Here’s a roundup of stories about oral history in the news. One is for an event that takes place in Syracuse, NY, tomorrow at the Erie Canal Museum. Wish I could be there.
Syracuse, NY, Saturday, January 19, 1pm: Erie Canal Museum’s speaker series starts off with a session I’d like to attend: “Robert Arnold kicks off the series with “Myth and History: Distilling the Truth.” Sometimes accidentally and sometimes purposefully we mythologize our family and community histories, offering the future no service by doing so.”
Daily Mail (UK) reviews Studs Terkel’s book, Touch and Go, and gives a bit of profile of the man, telling how interactions with the residents of his parents’ boarding house shaped him: “These waifs and strays were the making of Terkel, teaching him how to listen and how to feel empathy.”
Now there’s a forward-thinking Grandpa: Winchester Star (in Virginia)‘s news archives of 100, 75, 50, 25 years ago today uncovers this: “Harry Lovett’s grandson is only 2 1/2. When he gets a little older, he’s in for a treat. As a present, his grandfather is recording an oral history of his life, including 61 years in Winchester.” The rest of the story is an accounting of what used to stand where in the town. That grandson ought to be 27-1/2 years old now, certainly of an age to appreciate what his Grandpa did.
Here comes the Sun: “After glimpsing the sun for the first time since late November, the community [of Igloolik, in the Canadian Arctic] gathered to celebrate its annual Return of the Sun festival.” The tradition being celebrated was lost for a time when the Inuit of Igloolik moved to settlements. And the tradition was rediscovered when (wait for it) when oral historians interviewed elders about Inuit astronomy and cosmology. Once they heard of the traditions, the people decided to revive the celebration. [Note: I saw the film Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) in 2002, and loved it. It’s an epic story from their oral tradition, made into a film. It’s out on DVD, so see it if you can. I can’t recommend this highly enough.)
Knox County, Maine: Youthlinks Completes Successful Oral History Report. Middle school students visited senior citizens weekly over a 12-week period, and recorded their oral histories. They visited, got to know the seniors, then got interview training, interviewed, and transcribed and completed interviews, which are now part of the Camden History Center. A nice description of the entire process. Youthlinks is an organization to give youth focused enrichment programs and meaningful volunteer opportunities, using youth-adult partnerships. Excellent. Commendable. I volunteer for a youth-adult partnership program called WriteGirl, which pairs professional women writers with teenage girls for weekly mentoring. So. very. good.
Eastern Carolina Alumni—Your Alma Mater wants you. Not to donate money (then again they always want that), but to tell your stories in an oral history project, especially if you’re the first member of your family to graduate from college.
SaveTibet.org: News of grants includes funding for two Tibetan oral history projects—one, to collect, and another, to publish oral histories. (nice foto at bottom)
Montreal, Quebec: Japanese history through pop culture: A profile of a new faculty member, Matthew Penney, whose initial interest in Japanese film blossomed into “Japanese popular culture of that country’s 20th-century war experience.” He plans to use oral history to “interview Japanese historians about how their own war experiences affected their scholarly publications about the conflict.”
Law.com: An oral history interview re-do. Stanford Law Prof Michele Landis Dauber interviewed Judge Stephen Reinhardt a decade ago; she’ll be interviewing him again. Two notes about subsequent interview: the judge is in a different stage of his career, so the topics to be covered are different, and, in the case of this particular judge, he decided to be more candid this time around. ““If I were going to have one [an oral history], I should do one that’s more honest.” (This story caught my eye because the first workshop I attended was taught by Brad Williams, who’s the oral historian for 9th Circuit Court of appeals.)
I haven’t seen anything about the Erie Canal Museum series in the local media! I see the link you have is from over in Oneida. Even the Museum’s own web page has almost no information! I wonder how many people they’ll have show up? I’m committed for tomorrow and not certain I can change my plans but I’ll mark my calendar for the others. Thanks for the link!