Value of oral history for “first nations”

Many will remember that in the past, first nations put great stock in what they called oral history in trying to establish their title to what they regarded as their traditional lands.  That was a tough concept for those of Western European culture to get their heads wrapped around because they put greater value on written history. For full story, click here.

United Nations Oral History

A collection of more than 200 interviews covering major events in the history of the United Nations was launched at the world body’s Headquarters in New York yesterday, and will be accessible to the public through a website.  The UN Library’s Oral History Collection consists of interviews conducted over the course of 25 years with former delegates, UN staff members and journalists, all of whom recounted their experiences on major world events. For full story click here and note the site has been added to the OHAA Qld Delicious site.

Guantanamo – An Oral History

January 11, 2012, marks the 10th anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees at the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo Bay—the first of what would be nearly 800 prisoners to cycle through the camp. One hundred and seventy one are still there. Despite President Obama’s pledge, the facility remains open, a prisoner of fear-mongering and politics—and it continues to be a symbol of mistreatment and missteps in the prosecution of the war on terror. Vanity Fair has interviewed dozens of people associated with Guantánamo—lawyers, soldiers, diplomats, former detainees—in order to tell the story in their own words.  Click here for full story.

LGBTQ History discussed at Chicago conference

As part of the American History Association’s recent conference in Chicago, a great deal of discussion was devoted to the emerging interest in LGBTQ history. An early-morning panel discussion confronted many of the problems and the successes with LGBTQ history and its dissemination to the popular masses.  Professor Kevin Murphy, with the University of Minnesota, discussed his recent tribulations when putting together an oral history of the Twin Cities, saying, “We collected over 100 oral histories of the Twin Cities LGBTQ community. Historians, sociologists, geographers and ethnologists tried working together but found it difficult to create a work that would make their work interesting to the masses.” The resulting book, Queer Twin Cities, was not well-received by the media or the intended target audience. Murphy admitted that not even the local Minneapolis gay press reviewed the book after its 2011 release. He said that it was “heartening to see the localized interest in GLBT history” but that, ultimately, the work seemed to alienate readers. Click here for full story.  This site has a number of useful links.


American Civil Rights Oral History Program

Margaret Block, a civil rights activist, spoke at a function last week as part of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, an organization which strives to preserve oral history.  One of the students in the audience pointed out that learning about civil rights from a textbook is a totally different experience than hearing it firsthand.  For full story, click here.

Memories of Iran’s Islamic Revolution

Manager of the oral history department of Islamic Revolution’s literature office said: “Information which is gathered as memories resembles pieces which will finally present a complete picture of the Islamic Revolution. If the matter is considered more seriously, a complete picture of the Revolution’s oral history will be gained.”  For full story click here.

The Forgotten Australians

Can you put a price on a childhood? The federal government did: after the apology it set aside $26.5 million in the 2011 budget. That’s $53 per person for the half million affected. That money has gone to a national oral history project, an exhibition coming to Sydney this year and a hotline for “streamlined” access to government services. The NSW government set up Wattle House, a drop-in counselling facility in Harris Park. The input of Forgotten Australians was sought into the colour of the walls. Counsellors, historians, bureaucrats, lawyers and tradesmen got paid; the victims didn’t.  The Forgotten Australians are getting older, with the looming spectre of institutional aged care causing many deep and renewed anxieties about their future. The time to do the right thing by these people is running out. For full story, click here.

Latest on Boston College oral history project issue

A last-minute stay from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit has blocked efforts by British authorities to obtain documents from an oral history project, the Belfast project,  at Boston College. While the college was prepared to turn over the documents, as ordered by a lower court, a stay was obtained on behalf of those involved in the oral history project.  For more, click here.

Thomas Jefferson’s Slaves

Peter Fossett, 11, was among Thomas Jefferson’s slaves sold to pay his debts.  He recalled he was “born and reared as free, not knowing that I was a slave, then suddenly, at the death of Jefferson, put on an auction block and sold to strangers.”  Fossett’s story is one of many included in several new projects to shed light on the slaves who lived and worked at Monticello. A website launching Jan. 27 will showcase oral histories of the slaves in an online project called “Getting Word: African American Families of Monticello.” For full story click here.