The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza received notice of a $40,000 award from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support Shared Stories, an in-depth exploration of the use of oral histories in museum programming. Grant funds will allow the Museum to assemble a group of humanities scholars from a variety of disciplines to plan programs featuring the Museum’s growing Oral History Collection. The collection contains more than 850 recorded interviews with President Kennedy assassination eyewitnesses, law enforcement officers, members of the press and medical personnel from Parkland Hospital, motorcade spectators, White House officials, representatives of the local, national and international news media, as well as Dallas area school children, civil rights leaders, Peace Corps volunteers, astronauts and many others. For the full story, click here.
StoryCorps’ Mobile Booth interviews are conducted between two people who know and care about each other. A trained StoryCorps facilitator guides participants through the interview process. At the end of each 40-minute recording session, participants receive a complimentary CD copy of their interview. With participant permission, a second copy is archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress for future generations to hear. For full story of where the booth is visiting, click here.
Since 1987, when Paul Thompson, the sociologist and oral historian, and Asa Briggs, the historian and provost of Worcester College, Oxford, set up National Life Stories “to record first-hand experiences of as wide a cross-section of present-day society as possible”, they have collected almost 2,500 lengthy tape recordings – typically 10 to 15 hours – of the lives and times of both the eminent and the ordinary. For the full story click here.
The National Library in Wellington as New Zealand’s memory, is storing, sorting and helping to make sense of great and terrible events. Christchurch’s sequence of earthquakes must rank as the most terrible in NZ history. Since September 2010, the National Library has been just one of the government agencies working quietly but steadily to amass an earthquake archive. For full story click here.
Victoria University researcher Dr Caroline Symons has won this year’s Australian Society for Sports History Book Award for her book The Gay Games: A History. Symons was commended for her use of oral history, participant observation and archival research. For the full story click here.
West Australian, Annice Henderson, has been privileged to hear some remarkable stories in 20 years of working with the dying, as she helps them to record messages for their family. Mrs Henderson, is a volunteer with Silver Chain’s Hospice Care Services which provides palliative care in the home, grief counselling and other support services to dying people and their families. Click here for the full story.
This type of recording is often referred to as “dignity therapy” as it allows the dying to validate their lives in a dignified way by someone who is willing to listen and record their stories. OHAA Qld has touched on this aspect of oral history in the past and will explore it more fully in a future newsletter.
This is a lovely story about a man named Don Norton who for Christmas of 1964, interviewed his father for two hours recording the events of his life. Norton then transcribed the session, laboriously typed it out on a manual typewriter and surprised his father with the gift, which was placed in a large envelope marked, “Do not open until Christmas.” When the family was sitting around the tree that year and his father opened the envelope and saw what the gift was, he wept. Since then Don has gone on to interview more than 100 veterans in his community in Orem, Utah. For the fully story, click here.
One of oral history’s great practitioners Dr Robert Perks, director and lead curator, National Life Stories, British Library, London, spoke at the recent conference ‘Oral History and the Sense of Legacy’ in Bangalore, describing oral history as “spoken evidence”. One of the projects discussed at the conference was the gathering of the testimonials of survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy. For more information click here and here.
Officials at the University of California, Berkeley’s Regional Oral History Office are looking to a July 23 memorial service for the hundreds of servicemen and civilians killed and hurt in this disaster to aid the office’s search for first-hand accounts of the 1944 accident that helped desegregate the U.S. military. The Regional Oral History Office (ROHO) has initiated interviews with surviving witnesses to the explosion of more than 5,000 tons of TNT while mainly African-American sailors loaded munitions in Port Chicago, California. 320 servicemen and civilians died. For more information about this interesting and little known event, click here.