The phrase “digital revolution” is frequently used in both popular and academic discourse to describe the multiple contexts of our increasingly electronically enriched and computer-dependent society. The essence of this article happens to be achieving the promise of oral history in a digital age. In oral history and other academic areas utilizing the interview as a central methodological element, the “digital revolution” specifically refers to the mainstream integration of digital technologies into all facets of the oral history process—in the field, in the archive, and in the distribution of the interview content. This article explores how digital technologies have significantly impacted and have become integral to the recording of oral history, as well as to the dual archival imperatives of access and preservation. Digital video recording started playing a pivotal role in practices of oral history by the twentieth century. Oral history has always been bound to technology, and technologies will forever change.
The Atlantic Northeast emerged as a distinctive region between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries. Its largest tribal groupings were the Abenaki, Mi’kmaq, Penobscot, and other Wabanaki peoples; the Delaware and other Lenape peoples; and Mohegan, Mohican, Munsee, Narragansett, Pequot, and Wampanoag Indians. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, these peoples struggled to survive in the face of depopulation from diseases, warfare, emigration, and other effects of European, particularly English, colonization. Thereafter, they and their communities persisted, despite further marginalization in non-Native law, society, and discourse in the United States and Canada. Since the end of the nineteenth century, Native peoples have begun to resist such marginalization through greater public visibility as celebrities and activists, by regaining some lands and rights, and by proclaiming their own perspectives on their history.
This article explains the collectivity of memory. Memory, in all its guises, has been at the heart of historical inquiry over the past three decades. Cultural and social historians, sociologists, social psychologists, and those working in cultural studies and literary criticism have generated a significant body of work exploring both individual autobiographical memory and collective, public memory. Interest in the subject of collective remembrance, initially focusing upon the social and cultural forms through which the violent and repressive history of the twentieth century were recalled and commemorated, has developed over time into a broader, interdisciplinary field focusing upon memory. The term “memory” has now expanded to encompass all these forms of historical consciousness, a development that has received a less-than-enthusiastic response from those historians who define conventional history by its goals of objectivity and truth, as opposed to the subjectivity and partiality of memory. Discussion on personal and collective memory and social identities conclude this article.
The emergence of oral history was connected with a technical development—namely the possibility of recording human voices. The recording techniques developed rapidly. This article discusses the challenges faced while recording audiovisual history. In the 1980s expensive filmmaking began to be replaced by more affordable video formats, which took the technical development of oral history to a new audiovisual level. The paradigm shift generated by oral history in which historians began to generate their own primary sources announced another transformation of the way historians worked: taking leave of the written form and communicating scholarly results in audiovisual form. This article seeks to describe what the integration of the visual aspect means for oral historians in generating documents of remembrance. It elaborates on a few concrete examples of how integrating the camera's eye has shaped audiovisual history. A discussion on negotiation of remembrance followed by new methods and issues of videohistory concludes this article.
This article focuses on case studies in oral history with the backdrop of democracy and lessons learnt form illiterates. The “discovery” of illiteracy and its defining characteristics should be a main focus of oral history. The difficulties in reaching illiterates, the communication problems, and their frequent silences, especially in societies that have suffered civil wars and harsh political repression, challenge historians. The experience of interviewing them allows us to measure the degree to which the historian is anchored in the literate culture and complicit in the power of writing. This case study presents some results, a comparison between the samples, and the theoretical challenges about the role of democracy and illiteracy in situations of social and political upheaval. The research centers on proving that illiterates are not disruptive and that they show a moderate response. As a conclusion, future research is presented in the form of four conjectures which winds up this article.
Richard Cándida Smith
University-based oral history needs to undergo a transformation. The process of going out and interviewing people for first-hand knowledge of historical events is as old as the historical discipline itself. This article focuses on a case study on what university-based oral history can do when it comes to the study of oral history. Interviews continued to be one of the most important tools for historians studying recent topics, but oral history as practiced today had its beginnings in the early nineteenth century when researchers began compiling and preserving stenographic records of the interviews they carried out. Modern oral history has centered on making the words of the historical informants accessible, so that narrators can continue to speak of their experiences to subsequent generations. Oral sources have been an important part of scholarly life for the past two centuries because they have made visible forms of collective life that are difficult to document in other ways.
Brien R. Williams
Oral historians once tended to regard the sound recording of interviews as only the collecting stage of their enterprise. They considered the transcript as the authoritative document of record. This article focuses on the role of historians in capturing oral history through video. Later, however, aural recordings acquired more authority and began to be seen as a legitimate, if not co-equal, version of the interview. Now, oral historians are steadily adding video recording to their work. Foremost among the advantages of using video is the increased information obtained even in a simple “talking head” interview. This article enlists an extensive guideline for carrying out videohistory beginning with equipments and production techniques such as the equipment needed will include a consumer-grade video camera with at least one external microphone input, a camera tripod, and one or more quality microphones. A detailed description of video tour and ways of capturing video history concludes this article.
Mary Kay Quinlan
The focus of this article is the dynamics of oral history and the significance of interviewing while recording oral history. From the profound to the perfunctory, question-asking permeates modern society. Sometimes, of course, the questioner does not want information, like the alumni association solicitor. At other times, the respondent, wise to the conventions of culture, knows that the question—How are you today?—is not really a question at all but an alternate way of saying hello. Nonetheless, the purposeful exchanges of questions and answers—these commonplace mini-interviews—characterize our days. This article discusses researches that are interview based with references to broadcast interview, print interview as well as ethnographic interview. While these three interview-based research methods share certain similarities, and their practitioners can learn constructive techniques from each other, their differences are more notable. This article elaborates the factors affecting interview and ways of documenting an interview.
Michelle Winslow and Graham Smith
Ethical challenges in the oral history of medicine are the essence of this article. It is a mark of the contribution of oral history to the history of medicine that studies located within living memory are open to criticism if they fail to include oral history. However, oral history's contribution to the history of medicine is a complex one, and this is highlighted in an exploration of the history of professionals in medicine and medical professions, and in the emergence of the patient's story. Problems of “shared authority” are considered: working with professionals when interviewee “power” is a factor and, conversely, our relationships with “patients” who may be viewed as “vulnerable” oral history subjects. Interwoven throughout this discussion is the question of ethics, and this article raises some of the ethical challenges that arise within the history of medicine. Oral history in medicine gives insight into past actions that allows their consideration in their contemporary circumstances.
The aims of this article are twofold. First, it traces the broad contours of the historiography, examining the myriad ways in which scholars have come to incorporate the slave perspective in studies of slavery. Having established the general trajectory of this search through the 1970s, it examines the ways in which slaves' voices have led scholars to important insights in one particular area of study — the political, social, and economic implications of the slaves' internal economy.