New library for Docklands, Melbourne

According to Mr Ian Hicks, the Docklands Library and Community Centre will be a place for people to learn, participate and connect in a physical and a digital environment.  The facility will combine traditional elements of a library with modern technology and a range of community resources.  Mr Hicks said the Docklands Library and Community Centre would be focused on bringing the community together.  For full story click here

Czech’s memories of World War II

Czech and Slovak Americans remember food shortages, forced labor and the horrors of concentration camps as part of their homeland experience during World War II.  Oral histories recorded as a project for the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library will shine a spotlight on that history during a special Veteran’s Day event from 2 to 4 p.m. on Nov. 11. Since 2009, the museum’s oral history project has captured the stories of Czechs and Slovaks who fled their homeland during the Cold War.  Now, they’re going back further into history and turning their focus to World War II.  For full story click here.

Veterans’ stories (USA)

The oral history collection started in the 1990s when local writer and World War II Wilmington Home Front Heritage Coalition chairman Wilbur Jones approached the library to suggest preserving oral histories of veterans, Parnell says. The local Veterans of Foreign Wars arranged for interview subjects, while the library arranged for staff and students to record the interviews and provided space, a camera, VHS tapes, transcripts and a website.  I know how important it is to record the history of these men and women before they die, Jones says.  For full story click here

Oral History and Folklore come together

In March 2012, there was a discussion on the public folklorists’ listserv Publore about the evolution of oral history as a defined discipline and folklorists’ contribution to its development. As an observer and participant in both fields, I see overlap today. The leaderships of both national associations — the Oral History Association (OHA) and the American Folklore Society (AFS) — frequently collaborate on large-scale projects, like the current IMLS-funded project looking at oral history in the digital age. Their annual meetings regularly take place back-to-back. I often joke with colleagues when they ask me about the difference between the two conferences by suggesting that at OHA you might have a librarian or a rocket scientist who practices oral history, and at AFS you would have a folklorist working as a librarian or a rocket scientist.  For full story with lots of interesting links, click here.

ANZAC Family History

According to the Australian War Memorial, there is already increased interest in Gallipoli and the Western Front, and there will be a spike in public inquiries as 2015 approaches.  Jennie Norberry, the AWM's manager of information services, believes that a general interest in family history, boosted by a television genealogy series, during the past 10 years is contributing to greater curiosity about family military history.  For full story with video click here

Auschwitz Inmate Story

Shlomo Venezia was one of the first Jews to climb out of the freight car when it came to the end of the line at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland on April 11, 1944, his mother crammed behind him.  For nearly 50 years he remained haunted and virtually silent about his role in the horror. ''Not because I didn't want to talk,'' he said, ''but because people didn't want to listen, didn't want to believe it.''  That changed in the early 1990s, when right-wing extremism reared again in Italy and, Venezia said, "swastikas began to appear on walls''. He began to speak at conferences, to reporters, to schoolchildren – and most notably to Beatrice Prasquier, a journalist with whom, in 2007, he published Inside the Gas Chambers: Eight Months in the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz.  The book offers a harrowingly matter-of-fact account in which he describes loading corpses into the ovens 12 hours a day, seven days a week.  For full story click here

Our American Family

Steve Young, is the producer of a documentary series, Our American Family.  Our American Family is a new documentary project for PBS viewers, telling the stories of everyday families from the first half of the 1900’s, in the voices of those who grew up in that time.  See this web site.  [This would be a good idea for the ABC to do on Australian families.]

Rivers and oral history

Rivers have always been sites for stories, myths and rituals as well as political conflict. Historian Heather Goodall in her talk Geographies of Memory: Oral History and Contested Rivers in Australia, held recently and organised by the Centre for Public History, Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, provided an analysis of the relation of man to rivers and the ever-changing nature of rivers.  For full story click here

Nevada Nuclear Testing

“We used to get up in the morning, drive out to the highway and watch the blast.  There was a regular caravan of cars going out.  We’d park on the side of the road, wait until it was all over, go home, have breakfast, get the kids off to school and then go to work.”  That’s how Gail Andress remembers the nuclear testing 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas in the early 1950s.  For full story click here.

Akenfield – Portrait of an English Village

Akenfield – Portrait of an English Village by Ronald Blythe     was published in 1999 and is a classic oral history study of an English village.  The interviews were done 30 years earlier in a small Suffolk village and examines all aspects of the lives of the people who lived there.  In 2009 Lynn Abrams wrote an essay looking at the contribution this book has made to oral history.  Read her essay here