Presentation on theme: "Oral History Workshop History 300B March 9, 2009."— Presentation transcript:
Oral History Workshop History 300B March 9, 2009
Center for Oral & Public History Center for Oral & Public History California State University, Fullerton California State University, Fullertonhttp://coph.fullerton.edu/
Event Evidence Survival Repositories Access 9/11, war Newspapers, diaries, photographs Fires, floods, thrown away Archives, libraries, museums, person collections Must be available
What is Oral History? Valerie Yow : Oral history is the recording of personal testimony delivered in oral form. Donald Ritchie : collection of spoken memories and personal commentaries of historical significance through recorded interviews. From Internet (Answers.com): Historical information, usually tape-recorded or videotaped, obtained in interviews with persons having firsthand knowledge. Terms often used interchangeably with oral history: self-report, personal narrative, life story, memoir, life testament. Other terms used: life history, recorded memories, life review. (implies someone else involved)
Why is Oral History Important? historical documents and books can't tell us everything about our past. often concentrate on famous people and big events, and tend to miss the ordinary people living ordinary lives. Neglect people on the fringes of society, e.g., the poor, disabled, ethnic communities. Oral history fills the gaps and gives voice to history that includes everyone.
Oral History and Memory Remembering – Constructing Narratives from our Memories Even young children create stories from their memories Psychologist David Rubin shows that most people begin reminiscing in their forties. We remember what is important to us. Memory – Fallible or Trustworthy? Aging and Memory Consistencies in Feelings Individual Memory v. Collective Memory Whenever memory is involved, we need to ask: by whom, in what context?
Legal Stuff Copyright Who owns the material? Legal agreements Libel Libel is the published statement that is false and that is intended to harm a person’s reputation. Cannot libel someone who is deceased. Slander Defamation that is spoken. Anonymity Make copy of tape and include pseudonym Ack! What if they won’t sign the release?
A Few More Forms IRB Deed of Gift Restriction Agreement (we’ll talk about these a little bit more as they appear in the packet.)
Ethics and Privacy No taping without narrator’s knowledge Recording without narrator’s knowledge is invasion of privacy Doesn’t hurt to get narrator’s permission on tape Explain why and how oral histories will be used Don’t make promises you can’t keep Interviewers and transcribers must understand: this is confidential until completed. Remind narrators that information will be made public Revealing too much about personal life Revealing too much about ANOTHER person’s life
Before You Proceed Acquaint yourself with Oral History Association Check out other professional organizations Work with instructor or supervising entity Read, read, read!
Preparing for Oral History Project Do your homework – Research! Are there similar projects? Are we offering new information? Conceptualize the project What is it that we wish to accomplish? Focus How do we finance this project? This interview? Interviewing, Transcribing, Archiving
Interview Steps Identify narrators Letter of introduction Research People’s lives do not take place in a vacuum Prepare for pre-interview Develop questions/outline Recorders - Equipment
Equipment Analog tape v. digital files Magnetic tape still viewed as most stable Commitment to digital files Recorder Microphone Tapes
Preparation is the Key Equipment Questions/outline Directions Release forms Prompts Review your checklist Know your narrator
Agreement Form(s) Do YOU understand it? Can you explain it? Keep it visible Ask narrator to sign AFTER interview
More Forms! Labeling Cassette Creating Field Notes Creating Tape Log
And, Still More! Deed of Gift Understanding nature of use Restriction What’s reasonable? Role of rapport “It’s just my family.”
Developing Questions Who What When Where How Why How did you feel?
Format Introduction – on tape Narrator name, interviewer name, date, where interview is taking place, project name Verbal agreement Biographical sketch Parents, earlier years, schooling, adulthood “Meat” of the interview Closing remarks “Is there anything else you’d like to add?”
Questioning Opened-ended v. closed-ended questions What do you remember about your grandparents? What was your grandfather’s name? What kind of reception did the Cambodians receive when they moved into town? Was there prejudice against Cambodians moving to your town?
More Questions Childhood Teens Family Military Vocation Marriage/Family Religion Attitudes/beliefs Retirement Historic events Folklore, superstitions, customs, holidays, celebrating
Post-Oral History What do we do now? Publications Theatrical productions Museum exhibits Document events, businesses, community Identify artifacts and photographs Add to the historic record
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