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Students interview Holocaust Survivors

“Kids can change the world,” said Tova Fish-Rosenberg, founder of Names, Not Numbers — a national non-profit that is an intergenerational Holocaust oral history film documentary project. She was speaking of students from Kellman Brown Academy, a Jewish day school in Voorhees, New Jersey, and KIPP Lanning Square Middle School, based in Camden, New Jersey, who divided into small groups and interviewed Holocaust survivors on film.” Read full story here and see the “Names, Not Numbers” website here, where you can see some interviews.

1918/19 Flu Pandemic

“The worst pandemic in recent history, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was the 1918 so-called “Spanish flu” pandemic, caused by a virus “with genes of avian origin.” This was caused by a different virus than COVID-19 – coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, hopkinsmedicine.org. Spanish flu hit America in the spring of 1918 and wasn’t finished with us until the summer of 1919.”  For full story click here. Here’s a link to the transcript of an oral history done with a nurse who worked during the pandemic.

Dorothea Lange – Photographer

“With the Dust Bowl’s defining image as her massive claim to fame (you would be hard-pressed to find a high school history teacher’s 1930s PowerPoint that doesn’t include “Migrant Mother”), it’s perhaps too easy to forget that while Lange’s images have always spoken to us, her subjects weren’t always able to speak for themselves.
“As we were working on [the show], we read from Lange’s oral history, and she says that all photographs can be fortified by words,” Sarah Meister explains, “I thought, I totally disagree. But what an amazing statement from someone who dedicated their life to making images. It got us going on the question of whether it felt urgent, now, to look at Lange more deeply.
For full story click here. See Lange’s oral history here and here.

Generation Gulag

From 1918 to 1987, Soviet Russia operated a network of hundreds of prison camps that held up to 10,000 people each. When Stalin launched his infamous purges in 1936, millions of so-called political prisoners were arrested and transported to the gulags without trial. The first wave of prisoners were military and government officials; later, ordinary citizens—especially intellectuals, doctors, writers, artists, and scientists—were arrested ex nihilo. At the camps, many prisoners were executed or died from overwork and malnutrition. The death rate often hovered around 5 percent, although in years of widespread famine, the mortality rate could be as high as 25 percent. Historians estimate that as part of the gulag, Soviet authorities imprisoned or executed about 25 million people. “That sum is unfathomable,” Katia Patin, who produced the film about Golubeva, told me. Golubeva’s story is part of a powerful oral-history series called Generation Gulag, which Coda Story created to better understand the gulag experience. “We made a point of not relying on numbers to tell the story of the gulag,” Patin said. “Instead, we focused on individual stories as a way of capturing the gulag’s massive scale, as well as the ripple effect set in motion when the Soviet machine of repression bore down on a single person.” For full story click here.

1955 Dubbo Flood

Voices recalling the urgent alerts, issued in the middle of the night, that water was coming evoke some of the extraordinary experience of living through the 1955 flood at Dubbo. Sleep was disturbed as both the Macquarie and Talbragar rivers burst their banks after a deluge of rain and Dubbo’s central and northern streets became waterways in the early hours of February 26, 1955. Community members who with neighbours bore the brunt of the great natural disaster shared their memories with Macquarie Regional Library’s Oral History Project. Read full story here.

Remembering the Atlantic War

“The Atlantic War Remembered: An Oral History Collection” edited by John T. Mason Jr., Naval Institute Press, 2020, 512 pages, $45

World War II has entered history. Some veterans are still alive, but fewer with each passing day. Even those born between 1939 and 1945 are retirement age. “The Atlantic War Remembered: An Oral History Collection” edited by John T. Mason Jr., allows people today to read what those veterans remembered. It collects accounts from participants in World War II’s Atlantic naval war. Read full review here.

Katherine Johnson, NASA mathematician dies

When Katherine Johnson ­began working at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1953, she was classified as “subprofessional,” not far outranking a secretary or janitor. Hers was a labor not of scheduling or cleaning but rather of mathematics: using a slide rule or mechanical calculator in complex calculations to check the work of her superiors — engineers who, unlike her, were white and male. Her title, poached by the technology that would soon make the services of many of her colleagues obsolete, was “computer.” Read full story here. There is a link in story too her oral history.

Confirmation Aboriginal Habitation

In western Victoria, the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape World Heritage Site in Victoria contains the world’s oldest known aquaculture system, built by the Gunditjmara People more than 6,000 years ago, near a volcano called the Budj Bim Volcanic Complex. However, the Gunditjmara have lived in this area for much longer than this, and now, using a new volcanic activity dating technique and matching this with physical archaeological evidence and the rich oral traditions of the Gunditjmara people – we have confirmed human habitation in this region at least 34,000 years ago. For full story click here.

Libraries with AI

In Stonnington Library Service in Melbourne, for example, they can now record a new item in minutes, making it instantly available. An AI-based pilot program provides users with more than 10,000 images which have been analysed by Microsoft’s cognitive services. Beyond simple images of trains, for example, the system can retrieve pictures that contain keywords such as brand names or local points of interest. This rapid and accurate tagging could also improve engagement with the public, as libraries call on communities to supply their own information that can be more easily collected, tagged, organised and digitised. In Stonnington, for example, they envision a future in which a 30-minute oral history will be transcribed by AI within minutes, automatically catalogued and made available for discovery. For full story click here.