And My Heart Broke

Do you know what it feels like to watch history fade away before your own eyes and not be able to do a thing to save it? Do you know how it feels to know that within a short period of time, certain invaluable memories will be erased?  It pulls at my heart in a way similar to an abandoned house doomed for demolition does or the way lonesome washed-up towns look in photographs. This is partially a result of knowing that no one else has bothered to save this history and partially because I can’t do anything about it.

If you have ever worked in the oral history field or conducted research using oral history, there is a good chance that you know exactly what I mean.  Oral history has its positives and negatives, just like any form of research. It captures stories that would have never been heard or found otherwise, but your research is often at the mercy and kindness of your interviewees.  Ethically, you cannot interview someone and use that information without their permission. Interviewees must sign (what I call) a Deed of Gift form, which grants permission for the transcript and recording in the current project and sometimes, future use. The majority of interviewees are happy to sign the form and aid the project, but some people will refuse.

I have had a few people refuse to sign a deed of gift in my oral history experience. And no matter how much you explain to them the benefits of the particular project or show them exactly how their transcript and recordings will be used, no matter how much you reason with them, they will not concede. And there are only so many rounds of discussions you can have before it’s just too much and too exhausting (mentally and emotionally) and there is no more you can do.

Why would someone refuse? The reasons vary, but in my experience it has been because he or she did not like how the interview transcript read. Most people are shocked by their spoken words being directly translated on to paper. We all speak differently than we write, so reading oral history transcripts can be quite the trip. I assume only the most eloquent public speakers have near perfect transcripts.  This shock turns into vanity, which can be easily erased with the explanation of the transcript use.

Except for one case that I know: One interviewee could not fathom sharing this transcript (or even a few paragraphs of excerpts) with the public because she felt that she sounded less than educated, whereas she had indeed attended higher education to earn her M.A. After over one year of discussing and trying to convince her by demonstrating uses of the transcripts and explaining its value, she finally decided once and for all that she would not participate.

And my heart broke. Her memories are so important and rare and would complement the rest of the project. I should mention that her transcript read just fine, on par with the best interviews. It’s so sad to me that people could let vanity get in the way of sharing history, especially when they might be of the few who still know that information. Now, I cannot pass on this interview, not even to the archives. Nor can I tell this story because I’d have to cite the interview.  And so the memories will disappear.

___

Readers, am I missing anything? Is there a solution I haven’t found? Please help if you can.

Humble Roots

A common occurrence while working on an oral history project is discovering the humble nature of interviewee subjects. Another recurring scenario is people mentioning that someone in the family had photographs, but they were lost so many years ago, whether because it was misplaced, damaged, or just forgotten. In some cases, the interviewees have photographs buried in basements and attics, though they just don’t have the time to find them. I understand, but it still pulls at my heart.

One of my favorite interview participants mentioned that her sister had an album years ago. She remembered pictures of herself and siblings at the beach in floppy hats and at Christmastime. Then she said to me, “I don’t know where the pictures are. They wouldn’t mean nothing to nobody else, but I would like to have them.”

It’s a bittersweet thought, to me, one that I like to recall over and over. Actually, those photographs probably would mean a lot to my research and everyone connected to the project. But, probably in this sweet old lady’s mind, they are just pictures of her family and they lived a common life just like everyone else. These are the people I enjoy interviewing. They have important knowledge because of who they are and what they lived, but throughout the entire research process, they will maintain that they are like anyone else.

And it’s always a reminder after hearing these stories how everyone is an important part of history.

Break Out those Recorders

As historians, archaeologists, and historic preservationists, we spend much of our time researching the lives of others, people we never knew, and people to whom we do not have a connection.  We learn these family histories so well that we know the birthdays, occupations, and interests of our research subjects.  Yet, as you sit around your Thanksgiving table each year with your siblings, cousins, parents, grandparents, and other family members, do you ever consider documenting your own family history? Do you ask questions of your family like you would in your research?

If only the people that we are researching had recorded their family histories, then our research would be much easier. Whether it’s a family tree or a detailed family history, keeping all of the information in one place is a priceless family heirloom.  Even if your relatives have not fought in wars, saved the world, or traveled extensively, it is still important to learn your family history.

