Oral history in the news
News stories pertaining to oral history
US News: Making History, by Alex Kingsbury. “From World War II soldiers to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, more people are sharing their own memories to bring the past back to life.” I spoke with him back in June, the story mentions me and this site. Color me stoked. I’m planning to do a roundup of stories about Ken Burns and The War; I’m tickled that one of them will be slightly self-referential.
I discovered it this afternoon, immediately after posting Genealogy Carnival, after I took my broken-footed boyfriend to doctor’s office. So glad they subscribe to around 4 copies of US News & World Report. They said I could have a copy before I even said, “I’m in here. My name is right here.”
Ahem. Back to business. There are several related articles and sidebars in this issue. In addition to the main story talking about the phenomenon of oral history and personal memory projects, there are these stories:
A Ken Burns profile—An Intimate View of ‘The War’.
Starbucks will sell oral history book. The David Isay StoryCorps history book, “Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Lives From the StoryCorps Project” It goes on sale Nov 8. (hooray hooray, I saw that David Isay is coming to my local independent bookstore this fall. Yay!)
NJ.com: Studs Terkel, 95, receives an award for his efforts to tell the stories of ordinary people.
His drive to honor oral history is part of the reason Terkel, the Pulitzer-prize winning author of more than a dozen books, became the third recipient of Rutgers University’s Stephen E. Ambrose Oral History Award. Past recipients were Steven Spielberg and Tom Brokaw.
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
A one-day oral history conference was just held in Iran.
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.”
Stacy Parker Aab has three posts    at Huffington Post to describe her oral history project: The Katrina Experience (project home page). The blog entries have excerpts: A 30-year old guy at a shelter. A physician from a New Orleans hospital describing how things changed in an emergency and with no technology. A woman describing how the storm surge flooded the first floor of their home in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. A couple discussing having to gut and rebuild their flooded New Orleans home. A roofer describing what it was like in the Ninth Ward during the hurricane and aftermath.
My name is Stacy Parker Aab and I’m a writer here in Houston. For the past year I have interviewed Americans about their Katrina experiences.
We talk about the hurricane and the aftermath. We talk about what it’s been like to survive, and for some, to thrive. We talk about crimes. We talk about epiphanies. We talk about their lives before. We talk about their dreams ahead.
Katrina is not over. Far from it. Therefore, I will keep chronicling the lives of those who survived. I will also talk to people whose role, or calling, is to work with survivors.
Using the Studs Terkel approach, I’ve shaped those interviews into oral history essays. I’ve posted several essays on the project ...Read More
[updated] It’s a growing trend to plan to deliver projects as podcasts. From Florida to Scotland: Univeristy of West Florida will podcast history of Pensacola’s black community from interviews conducted with video. From Scotland comes news of a plan to record recollections of classmates of author Dame Muriel Spark, an alum of James Gillespie’s High School. (The school was the basis for Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.) They plan to make the histories available as podcasts.
I’m seeing a trend here in the news stories that show up about oral history projects. First the one from Edinburgh, and then the one from Florida. Both of these are projects in early stages—proposal and interviewing. I suspect that we’ll see more oral history projects that are conceived as having a “deliver it on the web” element to it. (I have a query in to someone associated with the Florida project about their delivery methods. Since it’s being recorded on video, will these be converted to audio for audio podcasts, or videoblogs? I don’t know, I hope to find out.)
More on Florida:
The project brings together Pensacola’s African-American Heritage Society and West Florida Historic ...Read More
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.
Willa loved being involved in oral history, not only because the work was important, but because it allowed her to meet people of the highest caliber and interview them about the events and issues they felt most passionately about.
Through her interviews at ROHO, Willa got to know Earl Warren, Golda Meir, and Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, David Brower and many others. She prided herself on being clever enough to hire a group of top notch women interviewers, each an expert in her field, who “wanted something intelligent to do.”
[...]Willa was also instrumental in establishing oral history as an accepted discipline by working with colleagues from around the country to develop professional ...Read More
The BBC has a short audio story (3-4 minute, Windows Media or Real Audio) news story. “An archive of conversations with people who have dementia has lead to a change in practice at some care homes.”
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]