, the Amistad Research Center “is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most prestigious independent archives specializing in the history of African-Americans and other ethnic groups.”
The Center’s archives holds over six hundred manuscript collections, containing more than ten million original or one-of-a-kind documents, including rare and first edition books, photographs, manuscripts, letters, diaries and memoirs, oral histories, and videos and audio tapes.
[...]Hampton said the Amistad Center will help preserve the history of Katrina by documenting the recent Diaspora through oral history interviews, photographs, and papers, while continuing to provide photographs, documents and information on New Orleans’ history and America’s ethnic heritage. An invaluable asset to Tulane University and the city of New Orleans, the center also sponsors conferences, art ...Read More