Essay on The Meaning and Implication of Oral History

Essay on The Meaning and Implication of Oral History

Length: 3314 words (9.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Meaning and Implication of Oral History


In the United States the institutional beginnings of oral history can be traced back to Allan Nevins’s Oral History Project at Columbia University in 1948. As a field it developed in the early 1980s and at this time advocates started to seriously reflect on its methods and implications. Today oral history and public history are considered the growth engine of the historical discipline, absorbing many historians who are competing in a tight job market. However, the importance of oral history goes beyond practical considerations. Its methodological innovations enhance yet at the same time challenge the discipline. In this paper I will discuss some of the key issues anyone who intends to “do” oral history ought to consider. While I will briefly address some of the methodological concerns, the main focus of the paper will deal with the meaning and implication of oral history.

Oral history, especially in its import on public history, has tremendous potential. It can give a voice to those who have previously been excluded from historical narratives. By incorporating everyday, ordinary people in the historical dialogue it gives them an opportunity to formulate their own meaning. A sharing of authority can take place and through this grass roots approach the “making” of history can become more democratic. Approaching history from the bottom up also encourages that a new set of questions be asked, and it can break the old molds of historical scholarship in numerous ways.

Oral history has been practiced by professionals on both sides of the academic divide and has been used for diverse purposes, from purely academic information to statistics utilized by government agencies. Oral history...


... middle of paper ...


...e are no clear answers and these problems need to be solved as specific projects arise. A German historian who deals with issues of genocide will likely arrive at a different answer than a labor historian who examines workers’ lives under particular conditions. As such there are general theoretical guidelines for oral historians to consider, and thinking about the potential societal impact of one’s work is, in my view, a necessity. The detail, however, has to be worked out in the specific context in which the work is done. Method is, undoubtedly, an important consideration but not the preliminary one. More importantly, in the words of Ronald Grele, is “the mind revealed through conversation.” And in this respect the oral historian is as much part of the unfolding story as the informants whose experiences he or she seeks to incorporate into the historical narrative.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

What does ‘oral history’ entail, and what use can it be to the agendas of anthropologists, or historians or archaeologists?

- What does ‘oral history’ entail, and what use can it be to the agendas of anthropologists, or historians or archaeologists. Rowse states that ‘human society, its story and how it has come to be what it is, is due to the factors that operate in them’ (Rowse, 1963). This is especially true when looking at history from an oral historian’s perspective. Oral history has always been a topic open to much debate – whether or not it is a method worthy of one’s time; often branded as ‘radical history’. History very much depends on how one presents it to those looking to seek out the truth....   [tags: Oral History]

Powerful Essays
2182 words (6.2 pages)

The Use of Oral Sources Essay

- I, like many others, learnt about the history of my family through chatting with those who remembered them, hearing the stories of the good old days, and discovering the significant events that shaped my families’ lives. I caught the gossip and even learnt the songs they sang as they shared in jollification and other family customs, all from the memories of those who were there. This provided answers, gave me a sense of belonging and anecdotes I can pass down for generations. Family history gives a strong sense of a much longer lifespan and will survive beyond death....   [tags: Reliability of Oral History]

Powerful Essays
1674 words (4.8 pages)

Significance And Significance Of Oral History Essay

- In chapter nine, both Troup and Green discuss the importance and significance of oral history. Oral history is used in many ways by historians and by everyday common people. We all have stories to tell, stories we have lived from the inside out. We give our experiences an order. We organize the memories of our lives into narratives (stories). Oral history listens to these stories. Oral history is the systematic collection of living people’s testimony about their own experiences. Historians have finally recognized that the everyday memories of everyday people, not just the rich and famous, have historical importance....   [tags: History, Historiography, Historian]

Powerful Essays
701 words (2 pages)

