Oral History of Oral Histories

Michaelangelo Matos pitched The Daily a feature on the oral history boom of the last few years. He had a cultural idea: it’s happening at the same time that blogs are making first-person writing so popular and accessible. After he sent his pitch, he thought, “I should have just pitched an oral history of the oral history. Somebody’s going to do it eventually.”  For full story click here and there is a link to Matos’ story.

Oral History and Palliative Care

Dr Michelle Winslow, Research Fellow, Academic Unit of Supportive Care at the University of Sheffield has interviewed dying patients which she says has a “cathartic element.”  She said she is careful to dissociate her team from the clinical team as they don’t want patients to think they are part of their care, but she accepts “there can be a therapeutic element”.  She added “Though this is probably the case for oral history in any setting.”  You can read her paper “Recording lives: the benefits of an oral history service” featured in the 2009 “European Journal of Palliative Care. 




Queensland Political Interviews

Academics from The University of Queensland have launched a new website, Queensland Speaks, which through audio-recorded interviews, presents the personal and political perspectives of over 60 Queensland legislative decision makers.  Professor Peter Spearritt and Dr Danielle Miller, from the Centre for the Government of Queensland and UQ’s the School of History, Philosohy, Religion and Classics, led the oral history project, which includes interviews with former government ministers, and a number of senior public servants. For full story click here.

Remembering Rwanda’s painful past

Four staff members from the Kigali Genocide Memorial Center in Rwanda recently traveled to Los Angeles to learn techniques on how to best preserve the oral history of what happened in Rwanda 17 years ago. As many as one million people lost their lives in the Rwandan Tutsi genocide of 1994. Many people did survive the horror, and their stories are waiting to be heard. For full story with video, click here.

Canning Stock Route stories

A surveyor once referred to the Canning Stock Route, the 1850km cattle track that runs across three deserts from Wiluna to Halls Creek, as “dismal, heart-breaking country”. Often portrayed as one of the most remote and rugged tracks in the world, it bisects the ecologically diverse lands and dynamic cultural networks of 10 different Aboriginal language groups. Their stories have finally been gathered together for the first time and told through the multilingual, multi-layered and multimedia vehicle of the Canning Stock Route Project. For full story click here.

Cootamundra oral historian

While recovering from a serious illness just over 14 years ago, local man Ken Loiterton realised that the stories and oral history his father and grandfather had handed down to him, could have been lost if he hadn’t survived.  As a result Ken set about collecting information, collating memorabilia and writing his recollections of those legends passed on from generation to generation. For full story click here.

Concentration camp liberators share stories

Texans who liberated European concentration camps are telling their stories in video interviews with Stephen Sloan, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Oral History at Baylor University. The two-year project to produce audio and video recordings of Texans’ role is funded by the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission. It educates citizens to increase understanding of the past and encourage individual responsibility for society’s actions. Interview transcripts will be given to public libraries in the liberators’ hometowns, the liberators’ families and to Holocaust museums in El Paso, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Sloan’s interviews are being recorded by videographer and Baylor graduate student Robert DeBoard.  DeBoard said recording the interviews “has been an amazing experience . . . This was a man who came running onto a beach at Normandy, like in Saving Private Ryan. You can’t imagine them having seen what they saw . . . When you hear them talking about it and remembering it really well, it’s something else entirely from reading about it.”  For full story, click here.

Imagining the City iPhone application (Brisbane)

‘Imagining the City’ is a location-based book of short stories set in inner city Brisbane, Australia. Once downloaded, users can locate each story in relation to where they are on the map and read the story in-situ. When in-situ, bonus material, including author’s notes, inspirational images and an audio recording of each of the stories read by the author, will be unlocked.  ‘Imagining the City’ was produced as part of an Australian Linkage Council Grant (LP0882274), ‘Respecting the Past and Imagining the Future: Using Narrative and New Media in Community Engagement and Urban Planning.’ Researchers at Queensland University of Technology’s Creative Industry Faculty invited writers to imaginatively respond to personas, or characters, developed in an earlier phase of research to help inform the design of inner-city apartments.   More information about the application is available here:

 The application is available for free download from the iTunes store. We encourage you to download the application and engage with these new and imaginative location-based representations of the city.

 If you have questions or comments, please contact either As. Prof. Helen Klaebe ( or Ariella Van Luyn (

Lessons learned from nuclear waste war

Veterans of the nuclear waste wars are compiling oral histories to preserve recollections of the long and controversial repository battle with the federal government. One such “lessons learned” venture has gone live in Eureka County. It contains transcripts and video of interviews with two dozen residents, local and state officials, consultants and activists. The enterprise, including a number of on-line interviews, put together with about $50,000 in federal funds given to the county for Yucca Mountain activities, can be found here.