Of course, I’m guilty of the same thing. Oral history is my job. I talk to people about their lives and research their family history quite often. But by the time I get home from work, I’m tired of doing research. I listen to family stories and talk to my relatives, but I haven’t recorded these stories yet, whether with an audio recorder or on paper. It’s something I need to do. I own a handheld audio recorder, so this is not my impeder.

Some of your family members may find it strange that you would take the time to record them, or they might be uncomfortable. My advice is to talk about it first, give them time to think, and express how important it is for family history and how much you would enjoy the opportunity.  And if you’re not inclined to do audio recording, taking the time to write what you have heard is the next best thing.  After all, photographs can only tell so much about people. We need the back stories to the situations and the people.

Just think about it. Everyone has a story to tell. You can collect stories bit by bit, just be sure to label (date, name) whatever is that you have (audio, text).  Start small. Write down what you know about your family. How did your parents meet? How did your grandparents meet? Those are easy questions that most people are willing to answer. As you do this more frequently you can get into the more open-ended questions.

You don’t have to be a professional. You don’t even have to be a historian. You just have to ask and listen. And someday remember to share these stories with your family, whether in a book, a word file, a blog, or something else.  Your family with thank you.

Thank You for Your Service to the United States

Happy Veterans Day to the men and women who have served in the United States Military, whether in active duty, basic training, or in any capacity.  Thank you for your service to our country. And thank you to those of you who will be veterans someday. It is because of all of you that the rest of us live in freedom and not worry about our lives on a day to day basis. I’m sure I speak for the majority of the population when I say that I am eternally grateful and hold you in highest regards. 

Whether you have a relative, a friend, a spouse, a colleague, or anyone you know who has served in the military, please take the few minutes to send them a thank you today. It doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary, but a simple thank you for your service to our country will suffice. It will most likely mean a lot to that person. Forget your view on the war and the government; the soldiers are still protecting our rights as Americans.

Understanding the history of Veteran’s Day will perhaps enhance your appreciation of today. Originally Veterans Day was known as Armistice Day because it is acknowledged that World War I officially ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, 1918.  From the Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Day History webpage: 

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued a “Veterans Day Proclamation” to establish Armistice Day as a day to recognize all veterans. If you are wondering about the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Memorial Day is honoring those who died in battle or those who were wounded in battle and later died. Veterans Day honors the living veterans for their service.

Most of us, if we do not grow up around the military environment, do not have the opportunity to talk to veterans about their experiences or see soldiers and veterans anywhere aside from parades. That was the case for me anyway. Several family members of mine did serve in the military, but I never really talked to any of them about it until I took Professor Stanton’s American Folklore class at Mary Washington. In this class, we had the honor of participating in the Veterans History Project. Students took various routes to finding interviewees for the oral history project. I was fortunate to interview my uncle who served during the Vietnam War. Most people who I know who have served in the military during a war do not spend much time talking about it. The same is true with my relatives. For this reason, I was honored to talk to my uncle, as much for family history as for American history. 

Many of the interviews from the Veterans History Project are available online, including the interview with my uncle, James H. Robb. The interview recording and transcription are available online. I am grateful to Professor Stanton for taking the time and energy to make sure that we did everything correctly in order to officially submit our interviews and transcripts to the Library of Congress. School children of all ages – elementary school to college – can participate in the project. It is an incredible and valuable initiative. 

And most importantly, thank you, Uncle Jimmy, for your service during the Vietnam War. 

Happy Veterans Day.

Spooky Neighborhood Folklore

Children tend to create stories in their social circles, often stories intended to scare their friends before daring them to touch the haunted house or look in  that window. Every group (whether societal or cultural) shares familiar stories, experiences, riddles, etc. – what we might call folklore. According to The American Folklore Society, folklore is defined as: the traditional art, literature, knowledge, and practice that is disseminated largely through oral communication and behavioral example. Many more definitions can be found on the website, with varying definitions that all add further depth the study of folklore.

Halloween seems like an appropriate holiday on which to discuss folklore, even though folklore goes far and beyond shared spooky tales of children.  Yet, the antics of children are included, so I’m going to share some of the tales from my neighborhood when I was in elementary and middle school.

The Witch’s House

A brown, dreary looking ranch house, just two houses past mine, had been unoccupied for a few months and it was starting to look rather creepy.  My good friend Sara and I would routinely sit on the edge of my neighbor’s property and peer through the hedges just to get a glimpse at the house. We wanted to get as close as possible without actually crossing the property line.

