Oral History of Cyprus since 1960s

“The Cyprus Oral History and Living Memory Project” brings together a team of qualitative researchers from Cyprus and abroad, including oral history expert research Dr William Ayers, and led by Frederick University’s Nicoletta Christodoulou.  Christodoulou said yesterday: “The general purpose of the project was to record in notes and photographs and sketches, on audio and video, the voices and words of the people of Cyprus themselves -folks from every community – to capture their memories from the events of 1974…as an approach to teaching about the conflict and promoting reconciliation and peace education.” For full story click here.

Australian Generations Project

The Australian Generations project has begun recording 300 life stories across the nation – not from the elite or the powerful but from everyday people born between the 1920s and 1980s. The stories would be stored forever in the National Library’s digital archive and used in an ABC Radio National history series – and it was the basis for a unique study of generational memory.  For the full story click here.  Also for the story of Radio National’s involvement click here.

Interactive Life Stories

Capturing the stories of elderly residents is the idea behind a new project recently launched at BCS Maranoa in Alstonville.  Interactive Life Stories is an oral history project conducted by Sharon Dean, a journalist with a PhD in writing from Griffith University.  The purpose of her program is to empower residents to share their stories with staff, their families and each other.  For full story, click here.

Aboriginal and Jewish Communities Project

The Rona Tranby Trust, a project linking Jewish and Aboriginal communities, has celebrated the 20th anniversary of its work archiving oral Aboriginal history.  Following the deaths of Jewish immigrants Tom and Eva Rona  in a car accident near Taree in 1987, solicitor Roland Gridiger found himself in search of a project for the betterment of the Aboriginal community as set down in the deceased couple’s will.  The Ronas, Holocaust survivors, had been social activists who wanted to make a connection between the two communities.  Read full story here.

Oral History of Grunge

Even if the term grunge makes you cringe you’ll love Mark Yarm’s 550-plus pages of good rock-’n’-roll storytelling called Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge.  This book shows oral history can be used for modern themes and is published to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s Nevermind and Pearl Jam’s debut Ten—two great albums that forever changed rock music. The article reviews the book and also examines the history and merits of using oral history. Read the full article here.

Jacqueline Kennedy Oral History

A seven-part interview conducted in early 1964 — one of only three that Mrs. Kennedy gave after President Kennedy’s assassination — is being published as a book and an audio recording. In it, the young widow speaks with Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., the historian and Kennedy aide, about her husband’s presidency, their marriage and her role in his political life. They do not discuss his death. The eight and a half hours of interviews had been kept private at the request of Mrs. Kennedy, who never spoke publicly about those years again before she died in 1994.  Includes audio excerpts. For full story click here.

Witness to Apocalypse

Days after the 9/11 attacks, researchers at the Columbia Center for Oral History began asking New Yorkers to describe their experience of the most harrowing day in the city’s history.  The account, tells the story of the fall of the WTC moment by moment and person by person and is drawn from the more than 600 interviews collected in the September 11, 2001 Oral History Project.  For this comprehensive account click here.


Marginalising Oral History

This article is looking at the oral history of the Partition of India, but is also interesting as it addresses the broader issue of the value of oral history as part of general history.  Despite its utility in comprehending tragic events such as the Partition of India, oral history keeps getting rebuffed for its ‘soft’ and ‘subjective’ approach.  Scepticism on the merits of oral history abound, with advocates of the conventional form often looking down upon it as a ‘soft’ approach. One of the chief complaints levelled at oral history is that the statements obtained through interviews are highly subjective, and hence have the potential to create a history far less accurate. They argue that during the recollection of personal or collective memories, certain memories that create ambiguities, and do not suit the broader narrative goals, are often conveniently purged or reshaped, consciously or subconsciously, through a kind of ‘selective amnesia’.  Read full article here.