Analyzing Oral History Essay

- Oral History gathers memoirs and individual observations of historical meaning through taped conversations. These soundtracks of the interview are copied, reviewed, and then assigned in a library. These interviews may be used for examination or quote in a publication, radio or video documentary, dramatization or other form of broadcast performance. Recordings, transcripts, catalogs, photographs and related written materials can also be displayed on the Internet. Oral history does not contain chance taping, like that of old “tricky dickey,” or so he was indicated as, President Richard Nixon’s sneaky recording of his White House discussions, or does it insinuate to recorded speeches, eavesdro...   [tags: recordings, transcripts, catalogues]

Powerful Essays
555 words (1.6 pages)

Oral Hygiene And The Elderly Essay

- The elderly community is rapidly increasing. This is one of the major causes for increased health problems and inability for these patients to comply with medical standards. Oral hygiene, among others, is one of the most disregarded. As one’s age increases dental hygiene becomes more and more important to maintain a healthy lifestyle because the elderly are more susceptible to infections and diseases of the oral cavity that can easily spread through-out the body. Oral health is much worse for elders who are in the nursing home setting as opposed to those who are not....   [tags: Oral hygiene, Periodontitis, Dentistry, Halitosis]

Powerful Essays
1329 words (3.8 pages)

Implication of Border Security and Photography Essay

- ... Nowadays, the recollections of photography taken in the past, have been reexamined, and are considered to have a large impact on society today. These images help create a linkage and educate those who were not present at the time of the event. An example of this are, war images, from the Holocaust, WW1 and WW2, which have stirred emotion amongst those who comes across it. This can be illustrated when Susan Sontag felt, when she first saw the photographs of the holocaust. She quoted one of the ‘best known contemporary statements ‘When I looked at those photograph, something broke’ This reaction shows the impact photographs, a recollection of memories, from a significant event has on indi...   [tags: photography as social aid]

Powerful Essays
1250 words (3.6 pages)

Oral Experience: Sylvia Plath's Daddy Essay

- Sylvia Plath’s poem “Daddy” creates a unique oral experience through its emphasis on the inconsistent forms and repeated sounds, both of which appeal to the ear and are less visible in the written format. The oral experience differs from the visual experience of reading the poem because the oral experience uses word flow and the sounds of the words to add to the meaning of the poem. Specifically, enjambments between lines and stanzas as well as inconsistent rhyme schemes and syllable counts create a conversational flow and interrupt the unified structure of five lines to a verse....   [tags: the oral experience, homeless]

Powerful Essays
1256 words (3.6 pages)

Oral Hygiene / Health Education Essay

- Based on the Mueller-Joseph & Petersen model, the patient exhibits increased biofilm accumulation related to lack of knowledge and dental care. Also, there are active caries related to excessive sugar intake. Correcting the damaged restorations, active caries, and disease would help to retain less biofilm. Teaching proper brushing and flossing techniques would help to eliminate existing and future biofilm accumulations. The patient may also want to consider altering the substance and frequency of her diet to help control the pH level of the oral cavity and prevent the need for future restorations....   [tags: Oral hygiene, Dental floss, Dental plaque]

Powerful Essays
1351 words (3.9 pages)

Oral History by Nadine Gordimer Essay

- Nadine Gordimer is a writer that has lived through numerous world-changing events. She has lived through World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Korean War. She even made it through the American Civil Right's Acts, as well as an uncountable amount of natural disasters. However, she did not base her writing style or preference on any of these notable events. Gordimer summed up her writing style by stating in the introduction of one of her many stories "a writer is selected by his subject – his subject being the consciousness of his own era" (Anthology 2919)....   [tags: Gordimer Writer Author]

Free Essays
1537 words (4.4 pages)

Essay about Oral Language Development

- Oral Language Development Children develop oral language at a very early age. Almost every sound a human being makes can be considered communication. As children grow up, they are constantly observing and practicing communication and oral language. What they know about oral language has an effect on the development of their literacy skills. “Students who had difficulty with early speech communication skills were believed to be at risk for reading…and consequently writing” (Montgomery, 1998). Therefore, the development of oral language has an effect on the ways in which emergent readers develop literacy....   [tags: Talking Speaking Oral Writing Education Essays]

Powerful Essays
2910 words (8.3 pages)