Using oral history archives

“The Southern Oral History Program is guided by the philosophy that “you don’t have to be famous for your life to be history.” Since 1973, it has collected 6,000 interviews that document the American South.” The program has a competition for people who use the archived oral histories and bring them into the present. Perhaps we could do that here. Read the full story and listen to an interview with the winners of the competition here.

China Stories

” A decade ago, when my husband and I brought our now 13-year-old daughter home to Texas we had a clear understanding of our decision to adopt from China. The One Child Policy, enacted in 1992 as a population control measure there, had collided with a long-held cultural preference for boys, leaving thousands of girls abandoned in a country where adoption was little understood. ” Read full story here.

“Memory Boxes” for Afghans

Afghanistan Center for Dialogue and Memory, located in a rented basement in Kabul, is the first repository for memories of those who fell victim to Afghanistan’s decades of war. It exhibits everyday belongings — from scarves to poems — that illustrate the lives lost to violence in the past 40 years of conflict in Afghanistan. The center houses the memories of a small portion of the victims, hardly 8,000. For full story click here.

Chernobyl Stories

“A cloud of radioactive material settled over Ukraine and Belarus after a critical failure blew apart a Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station reactor in 1986. The resulting death toll is disputed—U.N. agencies counted 4,000 deaths from the resulting radiation exposure, while other investigations have connected thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of additional cancer deaths to the Chernobyl disaster. But while the lingering effects of the reactor meltdown will likely be debated and studied for decades to come, the deaths of first responders on the scene is a well-documented tragedy.” Read about the book Voices from Chernobyl and watch the trailer for a new HBO series about the disaster, full story here.

Support Staff also important

“The tapes contain interviews with people that have been instrumental in building the lab and the experiments that run there. Most of the interviews are with physicists. But some venture outside the detector halls to speak with the technical and support staff that make sure the physicists’ research takes place. Higgins, who has conducted around 50 oral history interviews herself, has been consciously adding to this category in her six years as Fermilab archivist.”

Interesting story about interviewing support staff as well as the more well-known physicists who have used this laboratory. For full story click here.

Holocaust Memories (USA)

For 40 years, interviewers have been collecting the stories of Holocaust survivors, liberators and witnesses who found their way to St. Louis after World War II. Now, for the first time, the Holocaust Museum and Learning Center has gathered 144 of these oral histories into a searchable website, securing their stories for all time. The Oral Histories Project can be found at For full story click here.

Japanese Americans in WWII

U.S. occupation forces landing in Japan at the end of World War II immediately needed staff who could communicate with the defeated Japanese. Japanese American soldiers formed the core of the translation and interpretation service, putting them in the often awkward position of being conquerors who shared a heritage with the enemy. One of the most common questions they were asked by the Japanese was: “What is democracy?” Read full story here.