There is an interesting article at the Oxford University Press blog about the intersection of oral history and defamation claims. It points out the need for oral historians of all sorts to not only keep an ear out for statements about criminal conduct from their interviewees, but also statements that could be potentially defamatory. The Internet has increased the availability of audio interviews and transcripts. Stories before have pinpointed the possible dangers of inaccurate transcription, but this story points out that there can still be complications arising from an accurately transcribed interview.
Posts Tagged ‘oral history’
American Life Histories is an amazing collection of life histories compiled by writers for the WPA from 1936-1940.
These oral history transcripts are an eye-opening thing to read through and also give a great sense of why oral history is such an important thing to collect and preserve. You can search through the transcripts by keyword or by state. There’s so much of interest there, including this excerpt from the stories of E. F. Forsgard of Waco, Texas:
“Four or five or six of these big gamblers would sometimes get together in one of their places and play poker. Sometimes the game would run for as long as a week. If one of them wanted to leave the game for awhile to take a nap or go out in town, he’d count up the money he had, the banker would make a note of it, and the gambler would stack it to one side on the table, and it would be there when he came back, even if he was gone a day or two.
A lot of gambling would go on right on the square. The cowboys, gamblers and Mexicans would come into town and tie their horses to the hitchrack on the square, spread down a blanket, get out their cards and have a game right there among their horses.”
The Study of History and Memory at Indiana University has a well done guide to oral history techniques which I think well reproduces what I’ve seen out of the best interviewers we’ve transcribed. Their site also has informed consent and deed of gift forms you can use, not to mention their own collection of oral history projects and interviews. This is definitely worth a read.
The Oral History Association has announced a call for papers for their 2010 annual meeting. With a theme of ‘times of crisis; times of change’ it should make for interesting reading.
The University of Florida reports on a $150,000 grant to preserve African-American history in Alachua County.
It’s always great to hear about more oral histories being taken. Once a generation dies their memories can’t be brought back. We’ve heard first hand some of the amazing, interesting or profound details you get out of an oral history interview that would never have been noted in a book or newspaper of the times. I hope that other institutions find the funds even in these times to keep oral history going so we don’t end up with any blank spots in our history.
There are some great guides to digital audio technologies at the Oral History Association’s web site. They walk you through choosing a recorder, how to use it, file formats, recording levels and everything you need to know to get started in digital recording. They then have some helpful links to videos of various recorder models available. A well done resource.