Oral history in the news

News stories pertaining to oral history

Google Trends (new!) on Oral History

Google Trends is the newest internet shiny toy. It measures trends for terms used in searches, and for terms appearing in Google News. Here’s the trend on Oral History. The latest high point was linked to a news story I didn’t notice (huh?). Ah, I see why. The date was April 12. Taxtime. Talk about your news blackout period. I’ll rectify that in the next post.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 11, 2006 in • Oral history in the news
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Gilroy Oral History Exhibit

The Cannery Tales. My goofy prediction: No vampires will be part of the Saturday exhibit (May 13, 3-5pm). Gilroy is California’s garlic capital, though this history is more along the lines of tomato canning. (if you want to toss tomatoes at me for my bad joke, I won’t say I don’t deserve it.) The old cannery buildings are being demolished; new development will house the oral history project.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Oral history in the news
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Controversy over Brooklyn neighborhood oral history project

Queen Ledger: Historical Underground Railroad meets Redevelopment meets Eminent Domain meets Oral History. Result: Embattled and embittered. The oral histories are part of the battle between city and residents, and methods used in the oral history have become a part of the controversy.

The Duffield Street neighborhood was the site of the underground railroad. Should all the homes be bought by the city and sold to a developer to be made into a parking lot?

At the fight’s core is a dispute between residents and the city about whether houses along Duffield Street were part of the Underground Railroad, and thus part of a crucial piece of national history that should be preserved.

The latest saga in this fierce battle between the city and its residents centers around collecting a proper oral history of the neighborhood. Residents claim that the oral history recorded by the city is false and riddled with errors.

Oral histories were recorded in late December 2005 and ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 03, 2006 in • Oral history in the newsTranscription
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Studs Terkel on The Daily Show

Studs Terkel was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night. [link is to Comedy Central’s Media Player page: Windows Media Player. 7 minute interview. Site will resize your browser window.] Discussion of his new book, And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey. He’s written numerous books based on countless interviews with “ordinary people” about their lives. Studs Terkel web site; bio.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 05, 2006 in • Oral history in the news
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City Anniversary Stars “ordinary citizens”

Fremont, California — “As the Celebrate Fremont Heritage Team seeks to honor the city during its 50th anniversary, it has turned to an unlikely group to act as town historians: ordinary citizens.” Video histories have been collected by Ohlone College, the Fremont Adult School and area high schools. Exhibit April 19th at the Fremont Main Library.

The city of Fremont turns 50. Those of you from locations with longer history, shush your giggling. (I’ve been on the other side of


disbelief when I was in Scotland and telling a local about my city—-Pasadena, California’s hundredth anniversary.) Everybody’s gotta start out somewhere. And they’re getting stories from everyone from the get-go. On video.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 04, 2006 in • Oral history in the news
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Oral History of Flight 93 on 9-11

Woman compiles oral history of Flight 93. Kathie Shaffer is 6 months into a 2-year project, and has interviewed 80 people so far. She expects to interview around 200. She’s interviewed first responders, Somerset County residents, and family members of Flight 93 passengers.

She said she tries to complete one interview every day.

“This is all like some gigantic puzzle,” Shaffer said. “It’s very rewarding.”

[Clergyman] Way, however, worries what emotional effect they could have on Shaffer.

“Somewhat, day to day, Kathie relives Sept. 11, 2001, through the life of somebody else,” Way said.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 03, 2006 in • Oral history in the newsOral History Projects
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Louisiana State University April 2 Open House includes Oral History

Sunday April 2, 2-5 pm at T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History: presentations about and from the oral history collection, which has over 2500 interviews. 2theadvocate news story; LSU Libraries Special Collections Page

Named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who was a pioneer in the scholarly use of oral history, the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History has collected more than 2,500 interviews to date.  On April 2, staff will speak about the center’s projects, such as documenting the Baton Rouge Bus Boycott, the experiences of Vietnamese refugees who relocated to Louisiana, and the center’s upcoming project working with the Pointe au Chein Tribe.  Presentations will start at 2:30, 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. Visitors will be able to talk with community members who participated in these projects, listen to interviews, and learn about how oral history preserves life stories that would otherwise ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 27, 2006 in • Oral history in the news
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Oral History in the news for week ending March 25

Roundup of news stories about Oral History this past week. From Dam builders to Dancers to Latino Vets, to US Senators… From Maori in New Zealand to Bangladesh to Appalaicha to Native Americans of Nevada.

  • CA Gold Country Exhibit for Folsom Dam at Folsom History Museum (from now till July, 2006) features oral history interviews of people who built the dam.  “We’re going to have an oral history booth where people can pick up a phone and listen to a clip of one person we interviewed who worked on Folsom Dam,” (I just read a biography of Wm Mulholland, who built the Aquaduct from Owens Valley to Los Angeles, so the memories of dam-builders intrigues me mightily!)
  • Rest in Peace, Doris Jones. Jones founded the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet, to provide dance training for others; she was denied training due to race. She lived to 92 and won awards and was featured in an oral history at ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Oral history in the news
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It’s not a recording, but it brings the history home

San Diego Union Tribune: Rancho Buena Vista High School holds USO Show and Oral Historians Day, hosting 95 veterans of World War II (wow!) to tell about their experiences in three 50-minute sessions. The students dressed in 1940s era clothes and put on USO show for the vets.

The veterans’ presentations, spread across campus in three 50-minute sessions, drove home history lessons that students had read in books and heard in lectures.

“This gave me a new perspective,” said Tyler Cottrell, a student who was Vielhauer’s guide for the day. “It made it very real for me.”

