Stories of the dying

West Australian, Annice Henderson, has been privileged to hear some remarkable stories in 20 years of working with the dying, as she helps them to record messages for their family.  Mrs Henderson,  is a volunteer with Silver Chain’s Hospice Care Services which provides palliative care in the home, grief counselling and other support services to dying people and their families.  Click here for the full story.

This type of recording is often referred to as “dignity therapy” as it allows the dying to validate their lives in a dignified way by someone who is willing to listen and record their stories.  OHAA Qld has touched on this aspect of oral history in the past and will explore it more fully in a future newsletter.

How the passion for oral history can begin

This is a lovely story about a man named Don Norton who for Christmas of 1964, interviewed his father for two hours recording  the events of his life.  Norton then transcribed the session, laboriously typed it out on a manual typewriter and surprised his father with the gift, which was placed in a large envelope marked, “Do not open until Christmas.” When the family was sitting around the tree that year and his father opened the envelope and saw what the gift was, he wept.  Since then Don has gone on to interview more than 100 veterans in his community in Orem, Utah.  For the fully story, click here.

One day oral history conference in Bangalore

One of oral history’s great practitioners Dr Robert Perks, director and lead curator, National Life Stories, British Library, London, spoke at the recent conference ‘Oral History and the Sense of Legacy’ in Bangalore, describing oral history as “spoken evidence”.  One of the projects discussed at the conference was the gathering of the testimonials of survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy.  For more information click here and here.

USA’s largest homeland disaster during WWII

Officials at the University of California, Berkeley’s Regional Oral History Office are looking to a July 23 memorial service for the hundreds of servicemen and civilians killed and hurt in this disaster to aid the office’s search for first-hand accounts of the 1944 accident that helped desegregate the U.S. military.  The Regional Oral History Office (ROHO) has initiated interviews with surviving witnesses to the explosion of more than 5,000 tons of TNT while mainly African-American sailors loaded munitions in Port Chicago, California.  320 servicemen and civilians died.  For more information about this interesting and little known event, click here.

Capturing oral histories at South Australian agricultural shows

Barossa Valley-based television host Cherie Hausler has been attending South Australian agricultural shows, and discovered not only a feisty spirit of competition but also a window into the culture and community that thrives in regional SA. Hausler has developed a television show that involves travelling around to the various agricultural shows in SA, competing, and cooking with some of the characters she meets along the way.  She is trying to capture the rich oral history, the expertise and high standards agricultural shows foster.  For full story click here.

South African Oral History Conference

The 8th National Oral History Conference will be held from 11 to 14 October 2011 in North West Province, South Africa.  The conference theme is “Past Distortions, Present Realities, (Re)Construction(s) and (Re)Configuration(s) of Oral History”.  Click here and then click on the conference theme on left side of page for more information.


School students as interviewers

Here are two examples of school students interviewing local residents as part of their school curriculum.  The first is American Studies Oral History Project 2011.  Some of the interviews are with war veterans, even recent veterans from current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The second is a story about students in the American town of Hannibal who have funds from their town council to make a documentary film about the residents of their town – click here.  We could do projects like this here and it would be good to find a way to encourage schools to undertake similar projects.