One gloomy, cloudy day, Sara and I decided to walk past the house.  She stopped me in the middle of the street and swore that she saw someone’s hand on the window sill. And then she saw something move!  Always easily scared, I believed her and we ran back to my house.  We were convinced that a witch lived in the house.

Sara had likely imagined her vision and exaggerated it because she knew that I would believe her, but I avoided that house thereafter.  This is the same friend who later told me she saw a ghost in my other neighbor’s window.

The Woods behind Norwood Avenue

Now the property is a gated community of town houses and swimming pools, but 15 years ago, the woods behind my elementary school yard were filled with garbage and the creepiest thing imaginable to my nine-year-old self.  These woods scared me so much that if I was at the school yard on a weekend with my sisters and we were swinging on the swings, I wouldn’t face my back to the woods.

Two of my friends, Elisabet and Amy, and I always played together at recess and we would often talk about how scary the woods were.  One day the girls told me that one of their brothers had actually gone into the woods.  And he saw all sorts of garbage.  But then, he saw a gun leaning against a tree and he was chased out of the woods!

The story has since faded from my memory (i.e. I’m finally over it), so the details are fuzzy, but the images of a gun and a psycho killer living in the woods hung in my imagination for a long time and I wished that I had never heard the story. I would never walk near the fence separating the school yard and the woods.

Elisabet and Amy either also found me very gullible or their brothers passed along an exaggerated, scary story to a couple of fourth graders.

Gun Shots

One winter afternoon, Sara and I were playing outside in the big maple tree in front of my house, which was a common activity for us. We heard noises that sounded like gun shots from far away.  (Of course, I didn’t really know what gun shots sounded like since I was growing up in a house full of girls who didn’t watch such things on television.  Regardless, we assumed the sounds were gun shots.)

We froze. Sara and I looked around, wondering what was happening.  Suddenly, Sara told me that she saw someone in a car parked on the side of the street.  And she said that she saw a gun.  (Sara had a wild imagination.)  So we didn’t move.  It felt like forever. We thought that if we just pretended to be part of the tree, then no one would see us. However, there were not any leaves on the trees and we probably had on brilliantly colored early 1990s jackets.

I think we spent most of our afternoon frozen in the tree.  I don’t remember how we finally convinced ourselves to go inside.

Sara was not an evil friend, just to clarify this. I think she just liked to pretend.  It’s probably caused some damage and can attributing to my distaste for scary movies, but it was always an adventure with Sara.

The Old Man’s House

Around the bend in my street, there is a house that has always been a mystery to my sisters and me.  It’s a large lot, mostly hidden by tall maple trees and large shrubbery, and barricaded from the public by a four foot chain link fence and a really tall mailbox. For the longest time, there was a hole in the roof and cats would come and go as they pleased, through the hole.  It often smelled like cat urine around that bend.  Occasionally I’d see a light through the window or the front door would be open just a crack.

Needless to say, it was spooky. Probably after years of gazing at the house as I passed on my bike or in the car, I finally saw a tall, skinny old man who lived there.  I asked my mom many questions. But what did he do? Where did he go?  Did he ever leave the house? Why did he have so many cats?

This man and this house is still a mystery to us, but the roof has since been replaced, following the tarp that protected it for a while.  However, it’s still a dark and hidden house with cats all around.

These stories are vaguely tied to folklore, but I do think it’s interesting to hear the stories that children tell each other and how these stories affect what they do.  I think it can be categorized as folklore because it can help to define a certain group (in this case children of one neighborhood) by how they play and what they believe.  I wonder if children younger than my friends and I believed the same stories, years later.

What do you think about the folklore of children? Should it be studied? Can it be studied? (Or has it been?)  Or am I off the mark? Please feel free to share your thoughts.

I’m still easily scared.

Happy Halloween!

OHA Highlights: Interesting Oral History Projects

Most of you probably do not want to relive every detail that I could describe about the Oral History Association conference. Fair enough. Instead, I’m listing highlights of oral history projects that I learned about during the sessions.  Enjoy!

Makin’ Do. The University of Mississippi – Department of History.