[...] “They are two generations coming together, separated by almost 60 years,” he said. “The students get real-life accounts of the war that’s different from textbooks, classroom lectures or videos. Our veterans really enjoy talking to the students.”

The event began at Rancho Buena Vista High School when a former student, whose grandfather was a Pearl Harbor survivor, approached the ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 18, 2006 in • Oral history in the news
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From Oral History to Readers’ Theatre

Traverse City, Michigan: The Voices Project presents “What Will Be in the Fields Tomorrow,” a Readers Theatre piece that took shape from oral history interviews for a documentary about small farmers and the challenges they face.

[Cynthia Vagnetti, Agriculatural/Rural Life researcher and Julie Avery, historian] decided that the project had wings beyond the television documentary that Vagnetti original created. They decided to give the piece a “stage presence” in order to let these voices continue their message. What they came up with is a Readers’ Theatre piece that gives a vehicle for the voices of farm women from the mid-west.

“Readers’ Theatre is often used by playwrights to get input into their work before it’s staged,” she said. “But also increasingly Readers’ Theater, as a process, is used a lot with social issues.”

Google search on “What Will Be In The Fields Tomorrow”

...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 09, 2006 in • AfterwardsOral history in the news
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A Story Retold: Australian Aborigines

National Indigenous Times: A documentary film about a 1916 massacre. “The Mowla Bluff Massacre tells of a little known moment in the Kimberley in 1916, but one that was typical of the Australian frontier experience. In the documentary, an Aboriginal community in Australia’s tropical northwest recounts the story of the execution of family members at Mowla Bluff by police and local pastoralists.”

Here’s a fascinating paragraph:

The oral history version of the story still carried by Nyikina, Mangala and Karijarri Elders today is substantially in accordance with the Aboriginal eyewitness statements documented but then dismissed by the police in 1918. This is despite the fact that these statements were buried in the police archives for the next 80 years and unknown to them.

Why fascinating? I’ve seen a lot of discussion about the role of memory, which can be a trickster: Oh, it’s unreliable, you oughtta have documents. Well, here’s the best part of uncovering the past: when the stories told from memory coincide with the documents.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on in • Oral history in the news
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An interview with David Isay, founder of StoryCorps

At Democracy Now, Amy Goodman interviews David Isay, founder of the StoryCorps project. It turns out that Amy Goodman is the one who gave David Isay his start. One radio documentary in particular showed Isay how significant asking questions on tape was in the lives of everyday people (quote follows after the jump). Isay also talks about Danny Perasa and Annie Perasa, who’ve become a kind of figurehead for the StoryCorps project. Danny came down with a fatal illness. NPR aired one last StoryCorps-style interview last Friday on Morning Edition. Later that day, Danny died.

I did a documentary about 13, 14 years ago with two kids growing up in a housing project in Chicago called the Ida B. Wells Projects where I gave them tape recorders and had them do a diary of their lives. I saw that when these kids took these tape recorders and interviewed say, their grand parents, that having a microphone and laying in bed with their grandmother and asking her these questions, allowed these kids to ask questions they wouldn’t normally get to ask. And created bonds that existed long after the tape recorder got turned off. And then when these relatives passed away, these tapes became enormously important to these young men. So that was really the beginning of Story ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on March 02, 2006 in • Oral history in the news
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NPR : Oral History Recalls the Reagan White House

I’m listening to today’s broadcast of NPR’s Talk of the Nation, which is discussing the President Reagan Oral History project. And playing excerpts. The guest is Steven Knott, associate professor and overseer of the Ronald Reagan Oral History Project at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. You can listen to the show with Real Player or Windows Media Player.

The discussion bounces back and forth between discussing Oral History (what it can and can’t do), President Reagan and his administraton, and the challenges that historians have in describing and analyzing a presidential administration. Oral History: “This is just one resource of which we’re very proud. ... documents can also be self-serving.” The transcripts will be available online on January 29th.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on January 24, 2006 in • Oral history in the news
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Using the tools of the oral historian to discover Osama

The Talking Points Memo Cafe Book Club focuses this week on The Osama bin Laden I Know: An oral history of al Qaeda’s Leader, by Peter L. Berger. With book excerpt and discussion of the Oral History Method used in the book

Peter Bergen’s own discussion to how he got started with this book—- a biographical treatment of bin Laden through those who’ve known him:

During the course of our chat, [the governor of a province in Afghanistan, Haji Deen] Mohamed, a genial white-haired former mujahideen commander, mentioned in passing that he had known bin Laden reasonably well in the 1989 to 1991 time period when the Saudi millionaire was helping the Afghan war effort against the communists. That comment started me thinking about who else might have spent time with bin Laden, who might be willing to speak to me. As it turned out there were around fifty people that I spoke to directly, who had had some encounter ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on January 20, 2006 in • Oral history in the news
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Oral History at school: Learning by doing: talking, listening

Arizona Republic: Prescott, AZ, area 8th graders are learning history by learning to do oral history.

Edward Berger, state coordinator for the Arizona Heritage Project at Sharlot Hall Museum, is working with eighth-grade students at Mingus Springs, teaching them how to interview people and record their stories.

...“We work with teachers who understand that kids need to be in the community, recording the histories of important people,” Berger said.

The purpose of teaching the kids how to interview significant people in the community is to have them create oral history projects to display in their schools, Berger said.

Also, Berger hopes to get the students’ projects to appear in museums in the state and possibly in the American Life Folk Center in the Library of Congress, which ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 28, 2005 in • Oral history in the news
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