- The Oxford Handbook of Oral History
- Introduction: The Evolution of Oral History
- The Dynamics of Interviewing
- Those Who Prevailed and Those Who Were Replaced: Interviewing on Both Sides of a Conflict
- Interviewing in Cross-Cultural Settings
- Case Study: Oral History and Democracy: Lessons from Illiterates
- Memory and Remembering in Oral History
- Can Memory Be Collective?
- Case Study: Rome's House of Memory and History: The Politics of Memory and Public Institutions
- How Does One Win a Lost War? Oral History and Political Memories
- Disappointed Remains: Trauma, Testimony, and Reconciliation in Post-apartheid South Africa
- Case Study: Memory Work with Children Affected by HIV/AIDS in South Africa
- The Stages of Women's Oral History
- Race and Oral History
- Remembering in Later Life: Generating Individual and Social Change
- The Proust Effect: Oral History and the Senses
- After Action: Oral History and War
- Case Study: “Above all, we need the WITNESS”: The Oral History of Holocaust Survivor
- Case Study: Field Notes on Catastrophe: Reflections on the September 11, 2001, Oral History Memory and Narrative Project
- Doing Video Oral History
- Case Study: Opening Up Memory Space: The Challenges of Audiovisual History
- Achieving the Promise of Oral History in a Digital Age
- Oral History: Media, Message, and Meaning
- Messiah with the Microphone? Oral Historians, Technology, and Sound Archives
- Case Study: Between the Raw and the Cooked in Oral History: Notes from the Kitchen
- The Legal Ramifications of Oral History
- Ethical Challenges in the Oral History of Medicine
- The Archival Imperative: Can Oral History Survive the Funding Crisis in Archival Institutions?
- Case Study: The Southern Oral History Program
- Case Study: What is it That University-Based Oral History Can Do? The Berkeley Experience
- Toward a Public Oral History
- Motivating the Twenty-first-Century Student with Oral History
- Oral History in Universities: From Margins to Mainstream
- Case Study: Engaging Interpretation Through Digital Technologies
- Oral History in the Digital Age
Abstract and Keywords
The focus of this article is public oral history. Public history is a “slippery concept.” Perhaps the simplest definition of public history is that it describes a set of procedures undertaken by historians who are not employed in academic institutions. Within this definition, at least for some, funding is an important element that distinguishes public from academic history. Public history, Valerie Yow has argued, is “commissioned research in special communities,” so that “the targeted audience is the commissioner or the commissioner's chosen readers—not necessarily other scholars.” Public history might therefore describe the production of historical interpretations that are intended for consumption by particular audiences. It has been argued that this is an important difference: while academic historians write for one another, public historians are interpreting the past for a wider audience. Across the globe there are differences in the ways that public history is understood as unfolded in this article.
Graham Smith is a professor of oral history at Newcastle University, researching and teaching public history and oral history. His research interests include the ways in which people use remembering to create group identities. His past projects have included reading group members recalling fiction, as well as oral history studies of migration, medical practices, and food. He was an editor of the public history section of Oral History and was the chair of the Oral History Society from 2004 to 2017.
Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.
If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.