This project is about the life of women in rural Union County in Mississippi who came of age during the World War II years.  Women were asked about their lives, what they did on a daily basis, and their families.  A general theme that appeared was how they all “made do” with what they had, often by selling eggs from their chickens to make ends meet.  The website is not fully operational yet, as the project is not completely finished, but the stories shared are wonderful. Click here to see the website with the flash introduction. 

Utah Parks Company Collection. Southern Utah University.

This oral history project is pure fun – employees from the early decades of the Utah National Parks have shared their memories of summers when they worked for the National Park Service.  Tales of pranks, gear jammers (bus drivers), washing dishing, putting on shows, singing goodbye to the visitors, and silly questions from visitors such as “What time do they turn on the lights in the Grand Canyon” make this project one that highlights the National Park Service.  Currently the collection of photographs is housed on the SUU’s library, but will be on its own website with the oral histories in the future. (This project also made me want to visit the west even more!)

Catholic Chicago. Chicago History Museum.

Catholic Chicago is an oral history project that is the first in a series of exhibits at the Chicago History Museum, which will document how religious communities shaped Chicago.  However, since exhibits are temporary, the project directors decided to add the oral histories to the website in order to always have a way to reach the project. I loved this project for its innovative means to do the oral history project. High school students were selected (applications required) to do this project. They were required to sign a one-year contract and they worked 40 hours per week in the summer and Saturdays during the school year to learn about Catholicism, find interviewees, conduct the interviews, and interpret them.    Aside from revealing powerful information about Chicago’s history, the methods of using high school students as a way to bring the community to the project is amazing.

Trappings: Stories of Women, Power and Clothing. A Book by Two Girls Working: Tiffany Ludwig and Renee Piechocki.

Not a session, but a book and a book signing event at the OHA, I only had a chance to pick up a postcard about the book.  The artists and authors spent six years interviewing 500 women by asking the same question, “What do you wear that makes you feel powerful.”  I like the idea that oral history can be lighthearted and empowering at the same time, allowing people to express themselves, individually and collectively, to connect with other people.  Check out the website for information about the book and the oral history project.

OHA Reflection #2

The best part of the conference, for me, was Saturday morning from 10:15-12:00, which was the Digital and Community Showcase.  Similar in format to a poster session, only with more digital aspects or posters showcasing digital projects, the purpose of this was to engage in conversation with others who were interested in your project or whose project interested you.  All of the participants in this showcase were demonstrating how they have adapted to the newest technology and in which directions they are taking oral history projects.  My colleague and I presented on Overhills during this showcase. 

Overhills at the Community and Digital Showcase, OHA 2008

Overhills at the Community and Digital Showcase, Oral History Association 2008

During the showcase, people asked us about Overhills as a place, about the oral history project, and about how we are presenting the oral history project. Explaining how we are presenting it is something that makes us proud.  The project is not complete yet (estimated completion, early 2009), but the brief explanation is that we are producing (with the help of a contractor) a flash program which will offer a virtual tour of Overhills.  Viewers will have the opportunity to learn about Overhills through interview clips and photographs, organized by topics, through a timeline that offers brief decade by decade history, or through the interactive map which will help to spatially orient the viewer on these 10,500 acres. The interactive map begins with a base map, from which a viewer can choose certain areas of the estate. This area map then links to individual buildings with photographs, building histories, and information about the people who lived there.  Our hope is that anyone will find this presentation of public history interesting, as it faciliates a self-guided tour during which the viewer is never locked in to topic or media section.
 
If you’re interested in learning more about our interactive flash media project, please let me know. I’d be happy to answer any questions. Once the project is complete, it will be available to anyone by contacting the Fort Bragg Cultural Resources office.
 
I always enjoy talking to people about Overhills and explaining the oral history project, particularly because we are attempting to take it beyond typical oral history research, by combining all of our available elements.  People at the showcase responded well.  Let me know what you think!
 
More interesting sessions from the OHA to follow, and photographs, as well a few side trips.  And then Preservation in Pink will resume to normal programming. Thanks for reading!

OHA Reflection #1

Oral history is not the most common field, whether associated with historic preservation, folklore, anthropology or another field. Typically when someone asks me what I do, it takes a well constructed response to allow that person to understand oral history.  Some people have never heard of it, some people have a vague idea of the process and purpose, and some are not interested (thankfully, I rarely encounter such a person.)

