Oral Historians

About the people who DO oral history. News and items of note.

Oral History Conference comes to Little Tokyo, Los Angeles March 31-April 3

SOHA logo. This year is the 30th anniversary of the Southwest Oral History Association. The Southwest Oral History Association (SOHA) holds its annual conference in Southern California every other year. This year: Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. Also this year: two days of hands-on computer lab workshops! I am on the conference committee, and have been working on preparation for this conference. And yes, I’m the computer lab coordinator. Plus, I’ll be teaching a workshop on digital audio Thursday, March 31. If you’re in Southern California, and want to know about how to conduct interviews, or learn other skills about capturing and preserving stories, this is your opportunity.

SOHA Work Ahead Each conference features a day of workshops, from an introduction to oral history to other topics. This year, there are seven (count them, seven!) workshops. Two different ways to approach project management, taking an oral history transcript to a theatrical performance, a session all about audio and recording. Those workshops all take place Friday, April 1. (No fooling!)

The two days of computer lab workshops: Digital Audio and Digital Video.

There’s a three-workshop lineup that’s especially good if you’re starting out and want to capture the stories of your community: Intro to Oral History and the two project management workshops.

Friday night is a reception and film ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on February 25, 2011 in • Do it: Learn HowOral Historians
(0) CommentsPermalink

Tonight on HBO - Studs Terkel: Listening to America

Studs Terkel Just got word there’ll be a documentary tribute to Studs Terkel, 1 day before what would have been his 98th birthday. The documentary by Eric Simonson looks at the man behind the oral histories of everyday people.

“What he did for a living is hard to describe to somebody who doesn’t know his work,” says Simonson, who spent numerous hours with his subject at Terkel’s North Side home—a pack rat’s paradise by the lake. ” ‘He’s an oral historian.’ Well, what does that mean? ‘And he’s a radio man.’ Well, so what? What does that mean? It’s really the force of Studs’ personality that makes him who he was, so I was trying to sift through all this footage to find the most quintessential looks at Studs Terkel and who he was and why it is he meant so much to many people.”

Terkel appears in it (his last interview for the film was recorded six months before his death in October, 2008). The Chicago Sun ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 15, 2010 in • InterviewingOral HistoriansOral history in the news
(0) CommentsPermalink

At the Oral History Association Conference in Pittsburgh

Hello from Pittsburgh. I’m here for the Oral History Association annual meeting (conference). The theme: Oral History in the Digital Age. Today is the “workshops” day, with in-depth instruction on a number of topics.

Intro to Oral History interviewing (Oral History for newbies), Two part workshop on field recording—digital audio and digital video (I’m attending the digital video workshop). Oral History and the Law (agreements with interviewees, and how do you construct them to make an interview available to an archive or institution in perpetuity for the long-term?), digital preservation, “transforming the transcript” and a hands-on workshop for working with digitized audio and video using a particular software setup.

I’ll give a report about the digital video workshop. I’ve always wanted to cover digital video as well as audio. My strengths are in audio, and this is a good way to get up to ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on October 15, 2008 in • Do it: Learn HowOral Historians
(0) CommentsPermalink

Happy Birthday, Studs Terkel. In his honor: Tell stories!!!

image Studs Terkel is 96. In his honor, today’s been declared the International Day of Telling Life Stories.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 16, 2008 in • Digital StorytellingOral Historians
(0) CommentsPermalink

Oral History’s Dirty Little Secret

Stud Terkel’s People. Harry Maurer, author of Not working (an oral history of unemployment that’s a zags off of Terkel’s Working zig), reflects on oral history, and Studs Terkel.

After finishing Not Working, Studs Terkel invites Maurer onto his radio show.

Soon there we were, across a table in the WFMT studio, the celebrated author of Working interviewing the rookie author of Not working, Studs voluble, fizzy with energy. He quickly zeroed in on something I had remarked upon: that no matter how people lose their job, even if they have been laid off with hundreds or thousands of others, they usually feel a sense of failure and shame, that somehow it is their fault. Studs saw the suffering in that, and saw that it stems, at least in part, from the American every-man-for-himself ethos we breathe in from the cradle. That fit with what I knew about Studs from ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 26, 2007 in • Oral Historians
(0) CommentsPermalink

Yearning and Family History (from the Oral History Assn conference)

“Yearning,” she called it. Yearning. Her word leapt at me with all the force of being the right, true, word describing what’s within me. Her story: An experienced oral history interviewer visits a distant family member and is very quickly drawn into a story of trauma, of holocaust, of fractured families. The Q & A brought forth uncanny connections between her story, and other stories of fracturing, family, holocaust and slavery.

The panel at the Oral History Association conference in Oakland was called Community and Individual Memory. One presentation, about how the City of Fremont celebrated its 50th anniversary, is worth its own short post. This post is about a presentation by Rina Benmayor,  on yearning and family interviewing.

Benmayor is one of the founders and directors of the CSUMB  Oral History and Community Memory Institute and Archive. She’s an experienced oral history interviewer. In her presentation, she describes how, after doing some family research, she went to northern Greece to visit a relative (grandmother’s cousin*), whom she calls “Duka.” They had not met before. Benmayor brought her ...Read More

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 18, 2007 in • InterviewingOral HistoriansPersonal History
(1) CommentsPermalink

Back from the Oakland Conference

I’m back from the Oakland Oral History Association conference, and overwhelmed with catch-up-to-do. There were too many good panels to attend. Some that touched on the topic of interviewing family, and others on dealing with digital media. I took copious notes (how else do you remember what happened in such a condensed, info-packed place?) and will be offering a couple of posts with session highlights.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on November 01, 2007 in • HousekeepingOral Historians
(0) CommentsPermalink

Southwest Oral History Association Annual Meeting

I’ll be attending the Annual Meeting of SOHA– The Southwest Oral History Association in Fullerton Friday-Sunday. (It’s within driving distance. Yay.) Don’t know if I’ll be live-blogging any sessions or not, but I’ll schlep the powerbook along, so it’s likely there’ll be something posted while I’m there.

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on April 19, 2007 in • Oral Historians
(0) CommentsPermalink

Willa Baum, 1926-2006

An obituary for Oral Historian Willa Baum, written by her son, Brandon. “Her pioneering work in oral history methodology and interview techniques served asjavascript:void(0); the foundation for the establishment and growth of oral history as a unique academic discipline.” She’s the author of two books on Oral history, and Co-editor of an anthology.

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

Posted by Susan A. Kitchens on May 26, 2006 in • Oral HistoriansOral history in the news
(2) CommentsPermalink