Perceived gap between amateur and academic historians

Local history is one of the most popular forms of history in Australia. Yet there is a yawning gap between the enthusiastic amateur and the academic historian. While some academic historians engage with local history, sadly there is an entrenched snobbery from the academy. From the other side, the enthusiastic amateur is too wound up with a parochial approach to local history and often doesn’t see the bigger picture. If both sides can engage with each other, the result would be a better type of history practise and a greater contribution to the story of Australia. For full story click here.

Exhibit of Bancroft Library’s LGBT Collection

“A Place at the Table: A Gathering of LGBT Text, Image and Voice,” an exhibit opening April 4 at the University of California, Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, will showcase literature, film, photography and other work of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender artists.  The exhibit is arranged to simulate the famed gatherings of artists frequently held by writers and partners Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas at Stein’s home at 27 Rue de Fleurus in Paris, said co-curator Martin Meeker of The Bancroft’s Regional Oral History Office. Stein’s small house overflowed with paintings, and many artists, writers and critics attended parties or “salons” there. For full story click here.

Schoolchildren doing oral history

Pulitzer Prize winners, foreign athletes, successful business people and veterans were just some of the fascinating people who crowded the Thurston Middle School (USA) auditorium this week. The sixth-grade Oral History project asks students to interview someone at least 50 years older and present their findings to their classmates. The school held its annual luncheon Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, when students gave a 30-second presentation about their person, asking their interviewee to stand to applause and usually ending with “thank you for sharing your life with me.”  For full story click here.

President Johnson – oral history

Indomitable Will: LBJ in the Presidency has many authors, including Lyndon Baines Johnson himself.  This enlightening look at the LBJ presidency from 1963 to 1969 is an oral history compiled by Mark Updegrove, director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library on the University of Texas at Austin campus.  Updegrove wrote part of the book, mainly setup pieces to establish background on certain incidents and issues. He then steps back and allows LBJ, his family, members of Congress, his staff and other people close to LBJ tell their stories from edited recording transcriptions. There are even telephone conversations with civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.  To read more, click here.

Oral history of Chrysler plant – USA

The University of Delaware Library has announced the opening of a new digital collection, the Oral History Collection of the Chrysler Corporation’s Newark Assembly Plant.  This oral history collection consists of digital audio interviews with 12 former employees of the Chrysler plant in Newark conducted by UD students in  taught by Roger Horowitz, supplemental faculty in the Department of History in the spring semester of 2011. Additional interviews are planned when he teaches the class again in 2013. For full story and link to the web site, click here.

Eavesdropping as oral history

Last week the British Library announced it is to work with local BBC radio stations to set up The Listening Project, a Radio 4 programme that will create an oral survey of the nation by putting together thousands of recorded conversations from across Britain. Selected daily excerpts will be broadcast on Radio 4 before news bulletins from the end of this month and an omnibus edition will be aired at the weekends.  Listeners will be able to submit their conversation through the project website, launching next week, and the British Library, which already holds a wide oral archive, will create a permanent home for the majority of the conversations that are sent in. For full story click here.

Stories from Britain’s first nuclear plant

Some remarkable stories have emerged from interviews held to uncover what life was like working in, or living in, the shadow of Sellafield.  Police chiefs, scientists, farmers and nuclear critics all had their chance to contribute opinions on the nuclear plant as part of 300 hours of oral history recordings. For full story click here.

Canadian immigrants share stories of violence

We Are Here, the final exhibition of the project Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by War, Genocide, and Other Human Rights Violations, opens March 8, 2012. The project, based at Concordia’s Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, is presented in collaboration with the Centre d’histoire de Montréal, which is hosting the display. Five years in the making, We Are Here represents an extraordinary university-community research alliance to record the personal stories of 500 Montrealers. According to Steven High, Concordia Canada Research Chair in Public History and the project’s principal investigator, more than 300 academic researchers, community members, students, artists and interns participated in creating the work.  For full story click here.

“Londoners” – an oral history

Craig Taylor devoted five years to collecting the material for “Londoners.” He gathered stories from all 32 boroughs, conducting formal interviews with more than 200 people, running through 300 tape-recorder batteries and taking down enough notes to generate transcripts of more than 950,000 words. Fewer than half the people he talked to made the final cut. Some interviews took months to set up and lasted just a few minutes. Others went on for hours. For full story click here.