However, at the Oral History Association, everyone knows exactly what I mean if they ask me about my profession. Being at the OHA is a completely new environment for me. Suddenly I’m surrounded by hundreds of people who are passionate about oral history and excited and working hard in their communities or even nationally to bring oral history to as many people as possible.  The workshops and sessions are inspiring, humbling, and reassuring all at the same time.  Having the opportunity to hear about other projects and how people are employing oral history in order to accomplish their goals is wonderful. Some people have been doing oral history for decades while others have just started.  The range of project s and thoughts provides a diverse field that makes for good discussion and education.  

What makes me smile the most is the sense of community that oral historians have found existing among their interviewees, whether the interviewers have helped to create it or have helped to find that feeling again.  Everyone who has worked on an oral history project has faced similar challenges: reluctant interviewees, those who do not believe that they have anything of value to say, obtaining access to the community, whether geographic, social, or other, funding obstacles, the race against time, obtaining release forms, etc. The list is long. Another universal and more important experience is how rewarding their efforts are, for the oral historians and for the communities and individuals that they have interviewed.  It’s a pleasure to hear fellow oral historians discussing these projects and their favorite experiences.  You can tell that interviewers will never forget their subjects, the discussions, or the voices. The projects are extremely diverse, which proves to me how widespread the field is and how human it is to want to share stories and discover the past and pass it along to others.  Other fields cannot capture what oral history is able to capture, no matter what the subject.  Oral history is how we view ourselves and share our views with fellow humans.  

This conference is providing me with constant reflection and evaluation of oral history and historic preservation, so much so that I cannot keep up with myself. I think that the best conferences and lessons will allow you to walk away with a continued belief in your own project, new knowledge about what you should be doing (or what to correct), and an understanding of what everyone else is doing in the field. So far, the OHA does not disappoint me; everyone is friendly and incredibly knowledgeable, interesting, and interested in the work of everyone else.  It is a positive experience. 

[In another post, I will feature highlights of the conference sessions – but it’s not over yet. In upcoming posts: oral history & the law, digital preservation of oral history, other oral history projects, and plenary sessions.]

Oral History & Me? It’s Complicated.

You know how it goes. You’re tired, you’re covered in dirt, your brain hurts, and you want a glass of water or a soda or something stronger.  You can’t bear the thought of measuring one more darn window sill or trying to accurately document a door frame.   At what point does it become ridiculous? Or you can’t lift one more screen of dirt. Yes, you’ve succumbed to just referring to it as dirt and rocks.  Or you’ve transcribed hours of interviews and if you have to replay one more line of recording, you’re going to explode! 

Sometimes our work is exhausting and excruciating.  Sometimes it’s all we have to keep doing what we’re doing because it gets monotonous and plain difficult. Where is the light at the end of the tunnel, we may ask.   

In my oral history line of work, I have listened to recordings and excerpts from recordings and read the text excerpts more times than I would ever want to count.  I’ve heard everyone’s voices so many times that I can truly hear their voices in my head. When I’m reading a piece of the transcript, I remember the inflection of a particular word before I hear it.  Do you call this a sickness? Perhaps it is an acquired skill?  Maybe it is an inherent skill? No matter what the cause, you can see what oral history does to a person.

However, I imagine that all fields benefit from the suffering that our brains incur by absorbing the information.  This is how one becomes an “expert.”  [Readers: examples from your branch of preservation are welcome!] And while I may complain about the tedious nature of oral history once in a while, I realize that without this occasional redundancy, I would not understand my project as well.  I’d have to look up something that an interviewee said rather than automatically have it in the front of my brain.  Having everything at hand saves time and assists in compiling the history I’ve learned. A necessary evil? 

I have come to think of my project, Overhills, as a sibling.  No matter how much this place drives me crazy and how much I want to escape sometimes, I love it dearly. I love everything about Overhills: the environment, the people, the buildings, and the history.  I love the fact that I do remember about 90% of what my interviewees said during an interview.  I love that I know the community of Overhills because of my indulgence in the oral history project.  No matter how mad it makes me, it can always make me smile.

And thus I tell myself: these are the sorts of trials that we must face in our professions in order to do our very best and to offer our subjects of study what they deserve. Whether a building, a community, a landscape, or the unknown: without hard work, memorization, immersion, and tirelessness (okay, and tiredness), all aspects of the historic preservation field require our unwavering devotion.  And these subjects forgive our times of frustration because they know we’ll come crawling back to them to continue our research and studies. It’s a labor of love. Thankfully, I have found a balanced love-hate relationship to be healthy.   But, still, my feelings are complicated.

