Oral history is one of the most important arrows in the historian’s quiver. Source documents, photographs, databases and the like offer their own advantages, but audio and/or video interviews deliver information not available with other types of media.
It’s one thing to read about someone and the details of their life. But being able to hear them tell the stories in their own words and voice adds immeasurably to the picture. Hearing the richness of their voice, the style of speaking, the accent; it makes them present in a way not possible with documents. This is why I so strongly recommend families conduct oral history interviews with parents, grandparents and other key relatives. Get the kids involved!
Most people love talking about their experiences growing up, so oftentimes there are no problems getting a willing “victim” to participate. However, sometimes a person is hesitant to be interviewed, especially if the topic…
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