Saudi Oral History

“RIYADH: From one generation to another, history is told and retold. But with time, large fragments are lost, so a Riyadh-based research center is helping preserve some of Saudi Arabia’s most important historical facts.
The earliest forms of storytelling for many cultures were primarily oral, combined with gestures and expressions, and at times, even drawings and paintings. With time these stories differ, their essence forgotten and countless tales lost through time. In recognition of the beauty of this dying art, the King Abdul Aziz Foundation for Research and Archives (Darah) has upgraded its work to record and preserve oral accounts of Saudi Arabian history and make them accessible to researchers.” Read full story here.

Holocaust Zoom Interviews

“Ina Navazelskis, an interviewer with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, was quiet for a moment as she watched him on her laptop in her study in Falls Church, Va. Normally, she would have been face to face with Orel in his home with a video and audio crew. Now, forced by the pandemic to talk on a shaky Zoom connection over a cellphone taped to his computer, Orel took out some tissues and wiped his nose.” See full story here.

Presidential Chef Dies

“Henry Haller’s entree to the White House came in late 1965, after the executive chef hired by the Kennedys had quit, finding it beneath his dignity at long last to prepare food like the spare ribs, spoon bread and mashed garbanzo beans requested by the subsequent White House occupants, Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson.” Read fully story here which has a link to his oral history.

Children’s Museum

“Clarkson History Professor Laura Ettinger’s students collected oral histories from people 60 and over who grew up in the area. Their stories bring to life the work and play of childhood from an earlier time. Professor Laini Kavaloski from SUNY Canton and Professor Steven Pedersen from Clarkson’s Digital Arts & Sciences Program and their students created the audio and touch screen interactive. Director Mimi VanDeusen from the Potsdam Public Museum loaned historical artifacts for the displays. (VanDeusen retired November 30, 2020.)” Read more here about this interesting project.

Jewish Refugees after WWII

“America, a nation of immigrants, has a dark past of rejecting “the other.” This history includes the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the National Quotas Act of 1924 and the World War II internment of Japanese Americans. Even in the aftermath of the Holocaust, our borders were barely open to Jewish survivors. In 1945, a million Jewish, Polish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Ukrainian and volksdeutsche refugees in displaced persons camps in Germany and Austria faced resettlement. Three-quarters of the million in the DP camps were not Jewish. “The Last Million: Europe’s Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War,” David Nasaw’s new book, recounts how the United States was slow to create adequate camps for the Jewish survivors, and, in the next decade, new laws pushed back on accepting large numbers of Jewish refugees.” Read full story here.

Latest in Boston College Trial

The trial of a leading loyalist has heard a handwriting expert concluded his signature may link him to a set of interviews given to Boston College. Winston Rea, 69, from Springwell Road, in Groomsport, County Down, faces up to 19 charges. They include aiding and abetting the murders of two Catholic men. Mr Rea denies all the charges, which are based on interviews he allegedly gave to the US college. Read full story here.

“The Loss of Oral History”

A new award-winning photography book “The Loss of Oral History” by Jalal Shamsazaran documents his father’s decline from Alzheimer’s disease. He says: “What bothers my father is not forgetting, but instead, it is remembering. Often my 83-year-old father recalls and relives the 1915 invasion of Tabriz by Russia, the death of soldiers and holy fighters of the democratic party in Azerbaijan, the central government killing fathers as their sons bared witness. My father and my aunt are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, a path that my grandfather had taken as well. This disease is hereditary in our family. My father’s present condition may end up being my own in the future.” See the images and story here and here.

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Hazel de Berg’s Interviews

“Hazel de Berg (1913–1984) was a woman of immense talent who, from 1957 onwards, created the National Library of Australia’s first oral history collection. Over 27 years, she recorded the voices of 1,290 Australians born between 1865 and 1953, including artists, writers, composers, scientists and many others. In December 2020, her legacy reaches a whole new audience as part of an innovative collaboration between the National Library and the National Portrait Gallery. Extracts from her recordings bring to life a wide range of portraits, matching visual and audio elements to create an immersive and moving experience. Visitors to the Portrait Gallery (and people across the world who download the specially designed app) will be able to hear extraordinary Australians in their own words (a great many of whom have passed away), thanks to Hazel de Berg’s efforts recording them decades prior.” Read more here.