Oral History Musings

Among oral historians, there is much discussion on transcription, editing, and how we as interviewers and historians influence and interpret the experience. There are so many factors of influence.  Of course, as historians we influence what someone will say and then how other people will experience what has been said.  From choosing which questions to ask, how to direct the interview, transcription decisions, and what is most important to share with others – an oral history becomes a product of many people.

 

One of the problems historians face is the fact that they are in the present world.  Unless someone has been living as if he were in that particular time period, modern ideas, conventions, speech all affect how he views and thinks about a subject.  It’s innate and inevitable. I don’t mean to say that people cannot get over this characteristic, but no matter what – someone looking at the present vs. history will always think differently. 

 

Oral history is just what it is – it’s not 100% accurate due to memory and time and nostalgia, but it’s not necessarily less accurate than anything else.  It’s slow; it’s stuttering speech; it’s changing what someone is saying in the middle of saying something else; it’s a big collection of information.  [For a good article see: Susan Emily Allen Resisting the Editorial Ego]

 

An issue that I face at work is deciding how well the interviews are represented in the final product (to be a multimedia cd-rom exhibit with audio, photographs, an interactive map, and a timeline).  Is the project using the full potential of the interviews?  What is the purpose of this project?  These are questions to consider when explaining the oral history project (project meaning what will be presented to the public).  This is quite the task with a property that covers 10,500 acres, almost 100 years, and interviewees varying in ages from 50-90 all of whom lived there at different times, and the fact that is a complicated place.

 

I think it’s hard to capture the full life of every interview without listening to a large portion of every interview.  But in reality, people would not want to listen to every interview. Why not? Because they are slow. Because there are so many false starts and changing of thoughts in the middle of sentences.  Because people don’t have that much time. Because not everything in an interview is interesting – sometimes it’s just chatter.  For these reasons, the multimedia project fits our goals perfectly.

 

And yes, my voice will filter into parts of the multimedia because of photograph captions and deciding what goes in the timeline.  But it’s inevitable.   I think combining oral history with present interpretations is sometimes necessary and beneficial. I don’t think that takes away from the value of oral history.

 

Everyone views oral history differently.  I can see it with three varying definitions. Oral history is a practice (interview, transcribe, share), a means to research (by listening and reading materials from the interview), and a subject (how can we do this best? What is the most accurate?  How can we best convey this material to people?)  All uses and methods of oral history are worthwhile.

 

I don’t claim to be an expert; I’m merely a novice at oral history, considering I’ve only really (professionally) had this 2-3 year project and even though it’s been 30 interviews, it’s just one subject.  Judging by how different every interview is, I don’t know that I could ever become an expert.  But, I don’t think there is anything wrong with sharing oral history in the format of excerpts, whether audio or text.  The reason we do oral history (there it is, as a practice!) is to learn about a particular subject so we can share it. Information is no good unless it’s shared.  Oral history gives people identity and connects them to a period or place or group from which they would be otherwise removed.  Humans like hearing from humans. 

 

During my relatively short stint of oral history work so far, I’ve come to my own conclusions that oral history will serve a different purpose for every person and every project, and that’s okay.  Transcription should match the interview as close to verbatim as possible and any sort of variation needs to be noticeable and in brackets.  Some oral history projects will be more formal than others.  There is room for all types of oral history and all three forms of it. (Please note that this is just my own way of thinking, nothing tested or proven.)  If oral history is respected and used ethically then it is just as valuable as typical historical text and research, possibly more so if it has the effect of getting people interested in history. 

 

Two more good articles to read: 1) Transcription: Shadow or Reality by David King Dunaway and 2) For the Record: Editing and Production of Meaning in Oral History by Carl Wilmsen.  All three articles mentioned in this post I found through JSTOR in the Oral History Review. 

 

*Note: If you have access to JSTOR or another research database, just search for “oral history” and you will find a wealth of articles by people who are a lot more qualified than I am to talk about oral history and more fluent when doing so.  My thoughts are mine only, probably influenced by articles I have recently read, but not necessarily indicative of the oral history field. I welcome debate and lessons.